2002 Mazda Protege Review

Used Protege for sale
List Price Estimate:$885 - $2,025
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Mazda Protege model years
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Edmunds' Expert Review

  • Tight suspension, powerful brakes, superb steering feel, comfortable seats, attractive exterior styling.
  • Suspension may be too stiff for some buyers, more horsepower couldn't hurt.

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

Vehicle overview

Mazda's Protege is a snappy little sedan that competes quite competently against vehicles like the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla and Ford Focus. Protege is available in three trim levels: DX, LX and ES. The base-model DX comes with standard features like power steering, a 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 16-inch alloy wheels, optional ABS and side airbags, and an available sunroof.

For 2002, all models are powered by a 2.0-liter engine putting out 130 horsepower and135 pound-feet of torque. While sprightly, especially when matched to the standard five-speed manual transmission, Protege isn't going to win any drag races with souped-up Nissan Sentras. What it lacks in straight-line acceleration it more than makes up with responsive steering, capable brakes and a tautly tuned suspension that conspire to make the Protege serious fun to drive. On the road, the Protege is a bit louder than expected, but not much more so than others in the class.

Not only can this car entertain, but also the Protege is one of the best-looking economy sedans on the market, exhibiting more class than a car at this price has a right to. The attractive aluminum wheels (LX and ES) go a long way toward giving the Mazda an upscale appearance, as do the jewel-like headlight reflectors, angular taillights and tasteful chrome accents.

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 and a commodious 12.9-cubic-foot trunk.

The Mazda Protege is a long-time favorite of ours. And although its price can rise to uncomfortable levels (especially with the ES model), the Protege deserves the attention of people looking for a comfortably quick commuter with spicy style and a good reliability record.

2002 Highlights

The enthusiast-oriented MP3 goes on hiatus as Mazda tries to extract more power from the engine. In other news, the base 1.6-liter engine is dropped, making the 130-horse 2.0-liter standard on all trim levels. Each model gets added equipment: larger tires and full wheel covers come on DX; air conditioning, body-colored mirrors and remote keyless entry are standard on LX; new carbon-fiber appearance decor and silver trim debut on the dash and doors of the ES. All models get a sporty three-spoke steering wheel and a 14.5-gallon fuel tank. Foglights and an auto-dimming mirror are available on any Protege for 2002.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 2002 Mazda Protege.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

4.88 out of 5 stars
Passed down to me.
devin994,06/23/2011
LX 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 5M)
For the small amount of time that I've owned this car, it's absolutely fantastic! However, this car has been in our family ever since 2002. It has an automatic transmission and everything in the car is going strong even after 190,000 miles! This car has battled through many trips from New York to Florida and the only problem during all of those trips was that the driver's side window ceased to function. It was promptly fixed and works as good as new! The story on this car is that my parents had bought this vehicle new the year this came out. This car has mostly highway miles. 3 days a week, it travels 140 into the city and back home for the past 9 years. Never has it broken down!
4.88 out of 5 stars
Just Totalled it Today
Barté,01/27/2003
ES 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 5M)
This morning, Jan 26, 03 at 12:09, three friends and I were involved in an automobile accident in my 2002 Mazda Protegé ES. The accident involved a speeding pickup truck. The impact occured MAYBE 20 degrees of an angle away from being a head-on collison. My protegé is totalled. All four of us walked away. All four.
4.5 out of 5 stars
165K trouble free miles
Ray,08/28/2010
ES 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 5M)
I can't say enough good things about this car. I'm still on the original clutch and original water pump. Just change the oil every 3,750 miles and perform the major service every 30K miles. Amazing car.
4.88 out of 5 stars
Adequate performance and reliable
lzp,12/27/2004
LX 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 5M)
It's my first car. Bought it new in August 2002. Have been driving it ever since then and no real problems occured. If I have to be really picky, then here are some minor issues: (1) twice in winter morning, with temperature at around minus 20 celsius (I live in Toronto), the stereo stopped functioning --- the problem disappeared next day. (2) experiences over snowy roads is not as good, especially when making turns, the car could slide sideways. (3) My girl friend complained that air circulation is restrained in certain modes; from reading the reviews here that seems to be a common complain, but it didn't bother me that much. Overall, the car has been fun to drive and reliable.

Safety

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver5 / 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
    Marginal

More about the 2002 Mazda Protege

Used 2002 Mazda Protege Overview

The Used 2002 Mazda Protege is offered in the following submodels: Protege Sedan. Available styles include ES 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 5M), DX 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 5M), and LX 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 5M). Pre-owned Mazda Protege models are available with a 2.0 L-liter gas engine, with output up to 130 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 2002 Mazda Protege comes with front wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 5-speed manual. The Used 2002 Mazda Protege comes with a 3 yr./ 50000 mi. basic warranty, a 3 yr./ 50000 mi. roadside warranty, and a 3 yr./ 50000 mi. powertrain warranty.

What's a good price on a Used 2002 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 2002 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) 2002 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 2002 Mazda Protege.

Can't find a used 2002 Mazda Proteges you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Mazda Protege for sale - 4 great deals out of 12 listings starting at $23,920.

Find a used Mazda for sale - 3 great deals out of 5 listings starting at $24,353.

Find a used certified pre-owned Mazda Protege for sale - 8 great deals out of 11 listings starting at $13,464.

Find a used certified pre-owned Mazda for sale - 10 great deals out of 14 listings starting at $20,195.

Should I lease or buy a 2002 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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