Used 2003 Mazda Protege Consumer Reviews
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This car is a lot of fun to drive. The handling, steering, and road feel are top notch for this car, especially for this class. It puts some newer and more expensive cars to shame. With that said, the car wasn't perfect. The best gas mileage I could get was 28MPG. Despite regular detailing, the car had a decent amount of rust. I went through front wheel bearings like crazy and I had to replace my front struts twice within the 130,000 miles of ownership. Interior is rather nice for the year but the radio is quite weak. A fun car to drive with minor flaws.
I bought my 2003 Protege ES new based on handling and ride - and looks. It's been a great car, extremely reliable and is still fun to drive. The sway bar bushings wore out at 85,000 miles and the tubing to the mass air flow sensor cracked, but a redneck duct tape fix still works. The passenger side electric door lock stopped working at about 50,000 miles. The worst thing on it by far is the rust in the rear fender wells. After 105,000 miles, everything else still works great. At 150,000, I've replaced the right rear strut because it rusted apart. The timing belt et al has been changed and the car continues to run great. Rust wreaks havoc on these cars, though not as bad as some other cars. Still no mechanical problems or break-downs. Both passenger side electric locks no longer work. The main frustration is the rust. It runs perfectly - if it wasn't for rust, it would look and work very much like new. Shortly after 150,000, my son rear-ended another car. I have not had an estimate for repairs yet, but the hood is crumpled, the grille is gone and headlights smashed, but the fenders seem OK. Hopefully it doesn't cost too much because this car still has LOTS of useful life in it. The engine still runs like new. Really a great car. Repaired the hood and front-end plastics myself summer 2019. 16 years later, it's now the teenager's car. Still runs great, which means in over 155k miles it has never had a mechanical problem. There is now a hole in the back seat floorboard from rust and the seat belt mechanism broke - replaced with junk yard piece. The exhaust rusted apart just after the downpipe so it's a little loud but fixing that means a full exhaust replacement. Car is now in Nevada away from salt. Should last forever at this point!
I love my Mazda. I bought it used in 2004 with 25,000 miles on it. It now has 88,000 miles. I have only replaced brake pads, tires and one hose in addition to oil changes. My engine runs flawlessly. I get better than rated mileage. She handles great for a sub-compact. Has road feel instead of the numb feedback of a Toyota. The stick is smooth with shifts. Seats are comfortable. I will keep it until it dies since it has no resell value. I hope to get at least another two years.
This car Just over 5 years old, the gas tank was leaking, cost me $1400 to replace the pump, gas tank and etc. Complained to Mazda company, but they did not care. I will not buy any Mazda again. The Mazda company cut too much cost to build this Protege, not only the rust on the gas tank, but also other areas. I make a big mistake to buy this mazda protege. Gas tank leaking is a safety issue!! I can accept other problems, but not gas tank.
My brother passed this car on to me in 2005 after my car was totaled in an accident & he wanted to get a new BMW. He has regretted that decision ever since. I still have it today in 2010 & he has gone through about 3-4 cars still trying to find the right one. This car is reliable, does really well with gas, has good power acceleration to it, is comfortable and besides normal wear & tear with tires, the only thing that happened was a leak with the radiator & in the air intake hose there was a hole. I replaced both parts & runs like brand freaking new. Unfortunately, I have a small daughter so this car can feel tight sometimes but this is a car you will not regret getting. She's a beaut.