Used 1998 Mazda Protege Review

Edmunds expert review

What's new for 1998

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

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.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.