2003 Mazda Protege
1-10 of 25 reviews
Test drive review

Great car held hostage by design

by from Montana on September 18, 2017

I like this car immensely. It has a large fuel tank and will traverse large areas of Montana without any fuel stops. It is "Zoom-Zoom" as advertised. What they do not tell you: 1. The alternator and ...
I like this car immensely. It has a large fuel tank and will traverse large areas of Montana without any fuel stops. It is "Zoom-Zoom" as advertised. What they do not tell you: 1. The alternator and starter are buried on the firewall side of the engine and are difficult to access. 2. The key and ignition is an overly designed nightmare, and it will require service and repair after you cannot remove the key, or engage the starter. 3. The A/C evaporator coil develops leaks inside the heater box, and that is a very expensive and time consuming repair. 4. Disable the entire airbag system, and buckle up.
Comfort
Exterior Styling
Interior Design
Value for the Money
Performance
Reliability

Purchased a used car

Uses car for Havingfun

Does recommend this car!!

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Test drive review

Value for the price

by from Raleigh, NC on June 20, 2017

This car is a very good value for the price. They run well and are very dependable and reliable. Just enough frills, but not too many, very low cost to maintain and own. Great gas mileage. Car is tidy...
This car is a very good value for the price. They run well and are very dependable and reliable. Just enough frills, but not too many, very low cost to maintain and own. Great gas mileage. Car is tidy and sleek - good for a new driver/college kid, or someone who appreciates low cost ownership.
Comfort
Exterior Styling
Interior Design
Value for the Money
Performance
Reliability

Purchased a used car

Uses car for Commuting

Does recommend this car!!

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Test drive review

I paid $2,000 for this car and it's the best!!

by from on June 16, 2017

This car is the most reliable car I know. I only paid $2,000 for this car and I still run smooth. Regular oil change and maintenance are important but this car doesn't require much. Sadly, I believe t...
This car is the most reliable car I know. I only paid $2,000 for this car and I still run smooth. Regular oil change and maintenance are important but this car doesn't require much. Sadly, I believe the Mazda protege 2003 was the last model they made. Right now, my car has over 160,000 miles and it's still going strong and I know it will last a longer. I will definitely get another Mazda!!
Comfort
Exterior Styling
Interior Design
Value for the Money
Performance
Reliability

Purchased a used car

Uses car for Commuting

Does recommend this car!!

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Test drive review

Best car I have ever owned

by from China Grove, NC on January 5, 2015

I bought my Mazda Protege new in 2003. I have about 96,000 miles on my car. I have had very few problems with my car. Had a belt replaced once and everything else has been your typical maintenance. I ...
I bought my Mazda Protege new in 2003. I have about 96,000 miles on my car. I have had very few problems with my car. Had a belt replaced once and everything else has been your typical maintenance. I love the way it handles, it turns on a dime. On Christmas Eve day I was on my way to work and someone ran a red light and hit the drivers front side. I have no idea at this point if the insurance company is going to have the damage fixed or if they will have it totaled. It will be so sad for me if it it totaled as with such low mileage and just had new tires put on this past summer I will never find anything even close to what I have in this little car. I can say one thing, if I have to start looking for a car I think I might start with the Mazda 3.
Comfort
Exterior Styling
Interior Design
Value for the Money
Performance
Reliability

Purchased a new car

Uses car for Work

Does recommend this car!!

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Test drive review

Great, Cheap Fun!

by from Chicago, IL on May 19, 2014

My 2003 ES currently has around 121,000 on it. I bought it used from a dealer in 2009 with 80,000. It's a great little car! A little slow by today's standards, but the engine likes to rev and has ade...
My 2003 ES currently has around 121,000 on it. I bought it used from a dealer in 2009 with 80,000. It's a great little car! A little slow by today's standards, but the engine likes to rev and has adequate power for the highway and scooting around in the city. You're not going to get into much trouble due to the lack of power, but I suppose that can be considered a good thing. The ES has excellent stock suspension. I've autocross'd mine on stock tires and have put down some respectable times for a bone-stock car (auto too!). The steering in communicative and handling is sharp! Mazda usually always gets this right, which is why it's my favorite car company. They know how to keep cars affordable and fun. I'm still surprised when I attack an off ramp at a pretty high speed and the thing just sticks (again on stock all season tires). I've made plenty of high speed turns without much trouble in regards to understeer, this is where the independent rear suspension and slightly better shock valving shines. The auto sportshift is... nothing special. It's great because you can rev the nuts out of it and hold 2nd gear in autocross, however it shifts really slowly and the ratios are pretty wack (probably for better fuel economy). Still, it can be a little fun from time to time. The body is pretty weak up against Midwestern, salted roads. If you read online forums there are lots of tips out there in regards to preventing rust, FOLLOW THEM (I didn't think I had to since mine was clean, however the rust got pretty bad after just one Winter - huge mistake). My engine and trans are in perfect condition for their age, no leaks, weird noises, or oil burning. The suspension though needs to be looked after. Bushings, the independent rear suspension bits, shock mounts, wheel bearings, etc. wear out a tad faster than say a Honda. Though, their all cheap to replace. Make sure to replace the timing belt sometime around 90,000 miles. I'm not quite sure what the recommended mileage is, but its sometime around then. I played with fire by replacing mine around 115,000, definitely a dumb move because its QUITE expensive if it breaks and destroys the valvetrain in a 16v head. The interior is nice. I'm 6'3 and right at the limit of headroom in an upright driving position, though plenty of leg room. The seats are decent, though my back gets a little sore on roadtrips. All in all a great car. I really wish I had held out for a manual in good condition though, I'd be a lot more apt to tuning the suspension (shocks, springs, rear sway bar) and doing some mild power mods (header, intake, exhaust and protege MP3 ECU). In fact, I've been keeping an eye out for a cleaner, lower-mileage, 5-speed replacement =)
Comfort
Exterior Styling
Interior Design
Value for the Money
Performance
Reliability

Purchased a used car

Uses car for Just getting around

Does recommend this car!!

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Test drive review

Very Reliable

by from Columbus, Ohio on December 8, 2013

I bought my Protege with 13,000 miles back in 2004. I now have 145,000 and have had with no major issues. The only reason I'm looking now is rust has developed on the driver side rear quarter due to t...
I bought my Protege with 13,000 miles back in 2004. I now have 145,000 and have had with no major issues. The only reason I'm looking now is rust has developed on the driver side rear quarter due to the salt up hear in Ohio. Had I washed it more than two or three times since purchasing it that might not even be a problem. I've been test driving a lot of new cars lately and I still prefer the handling of my Mazda.
Comfort
Exterior Styling
Interior Design
Value for the Money
Performance
Reliability

Purchased a used car

Uses car for Commuting

Does recommend this car!!

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Test drive review

Mazda Protege 2003 LX

by from Storrs, CT on February 20, 2013

I had my Mazda Protege LX (2003) for nearly 6 years and it was my first car. I bought it when it had 37k miles on it and sold it at 83k. This is an excellent car for daily use although I used it for r...
I had my Mazda Protege LX (2003) for nearly 6 years and it was my first car. I bought it when it had 37k miles on it and sold it at 83k. This is an excellent car for daily use although I used it for regular long drives on the highway. Mazda's hybrid design is unique. It has the looks of a passenger car but handles like a sports car. 2003 Protege is very responsive. Over the time period I had it, I changed the tires, replaced the serpentine belt, cleaned the rotors, and replaced breaks one time. These are just standard maintenance. The key is to service your car routinely (every 3000-5000 miles) at a reputable place where they do a consistent point check. For example, you will know when to change breaks (don't rely entirely on service people because they usually tend to exaggerate services required. Just decide based on your gut after carefully reviewing their recommendations). 2.0 engine is great for highway driving. I once drove a 2011 Honda Civic on the highway and it was screaming to get up to a modest 57 mph. The Protege, however, can reach 65 mph fairly easily. The car is very reliable, 2003 Protege is probably the best Protege that Mazda ever made and the last of its kind.
Comfort
Exterior Styling
Interior Design
Value for the Money
Performance
Reliability

Purchased a used car

Uses car for Commuting

Does recommend this car!!

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Test drive review

great little car

by from northwest on August 14, 2011

i'm quite possibly going to be trading this car in within the next few months, so i just wanted to say a few words after driving it around for 32,000 miles. overall, the car is great. it's my second m...
i'm quite possibly going to be trading this car in within the next few months, so i just wanted to say a few words after driving it around for 32,000 miles. overall, the car is great. it's my second mazda and i just might get another one in the future. this car was more affordable to something like a civic due to it's name. honda is a good car, but you pay for the name. with this car i felt like i paid pretty much for the car, and didn't have to pay a premium for the name. however, the value of the car dropped because of that. so consider this whenever you buy a car: will you buy it and drive it till the engine chokes, or do you plan on trading it in? i paid $7000 for mine when it had about 61,600 miles on it. and now it's worth about half that after 32,0000 miles of driving. kinda shock, but the car will last an additional 100,000 easy. comfort: front seats are nice and supportive for 6+ hour drives. rear i think could use a little more thigh support, but other than that are good too. leg room can suffer if you are on the taller end of average height. performance: i think i averaged between 32-35 (maybe even 40 at times) on hwy and about 26/28 town mph. the lower number is with studs on. the car picks up speed quickly within the 0-50 mph, after that slows down and even in 5th gear, the car sounds like it could use another gear. road noise is pronouced, but that depends on the road and how good your tires are. a bumpy road and worn tires = plenty noise. car has pretty stiff suppension, and it takes a bit for it to lean in a corner (a corner that some sign recommends you to take it at 45, i go at 65 and can feel the car lean). stearing wheel is responsive and you just have to barely touch it to turn the car. one issue i had just recently is with the cruise control cable. the housing got dry so the cable was stuck and would leave the engine reving high till i went and freed it back. just a minor issue, more of an annoyance than critical. get it checked out though if you can cause i had the car pick up speed indefinately till i manually shifted it down, stopped, and got it fixed. exterior styling: the car looks fine, i don't think it needs a make over, but that's an opinion. it's a commuter car, so that says it. interior styling: good, some plastics have bigger gaps that collect dust. i think of the doors when i'm saying this. value for the money: i think i paid a fair price for the car. i just need a bigger car with a little more room in the back, thus my reason for trading it in eventually. reliablility: i've only had to change the oil and other schedualed maintanence.
Comfort
Exterior Styling
Interior Design
Value for the Money
Performance
Reliability

Purchased a used car

Uses car for Just getting around

Does recommend this car!!

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Test drive review

Great first time car

by from D/fw,texas on June 30, 2011

Purchased the car new in 03.differing for door locks going crazy when first purchased;I've had no issues.Car gets up to speed fast (except when the a/c is on).Great mileage,comfy ride, good price($12,...
Purchased the car new in 03.differing for door locks going crazy when first purchased;I've had no issues.Car gets up to speed fast (except when the a/c is on).Great mileage,comfy ride, good price($12,000 with every manufacturer upgrade)plan on keeping the car until it's dying days.
Comfort
Exterior Styling
Interior Design
Value for the Money
Performance
Reliability

Purchased a new car

Uses car for Commuting

Does recommend this car!!

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Test drive review

Great car!!!!!!!!!

by from Omha, Ne on March 9, 2011

I bought the car in when it was new in 2003. I put 106,000 miles in 8 years on it with only minor maintenance, didn't have to use any of the warrenties. The only problem I had with it until I hit a de...
I bought the car in when it was new in 2003. I put 106,000 miles in 8 years on it with only minor maintenance, didn't have to use any of the warrenties. The only problem I had with it until I hit a deer and totaled it was the digital display on the stereo would go on and off. I really miss this car and if I had a chance to buy this car again I would do it in a heartbeat.
Comfort
Exterior Styling
Interior Design
Value for the Money
Performance
Reliability

Purchased a new car

Uses car for Commuting

Does recommend this car!!

3 out of 5 people found this review helpful. Did you?
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