1997 Mazda Protege Review

Used Protege for sale
List Price Estimate:$422 - $998
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Mazda Protege model years
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Edmunds' Expert Review

Vehicle overview

We've been unfair to the Protege. Last year's review criticized Mazda for requiring consumers to buy the top-of-the-line ES to get the goodies on the options list, and we bitched about the Protege's price, which has pegged this smart sedan near the top of the compact sedan cost list since its debut in 1995.

These days, compacts regularly top $15,000 with a modest load of equipment. Mazda has been pricing cars more aggressively, resulting in better values despite the fact that all Proteges are shipped to the U.S. from Japan. Incentives and subsidized leases make the Protege even more desirable.

Not that the car itself isn't appealing. The Protege boasts the largest interior in its class, and J.D. Power and Associates found that the Protege finished among the top ten cars in its most recent Initial Quality Study. For 1997, exterior styling is spruced up with a new front bumper, grille, fenders and headlamps. Inside, a revised dashboard makes it easier to operate climate and stereo controls. New wheelcovers give the LX a more upmarket appearance.

Protege is available in DX, LX and ES trim. DX is very basic, nothing more than a price leader powered by an adequate 1.5-liter 92-horsepower engine. LX is the most popular Protege, and it comes standard with tilt wheel, cruise control, cassette stereo, power door locks, power windows, and power exterior mirrors. Step up to the ES, and you'll get a mini sport sedan equipped with a 122-horsepower 1.8-liter engine, disc brakes all around, air conditioning, and the ticket to alloy wheels.

Fully-loaded, the ES nearly reaches $19,000 including destination charges. While the ES is our favorite, we recommend the more sensible LX for budget-minded shoppers. Decently equipped with automatic transmission and anti-lock brakes, buyers can get into the LX for less than $17,000 sticker. That's still a good chunk of change for a small sedan, but not unusual in 1997. Take the Protege for a test drive, and find out for yourself if this attractive little Mazda is right for you.

1997 Highlights

Styling revisions inside and out update this roomy compact sedan.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 1997 Mazda Protege.

Trending topics in reviews

Most helpful consumer reviews

3.75 out of 5 stars
Still Going After 15 Years
cjh1948,07/10/2011
LX 4dr Sedan
OK, so this is not a sexy looking car with super electronics. But, it is still going strong after 15 years, gets good mpg, and does not cost a lot to own/maintain. It's not comfortable enough for long hauls, but I only use it for short, around town trips, so it meets my needs. Paint is still holding up, as is the upholstry. Water pump replacement is about the most major repair the car has had.
4 out of 5 stars
Just won't die
mochica,04/19/2014
LX 4dr Sedan
Best reliable car I 've ever bought. After 17 years, car runs strong. I drive 120 miles daily average. Everything works. Mpg @33mpg. Mayor repairs: timing belt/ radiator change / front axles. Minor: Upstream O2 sensor / EGR valve clean up. Car is easy to repair. Done it myself except timing belt. Total $ amount of repairs + tires= $4,300. Walmart brand synthetic oil keeps this car well lubed all these years.
4.88 out of 5 stars
GREAT LITTLE CAR
HAPPY WITH THE ES MO,06/12/2004
ES 4dr Sedan
IF ALL THE PEOPLE THAT BOUGHT LX MODELS AND SAID THEY WERE "UNDERPOWERED" , WHY DIDN'T THEY BUY THE ES MODEL WITH THE BIGGER MOTOR ?? I BOUGHT AN ES MODEL WHICH NOW HAS 210,000 MILES ON IT AS OF JUNE OF 2004, AND IT STILL GETS UP AND GOES JUST LIKE IT DID WHEN IT WAS NEW. I WOULD DEFINITELY BUY ANOTHER ONE. MAYBE MAZDA HEARD THE COMPLAINTS ABOUT POWER, I BELIEVE THE 2004 MODELS HAVE A 2.2 LITER MOTOR IN THEM ....
4.5 out of 5 stars
Still going as new
jim,06/09/2008
LX 4dr Sedan
Bought it with 28,000 miles in Jan 98. Replaced battery and brakes. NO problem at all. It has automatic but never fail. I'll buy another when it quits some year.

Safety

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver3 / 5
    PassengerNot Rated
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    DriverNot Rated
    PassengerNot Rated
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    RolloverNot Rated
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Not Tested
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Not Tested
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test
    Acceptable

More about the 1997 Mazda Protege

Used 1997 Mazda Protege Overview

The Used 1997 Mazda Protege is offered in the following submodels: Protege Sedan. Available styles include LX 4dr Sedan, ES 4dr Sedan, and DX 4dr Sedan. Pre-owned Mazda Protege models are available with a 1.5 L-liter gas engine or a 1.8 L-liter gas engine, with output up to 122 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 1997 Mazda Protege comes with front wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 5-speed manual.

What's a good price on a Used 1997 Mazda Protege?

Shop with Edmunds for perks and special offers on used cars, trucks, and SUVs near Ashburn, VA. Doing so could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Edmunds also provides consumer-driven dealership sales and service reviews to help you make informed decisions about what cars to buy and where to buy them.

Which used 1997 Mazda Proteges are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 1997 Mazda Protege for sale near. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 1997 Mazda Protege.

Can't find a used 1997 Mazda Proteges you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Mazda Protege for sale - 1 great deals out of 18 listings starting at $18,291.

Find a used Mazda for sale - 12 great deals out of 13 listings starting at $14,699.

Find a used certified pre-owned Mazda Protege for sale - 4 great deals out of 21 listings starting at $22,928.

Find a used certified pre-owned Mazda for sale - 5 great deals out of 12 listings starting at $25,310.

Should I lease or buy a 1997 Mazda Protege?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

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