2000 Mazda Protege Review

Pros & Cons

  • Attractive styling, comfortable interior, peppy acceleration.
  • Odd interior details, no other body styles other than sedan offered.
Other years
List Price Estimate
$318 - $735

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Edmunds' Expert Review

When it comes to small, snappy sedans, the Protege is a tough act to beat.

Vehicle overview

Now in its second model year, Mazda's current Protege is a snappy car that competes against vehicles like the Honda Civic, the Toyota Corolla, and the Ford Focus. Sold only as a four-door sedan, the Protege is available in three trim levels: DX, LX and ES. The base-model DX comes with standard features like power steering, tilt steering wheel and a split folding seatback. For options like a driver's height-adjustable seat, power windows and locks, a tachometer, and cruise control, you'll have to step up to either the LX or the ES. The ES also comes with features like standard air conditioning, 15-inch alloy wheels, and optional ABS.

Both the DX and the LX use a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 105 horsepower and 107 foot-pounds of torque. Power from the 1.6-liter is tolerable, but buyers looking for more acceleration should go for the ES. This version gets a 1.8-liter engine that puts out 122 horsepower and 120 foot-pounds of torque.

The Protege is one of the best-looking economy sedans on the market. The creased and folded sheetmetal lends the car a more elegant and sophisticated look than you find on a Ford Escort or Nissan Sentra. The attractive brushed-aluminum wheels go a long way toward achieving this upscale appearance. Jewel-like headlight reflectors, angular taillights and chrome accents give the impression of a more expensive car.

The firm seats are comfortable, and the seat height and cushion angle adjustments (on the LX and ES) are greatly appreciated. The driving position is excellent, with a thick steering wheel rim to grip and a properly placed dead pedal for the left foot. There's also a proper Germanic front-passenger door grip, nicely padded upper door panels where elbows often rest, lots of storage nooks and crannies, a large rear seat, a commodious 12.9 cubic foot trunk, and a great stereo. Too bad Mazda decided to go with standard-issue econobox interior plastics, however. While not an unpleasant place to spend time, the Protege's interior is simply an example of form following function. For safety, there's standard dual front airbags and load-limiting front seatbelts with height adjustment.

On the road, the Protege is a bit louder than expected, but it does provide a good drive. The suspension is equal in both performance and ride quality when compared to the other top cars found in this class. Both engines come with either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission.

The Mazda Protege is a long time favorite of ours. And although the new Ford Focus will be getting a lot of hype this year, the Protege deserves the attention of commuters looking for a comfortably quick commuter with spicy style and a good reliability record.

2000 Highlights

Front-seat side airbags and an improved ABS system are new to the LX premium and ES premium packages. The LX and ES also get illuminated power window switches. Chrome plating has been added to the inner door handles, and a Mazda symbol now appears on the steering wheel, the parking brake button and the automatic transmission shift-lever button. The Twilight Blue Mica exterior color has been discontinued and replaced with Midnight Blue Mica.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2000 Mazda Protege.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

14 years of happy ownership
DX 4dr Sedan
We have owned our 2000 DX with auto transmission for 14 years and 227,800 miles. Other than a new ECM about 8 years ago we have only completed oil changes every 3k miles and the occasional brake job (all completed by me). At 225,000 I decided it was time to replace the ORIGINAL timing belt (which, believe it or not, didn't look too bad). At that time I also replaced the following: Valve cover seal Spark plugs Cam seals Crank seal Water pump Timing pulleys and tension spring Struts Control arms with lower ball joints Replace 4 Qts tranny fluid Outer tierod ends New driver side axle I completed all the work myself and it was fairly easy to complete..... All for about $800 in parts. If you are a do it yourself type of person then this car is for you. Very easy to work on. I drive this car 60 miles per day and am confident it will make it to 300,000 miles.
The most dependable car I have ever owned
Marc M.,07/14/2016
LX 4dr Sedan
My large almost new Ford was totaled by a drunk driver. The driver's insurance company would only rent me a car for two weeks but they did give me a good payment for my car. I wanted to take my time selecting and buying a new car so I decided to purchase a cheap car and then sell it after I got the new car. I bought my 2000 Mazda Protege for $2,500 in 2012. At the time the car had 151,000 miles. As I drove the car I began to really like it. It handled great, it was dependable, it looked good, and the gas mileage was outrageous ( 27 city 40 hwy). I have the automatic. Eventually I forgot about another car because I liked the protege so much. I looked at my gasoline bills and saw that in the past 4 years, I have saved $8,000+ in gasoline costs as compared to the Ford. Same basic driving routine. Mostly city some highway. On one trip, I was able to drive the back road highways at 55 MPH (no hills) and I got 42 MPG. I love the way the car feels inside. I have owned several Porsches and this car feels like a Porsche to me. It is super easy to park. When I see a space I just pull in. No parallel parking required. It looks really small, but if you check out the actual dimensions it is about the same size as most cars these days. The visibility is incredible. It is like you can see everywhere which is why the car looks small. The top part of the car is high (including the glass) and the body is short (like a Ferrrari). The car now has 181,000 miles on it an in the 4 years since I have owned it I have had no repairs at all. The car has never let me down. I have another car and a newer pickup truck but I always find myself driving the Protege because it is so much fun. All I have done is replace brake pads and shoes, tires, oil, belts, and hoses. No smoke from the exhaust, uses no oil, lots of power, idles smooth, nice transmission shifts, drives like a new car. If the car made it to 500,000 miles I would not be surprised. The guy I bought it from later told me he was sorry he sold it. I am only the third owner. My future plans are to have the car repainted (although the paint still looks good but not perfect) in a two tone factory color option and put some good wide alloy wide wheels and tires on it. I would also like a high performance exhaust system. The upholstery is like new, no tears or anything. I like this car more than any car I have ever owned. Every time I get into the car all I think is " this car has saved me $6,500 for the pleasure of owning and driving it".
2000 Mazda Protege LX automatic
Car is going strong at 95,000 miles. Only repairs done to date are new door lock actuators, the radio/CD player, and recently replaced EGR valve. Gas mileage is great for an automatic, between 30 and 35 MPG. I even averaged 40 MPG once. My only complaints are the small engine and placement of rearview mirror which obstructs vision.
We have had this car since it was new 11 years ago - it replaced another just like it that died on us, and it now has 224,500 miles on it. Though we are looking for a new vehicle, we plan to keep this one as a second vehicle for use locally. I was amazed that you give mpg as 25 - 27; we've never gotten less than 32, usually more, up to 38! Perhaps part of that is my exclusive use of Mobil 1 oil; with the vagaries of gas pump shut-offs, regardless, I feel 34-35 mpg is what we have (and continue to get) for mileage. Driving it's been a pleasure, though it's showing signs of age - noisiness, mostly.

Features & Specs

See all Used 2000 Mazda Protege features & specs


NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver4 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver3 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • 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 2000 Mazda Protege

Used 2000 Mazda Protege Overview

The Used 2000 Mazda Protege is offered in the following submodels: Protege Sedan. Available styles include DX 4dr Sedan, ES 4dr Sedan, and LX 4dr Sedan.

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Can't find a used 2000 Mazda Proteges you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Mazda Protege for sale - 12 great deals out of 14 listings starting at $17,492.

Find a used Mazda for sale - 9 great deals out of 21 listings starting at $9,593.

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Should I lease or buy a 2000 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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