Full 2002 Mazda Protege5 Review
What's New for 2002
The Protege is now available as a slick little sport wagon, adding another body style to the Protege lineup.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The Protege5 is a four-door wagon. Its features include power windows and locks, remote keyless entry, cruise control, tilt steering and an AM/FM/CD stereo with four speakers. Goodies like a power sunroof, leather upholstery, 16-inch wheels, automatic transmission, antilock brakes with side airbags and an in-dash six-CD changer comprise the options list.
Powertrains and Performance
This Mazda is motivated by a 2.0-liter engine putting out 130 horsepower and135 pound-feet of torque. While sprightly, especially when matched to the standard five-speed manual transmission, Protege isn't going to win any drag races with souped-up Nissan Sentras. If you so desire, there is a four-speed automatic available.
Four-wheel disc brakes are standard; to get ABS with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution, you've gotta buy the package that bundles them with side airbags. Each of the three rear seating positions gets a three-point automatic locking retractor (ALR) seatbelt, and an ISO-FIX child-seat latching and tethering system further contributes to passenger safety. As of yet, no Protege5 crash tests have been performed, but the sedan version has fared decently in the NHTSA's frontal impact tests, earning five stars (out of five) for the driver and four stars for the front passenger.
Interior Design and Special Features
Inside, the Protege5 is dressed up with fake carbon-fiber accents and satin silver trim pieces. Black-on-white gauges with amber nighttime backlighting exhibit a slightly italicized font to enhance the impression that this is a special Protege. The driver seat is firmly padded with good bolstering on the sides, and it includes manual bottom-cushion height and tilt adjustments to help find an optimal driving position. Folding the rear seat flat opens up 24.4 cubic feet of cargo.
On the road, the Protege5 is a bit louder than expected, but it does provide an excellent drive. Credit goes to the first-rate steering system that provides gobs of feedback, perfect weighting and no on-center dead spot. Enhanced by a taut and well-damped suspension, the Protege5 is the "driver's car" of economy wagons.