2003 Mazda Protege Review

Pros & Cons

  • Tight suspension, powerful brakes, superb steering feel, comfortable seats, attractive exterior styling.
  • Suspension may be too stiff for some buyers, mediocre horsepower output given the handling capabilities of the car.
Other years
List Price

Used Protege for Sale
Select your model:
See all for sale

cash graphic with confetti

Get More For Your Trade-In

2003 Mazda Protege appraisal values can range from $647 - $2,251.
Find out what your car is really worth in minutes.
See your car's value

Edmunds' Expert Review

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

2003 Highlights

Minor changes limited to feature content are in store for Mazda's economy sedan. The DX trim gets a CD player as standard equipment, while air conditioning is offered as a stand-alone option. The LX trim receives 15-inch wheels as standard. Last year's premium packages for the LX and ES have been discontinued, but you can still get the sunroof, side airbags and antilock brakes as options.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 2003 Mazda Protege.

Trending topics in reviews

Most helpful consumer reviews

Wow, this car is fun to drive!
LX 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 5M)
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.
One-owner Review
ES 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 5M)
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!
Best Car I have owned
DX 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 5M)
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.
gas tank leaking & rust
fuel tamk leaking,08/24/2009
LX 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 5M)
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.


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
    Rollover4 / 5
    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 2003 Mazda Protege

Used 2003 Mazda Protege Overview

The Used 2003 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 2003 Mazda Protege comes with front wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 5-speed manual. The Used 2003 Mazda Protege comes with a 4 yr./ 50000 mi. basic warranty, a 4 yr./ 50000 mi. roadside warranty, and a 4 yr./ 50000 mi. powertrain warranty.

What's a good price on a Used 2003 Mazda Protege?

Price comparisons for Used 2003 Mazda Protege trim styles:

  • The Used 2003 Mazda Protege DX is priced between $4,995 and$4,995 with odometer readings between 80000 and80000 miles.

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 2003 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) 2003 Mazda Protege for sale near. There are currently 1 used and CPO 2003 Proteges listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $4,995 and mileage as low as 80000 miles. 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 2003 Mazda Protege.

Can't find a used 2003 Mazda Proteges you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Mazda Protege for sale - 3 great deals out of 9 listings starting at $24,812.

Find a used Mazda for sale - 8 great deals out of 20 listings starting at $8,578.

Find a used certified pre-owned Mazda Protege for sale - 1 great deals out of 12 listings starting at $18,739.

Find a used certified pre-owned Mazda for sale - 11 great deals out of 14 listings starting at $12,914.

Should I lease or buy a 2003 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.

Check out Mazda lease specials
Check out Mazda Protege lease specials