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2002 Mazda Protege

$12 — $5,780 USED
Sedan
5 Seats
28 MPG
(Combined)
Key specs of the base trim
 — 
Compare 3 trims

Our Take

from the Cars.com expert editorial team

Vehicle Overview
The Proteg� sedan received a front-end face-lift for 2001. Now, Mazda is helping to revive the small hatchback body style with its new Proteg�5 sport wagon, launched as an early 2002 model.

During the 2001 model year, Mazda introduced another variant of the Proteg�, dubbed MP3 to denote its Kenwood audio system. The MP3 also is fitted with a high-output 140-horsepower engine and a number of performance-oriented components from racing suppliers. Only 1,500 units were built initially, and they were sold out before they reached the United States, but Mazda is considering bringing back the MP3 later in the 2002 model year.

Except for the MP3, all models now use a 130-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine designed by Mazda. The 1.6-liter engine, previously standard on the DX sedan, has been dropped. Each 2002 vehicle benefits from a reinforced body/chassis structure, and a new modular audio system with a standard CD player is installed in all sedans.

A redesign isn’t likely until 2004, but when it does occur, the Ford Focus platform may possibly be used. Ford owns a controlling interest in Mazda. Meanwhile, Mazda continues to promote itself as a sporty car company, using its “zoom-zoom” advertising theme.

Exterior
Slightly longer than the Honda Civic, the Proteg� has a 102.8-inch wheelbase and measures 175.3 inches long overall. What Mazda describes as “European-inspired styling” emerged from a collaboration among designers in Europe, Japan and C...
Vehicle Overview
The Proteg� sedan received a front-end face-lift for 2001. Now, Mazda is helping to revive the small hatchback body style with its new Proteg�5 sport wagon, launched as an early 2002 model.

During the 2001 model year, Mazda introduced another variant of the Proteg�, dubbed MP3 to denote its Kenwood audio system. The MP3 also is fitted with a high-output 140-horsepower engine and a number of performance-oriented components from racing suppliers. Only 1,500 units were built initially, and they were sold out before they reached the United States, but Mazda is considering bringing back the MP3 later in the 2002 model year.

Except for the MP3, all models now use a 130-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine designed by Mazda. The 1.6-liter engine, previously standard on the DX sedan, has been dropped. Each 2002 vehicle benefits from a reinforced body/chassis structure, and a new modular audio system with a standard CD player is installed in all sedans.

A redesign isn’t likely until 2004, but when it does occur, the Ford Focus platform may possibly be used. Ford owns a controlling interest in Mazda. Meanwhile, Mazda continues to promote itself as a sporty car company, using its “zoom-zoom” advertising theme.

Exterior
Slightly longer than the Honda Civic, the Proteg� has a 102.8-inch wheelbase and measures 175.3 inches long overall. What Mazda describes as “European-inspired styling” emerged from a collaboration among designers in Europe, Japan and California. A black-chrome grille, fog lights and a rear spoiler are part of the DX, LX and ES sedans. Alloy wheels hold 16-inch tires, but 15-inch wheels are optional on the DX model. New body-colored mirrors go on the LX and ES, and a power moonroof is available.

The MP3 sedan features a large front air dam with integrated driving lights, side sill extensions, a large rear spoiler and low-profile tires on special Racing Hart 17-inch wheels. MP3 models are finished in Laser Blue or Vivid Yellow.

Interior
This is one of the roomier small cars on the market. As a result of what Mazda calls OptiSpace design, the Proteg� can actually accommodate the five passengers that it claims to hold. Interior volume amounts to 92.6 cubic feet, and it has adequate rear legroom and headroom for adult passengers. A split, folding rear seat supplements the 13.2-cubic-foot trunk space.

Air conditioning is optional on the DX sedan and standard on other models. White-faced instruments and a new modular audio system with a CD player are standard, and a new center console includes covered storage. The MP3 sedan includes a Nardi three-spoke steering wheel and MazdaSpeed lightweight pedals, and the Proteg� has a shorter gearshift lever.

Under the Hood
Mazda has dropped the 1.6-liter engine, so all DX, LX and ES models now carry a 2.0-liter four-cylinder that produces 130 hp. The engine in the MP3 sedan develops 140 hp, using a low-back pressure Racing Beat exhaust system and working with a manual shift. In other models, either a five-speed-manual or four-speed-automatic transmission can be installed.

Safety
Side-impact airbags, antilock brakes and electronic brake-force distribution are available in an option group. All models now have all-disc brakes.

Driving Impressions
The Proteg� is among the more spacious and well-equipped compact sedans. It also is highly competent on the road and fun to drive, befitting the claims for sportiness made by Mazda. Priced in the same league as more ordinary sedans, Mazda’s compact stands a strong cut above in the handling department. Performance also is appealing, especially when equipped with the manual shift and larger engine.

As expected, acceleration in the MP3 is stronger than that of the regular Proteg�, though the difference is not dramatic. It’s a little more taxing to drive, due to the need for heavier pressure on the clutch pedal, and the exhaust tone adds to the MP3’s sportiness. Where the MP3 really shines is in its handling talents. In quick, tight turns, the MP3 clings tenaciously to the pavement. Body lean is minimal, and there’s only moderate penalty to be paid in ride comfort.

 
Reported by Jim Flammang  for cars.com
From the cars.com 2002 Buying Guide

Consumer Reviews

What drivers are saying

4.5
24 reviews — Read All reviews
Exterior Styling
(4.2)
Performance
(4.3)
Interior Design
(4.1)
Comfort
(4.1)
Reliability
(4.6)
Value For The Money
(4.7)

Read reviews that mention:

(5.0)

One of the most fun to drive and most reliable car

by protegeowner on November 9, 2017

I owned and ES from new for 15 years and loved this car. Just sold it 11/17 with only 58k miles on it. My wife and I were sad to see it go. Need higher seating was the only reason to part with it. Read full review

(4.0)

If Well Maintained, Very Reliable

by NASADad from Friendswood, TX on September 8, 2017

It's a good vehicle, and will last a long time if well maintained. can go south quickly if not taken care of. Read full review

Safety

Recalls and crash tests

Recalls

The 2002 Mazda Protege currently has 4 recalls


Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

The 2002 Mazda Protege has not been tested.

Latest 2002 Protege Stories

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The Protege received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker