1998 Mazda Protege Review

Pros & Cons

  • Zingy powertrain, despite lackluster performance data. Large inside. Fun to drive.
  • Average crash scores. No de-powered airbags.
List Price Estimate
$369 - $870

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Edmunds' Expert Review

Vehicle overview

We've been unfair to the Protigi in the past. A couple of years ago we criticized Mazda for requiring consumers to buy the top-of-the-line ES to get the goodies on the options list, and we complained about the Protege's price, which had 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 a recent Initial Quality Study. For 1997, exterior styling was spruced up with a new front bumper, grille, fenders and headlamps. Inside, a revised dashboard made it easier to operate climate and stereo controls. New wheelcovers gave the LX a more upmarket appearance. This year, a CD player has been added to the standard equipment list of the LX and ES. It comes on the DX too, but only when ordered with a Convenience Package.

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 cruise control, power windows, and a CD player. 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 fun times behind the wheel.

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 antilock brakes, buyers can get into the LX for less than $16,000 sticker. That's still a good chunk of change for a small sedan, but not unusual in 1998. Take the Protege for a test drive, and find out if this attractive little Mazda is right for you.

1998 Highlights

A CD player is standard on ES and LX. It also comes on DX models equipped with an option package.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 1998 Mazda Protege.

Trending topics in reviews

Most helpful consumer reviews

Timex Tin Can
ES 4dr Sedan
The car has been very reliable as others have mentioned, however this is transportation at it's most basic level. This car is a noisy tin can on wheels. Radio must be cranked in order to overcome excessive road noise. Car lacks power even with the larger 1.8L engine and is really not that great on gas. I rarely take it on highways and my wife refuses to drive it at all because of the "Tin Can" feel. With that said, it is a reliable beater for local commutes but would not take this car on long trips.
Fun car
LX 4dr Sedan
Bought the car at 71,000 miles. It's been trouble free with only preventive maintenance needed. The 1.5 is underpowered, but the 5-speed makes it fun to drive. This car also gets great mileage (30 mpg city/highway mix, 37 mpg all highway). Roomy car (I am 6'5"). Very very practical car.
The engine will last forever
DX 4dr Sedan
I consider my 11 year old Protege to be young by Mazda standards with only 149,000 miles on it. My family owned a '91 Protege and drove it to 277,000 miles over the course of 8 years. The engine runs great and the car always starts in all weather. Manual transmission handles great in snow and ice, car is a bit unstable driving through deep mud and water. I get 37 MPG highway. Car is so little that it's not very comfortable on the highway. You feel every bump in the road and every wind gust. The body has lots of rust on it but the car lives in Minnesota. The suspension is giving out, likely due to rust. I love my little car but wish the suspension wasn't dead.
Time to move on
LX 4dr Sedan


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

More about the 1998 Mazda Protege

Used 1998 Mazda Protege Overview

The Used 1998 Mazda Protege is offered in the following submodels: Protege Sedan. Available styles include LX 4dr Sedan, DX 4dr Sedan, and ES 4dr Sedan.

What's a good price on a Used 1998 Mazda Protege?

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Which used 1998 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) 1998 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 1998 Mazda Protege.

Can't find a used 1998 Mazda Proteges you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Mazda Protege for sale - 10 great deals out of 13 listings starting at $23,813.

Find a used Mazda for sale - 12 great deals out of 14 listings starting at $7,689.

Find a used certified pre-owned Mazda Protege for sale - 4 great deals out of 12 listings starting at $19,868.

Find a used certified pre-owned Mazda for sale - 8 great deals out of 21 listings starting at $9,811.

Should I lease or buy a 1998 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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