Used 1999 Mazda Protege Review

Edmunds expert review

What's new for 1999

The Protege gets an extensive makeover for '99 that includes new exterior and interior styling, a more powerful engine lineup, additional luxury options and five new colors.

Vehicle overview

Looking to take a share of the Honda Civic's sales numbers, Mazda's new-for-'99 Protege offers substantial improvements this year. OK, so maybe the top-line ES brake system has gone from a four-wheel disc setup to a front disc/rear drum configuration, but since the new model is also lighter than previous Proteges, Mazda assures us that stopping distances haven't suffered.

Topping the list of improvements is a new base engine that grows from 1.5 to 1.6 liters. As you might expect, power is also up with the new base engine making 105 horsepower compared to only 92 for the old 1.5-liter mill. This engine is standard on the DX and LX models while the top-line ES features a new, 1.8-liter inline four capable of 122 horsepower and 120 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed manual transmission is standard in the Protege but an all-new, four-speed automatic can be ordered with either engine.

Exterior changes range from a new "626-like" grille to body-colored door handles and side moldings (on LX and ES models) to 15-inch alloy wheels (ES only). Inside there's a new driver's side vanity mirror, larger cloth door inserts, and three-point safety belts for the rear seat. LX and ES models get a larger center console but lose the previous front-seat side storage trays. All three models lose the locking glovebox door that was standard last year.

New options include an LX Premium Package that comes with ABS, moonroof, and remote keyless illuminated entry. The keyless entry is standard this year on ES models.We admire Mazda for going after Civic-like quality and performance with the new Protege. The Honda is a tough act to follow but this new Mazda has plenty to offer the buyer looking to separate from the Civic masses.

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.