Model Details

2003 Mazda Protege5 Consumer Reviews

4.8
Average based on 29 reviews
Comfort
Performance
Exterior Styling
Interior Design
Value for the Money
Reliability
1-10 of 29 reviews

Most reliable car I've ever owned

by from Washington, DC on March 6, 2011

I've owned my 2003 P5 for about 5 years now, and I have to say it's by far the most reliable car I've ever owned. Other than routine maintenance, it has never (and I mean NEVER) broken down, left me s...
I've owned my 2003 P5 for about 5 years now, and I have to say it's by far the most reliable car I've ever owned. Other than routine maintenance, it has never (and I mean NEVER) broken down, left me stranded, or otherwise disappointed. The Protege 5 has a lot going for it. It's amazingly versatile when you fold down the rear seatbacks. Actually, the rear seats can be removed entirely with no tools and in about 3 minutes. I've been amazed at how much stuff I've been able to load into this car. With the roof rack, I've managed to get home a stunning array of flat-packed furniture from Ikea. Mine is a 5-speed manual, and I routinely get about 28-29 MPG of mixed city/highway driving. On roadtrips, I've topped out at 32 MPG. The engine is surprisingly gutsy for a 2.0 liter. It's no torque-monster, but the car is pretty light, so 148 HP goes a long way. I was really surprised the first time I poped open the hood and saw that it comes stock with a front strut tower brace. Nice little gift from Mazda, and much appreciated by driving enthusiasts. I have to say, this car handles incredibly well for a small front-driver. The steering is precise and weighted well, and the car stays flat as a pancake no matter how hard you throw it into a corner. The stock sound system is pretty impressive too, with its 6 speakers and separate subwoofer. Of course, no car is perfect, and there are definitely a couple of blemishes on what is otherwise an amazing little car. First and foremost, this car is really loud. I have to assume that to save weight and cost, Mazda dropped a significant amount of the sound-deadening material that otherwise goes into its other models. At highway speeds, the road and engine noise are pretty spectacularly loud. Secondly, the manual transmission is a little sloppy. The first-to-second shift, in particular, is a loooong throw. Forget any scorching 0-60 runs, because you'll lose half a second or so just making that shift. I've been driving manual transmission cars exclusively for 20 years, and this car has vexed me because I just can't figure out the magic formula to driving it smoothly. Maybe I've just been spoiled by the slick transmissions in my Hondas/Acuras. That's really it when it comes to negatives. Overall, I've been very happy with my decision to buy this car. It had 29k miles on it when I bought it used in 2006, and it's now at 118k. In that time period, I've only had to change wear & tear items like tires, brakes, spark plugs, air filters, and a timing belt (proactively, not because it broke). The one and only time in 5 years that the check engine light came on was due to a small crack in an air intake pipe, which was a $50 fix. In summary, if you're looking for a great value in a small, versatile, reliable package, look no further.
Comfort
Performance
Exterior Styling
Interior Design
Value for the Money
Reliability

Purchased a used car

Uses car for Commuting

Does recommend this car

13 out of 13 people found this review helpful. Did you?

Total package

by from Lake Stevens, Wa on September 10, 2010

Overall I love this car and will drive it until it dies. Performance wise it lives up to its look and handles great although the engine could be a bit faster. Its a lot of fun to drive especially on c...
Overall I love this car and will drive it until it dies. Performance wise it lives up to its look and handles great although the engine could be a bit faster. Its a lot of fun to drive especially on curvey mountain roads. Everyday i grow fonder and fonder of the look of this car even though its a wagon. The interior is just cool with the carbon styling around the radio. This car is a total package its both reasonable and flat out insanely fun to drive. I love my protoge 5
Comfort
Performance
Exterior Styling
Interior Design
Value for the Money
Reliability

Purchased a used car

Uses car for Just getting around

Does recommend this car

4 out of 4 people found this review helpful. Did you?

great sporty car

by from Houston, TX on November 20, 2009

fun, reliable car, good gas milage. Great car car for family. We had tow car seats in the back and still had extra room. The hack-back is also very useful. The back seats can fold down for extra space...
fun, reliable car, good gas milage. Great car car for family. We had tow car seats in the back and still had extra room. The hack-back is also very useful. The back seats can fold down for extra space for moving.
Comfort
Performance
Handling
Exterior Styling
Interior Design
Features
Value for the Money
Reliability

Purchased a used car

Uses car for Transporting family

Does recommend this car

4 out of 4 people found this review helpful. Did you?

Great little wagon

by from Ohio on July 31, 2006

I have owned it since new, and it has caused no problems (other than 3 tire replacements thanks to the deplorable conditions of New England roads). It handles almost as well as my new MX-5 but hauls ...
I have owned it since new, and it has caused no problems (other than 3 tire replacements thanks to the deplorable conditions of New England roads). It handles almost as well as my new MX-5 but hauls a lot more. The automatic does hunt for the right gear sometimes in the mountains on cruise control, but using the manual shifting road cures that. Mine is one of the more fully optioned ones with leather, ABS, 6 CD changer, etc., and I really can't think of anything it lacks. If you want a reasonably priced used car that is fun to drive but practical look at the Protege5.
Comfort
Performance
Handling
Exterior Styling
Interior Design
Features
Value for the Money
Reliability

Purchased a used car

Does recommend this car

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

Fun driving

by from Wilmette,Illinois on December 7, 2010

Great vehicle for someone who carries dogs and heavy products from Home Depot - lots of room in the back . Great rack on top . Easy to handle and park -fun to drive . Good gas mileage . Classic design...
Great vehicle for someone who carries dogs and heavy products from Home Depot - lots of room in the back . Great rack on top . Easy to handle and park -fun to drive . Good gas mileage . Classic design style . Only complaint was the intial battery didn't last very long .
Comfort
Performance
Exterior Styling
Interior Design
Value for the Money
Reliability

Purchased a used car

Uses car for Just getting around

Does recommend this car

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

"Most Reliable Car I've Owned"

by from Alpharetta, GA on October 2, 2006

The car had great handling. No mechanical problems, and very nice looking. What else could you ask for? GREAT BUY
The car had great handling. No mechanical problems, and very nice looking. What else could you ask for? GREAT BUY
Comfort
Performance
Handling
Exterior Styling
Interior Design
Features
Value for the Money
Reliability

Purchased a used car

Does recommend this car

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

Fun to drive and great convienance

by from Millis, ma on August 4, 2006

Ive had this vehicle for a while I love it, its been great on preformance and mileage, fun to drive, The use of the hatchback is great Ive managed to pick up tvs, dressers help people move and its ver...
Ive had this vehicle for a while I love it, its been great on preformance and mileage, fun to drive, The use of the hatchback is great Ive managed to pick up tvs, dressers help people move and its very versatile
Comfort
Performance
Handling
Exterior Styling
Interior Design
Features
Value for the Money
Reliability

Purchased a used car

Does recommend this car

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

best bang for the buck hands down

by from B'ham, AL on September 5, 2006

Mazda makes the most fun cars to drive. End of story. If you're tired of commuting in that stupid toyota or honda you MUST go test drive a mazda. If you're not a "car person" don't bother. Mazda only ...
Mazda makes the most fun cars to drive. End of story. If you're tired of commuting in that stupid toyota or honda you MUST go test drive a mazda. If you're not a "car person" don't bother. Mazda only makes cars for enthusiasts. This is my 5th new mazda in 5 years. I love them.
Comfort
Performance
Handling
Exterior Styling
Interior Design
Features
Value for the Money
Reliability

Purchased a used car

Does recommend this car

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

3-year owner

by from Chattanooga, TN on June 26, 2006

I opted for the Mazda due to price and looks. Overall, a super little car. The engine is a bit weak, but handles very well in cornering, and gets great mileage. The low-profile tires are a bit iffy i...
I opted for the Mazda due to price and looks. Overall, a super little car. The engine is a bit weak, but handles very well in cornering, and gets great mileage. The low-profile tires are a bit iffy in wet weather, and I'd recommend slowing waaaay down in the rain given its tendency to hydroplane a bit. Other than this shortcoming, it's a lot of car for a little money. I love mine.
Comfort
Performance
Handling
Exterior Styling
Interior Design
Features
Value for the Money
Reliability

Purchased a used car

Does recommend this car

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

My 4th and BEST car

by from berkeley, ca on June 25, 2007

Was tired of the honda civics and accord I had in the past as reliable and wonderful as they were. Found this at the end of the model year 2003 and got a GREAT deal. $15000 fully loaded with leather, ...
Was tired of the honda civics and accord I had in the past as reliable and wonderful as they were. Found this at the end of the model year 2003 and got a GREAT deal. $15000 fully loaded with leather, 6disc CD changer, sun roof, rims. More than I;d had on any other car. What a pleasure to drive, even 3 years later. Road trips, camping, moving, lugging furniture, naps, tailgating. No complaints. Amazing car. What a shame they don't make them any more.
Comfort
Performance
Handling
Exterior Styling
Interior Design
Features
Value for the Money
Reliability

Purchased a used car

Does recommend this car

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