The 2002 Mazda Protege is a four-door sedan that seats five passengers. It is available in three trim levels: the base DX, midrange LX, and the luxury ES. It has a standard five-speed manual transmission, and the ES can get an optional four-speed automatic. It is powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 130 horsepower. Mazda created a limited edition MP3 trim that is equipped with an upgraded Kenwood audio system, performance-oriented wheels and tires, and a sports-tuned chassis; however, this edition quickly sold out in early 2002.
Body Styles: sedan
Engines: 2.0-liter four-cylinder
Transmissions: five-speed manual, four-speed automatic
Models: Mazda Protege LX, Mazda Protege ES
The 2002 Mazda Protege receives a complete redesign in 2001 that included new front fenders, hood, and front fascia. It dropped the 1.6-liter engine, reinforced the chassis, and added a new modular stereo system with a standard CD player in all models. It got new body-colored mirrors.
The standard exterior features for the 2002 Mazda Protege DX include 15-inch steel wheels, black chrome grille, fog lights, rear spoiler, body-colored bumpers, halogen headlights, rear defogger, retractable antenna, and tinted windows. The LX trim adds remote keyless entry, dual power remote mirrors, power sliding/tilting sunroof, power windows, and body-colored side moldings. The ES replaces the 16-inch steel wheels with alloy wheels.
The 2002 Mazda Protege is understated and plain. The bold, wraparound taillights improve safety and make the car more visible to drivers behind you. The MP3 sedan features sporty touches such as 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. Available exterior colors for the MP3 models are Laser Blue or Vivid Yellow.
Standard interior features for the 2002 Mazda Protege include manual air-conditioning, cruise control, speed-sensitive steering, four-way driver and passenger bucket seats, 60/40-split rear bench seat, tilt steering wheel, cloth upholstery, and an in-dash six-disc CD changer AM/FM/CD stereo system with four speakers. The LX trim adds premium cloth, eight-way power driver and passenger bucket seats, and a four-speaker single CD in-dash CD player. The ES trim has a six-speaker in-dash single CD player. External temperature display and a compass are optional.
The interior of the 2002 Mazda Protege has lots of head and legroom. The seats are comfortable and supportive. The rear seats provide plenty of legroom but not much head room. The white-faced gauges and center stack are smartly designed. The center console offers plenty of covered storage. The DX and LX trims have two-toned interior trim. The controls are easy to operate and the radio controls are mounted high on the dashboard for easy reach and operation. The MP3 loses some trunk space because the audio amplifier is quite large.
Performance & Handling
The 2002 Mazda Protege is powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 130 horsepower and 135 lb-ft of torque. It is mated with a five-speed manual transmission, but consumers can get the optional four-speed automatic transmission. It has rack and pinion steering, front drive, and front and rear coil springs. With the manual transmission, it displays excellent handling and good acceleration; however, the automatic transmission was lethargic in accelerating. With eight more horsepower than the 2001 model, the increased mid-range torque makes it more responsive and easier to drive in town. The brakes provided good stopping power. The cabin is well-insulated, effectively dampening wind, road, and engine noise. The stiffer chassis, responsive rack and pinion steering, and four-wheel independent suspension created a good ride with stable handling.
The standard safety features for the 2002 Mazda Protege include front disc/rear drum brakes, child seat anchors, anti-roll bar, driver and front passenger airbags, rear door child safety locks, electronic Brake force distribution, and emergency trunk release. The LX and ES trims get four-wheel anti-lock braking system (ABS) and a panic alarm. An anti-theft alarm system is optional. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gave five stars for driver frontal-impact protection and four stars for passenger frontal-impact protection. The NHTSA also gave three stars for front side-impact protection.
EPA Fuel Economy
Mazda Protege: 25/30 mpg city/highway
- Decent ride
- Good passenger and cargo room
- Good interior material quality
- Good acceleration handling with manual transmission
- Good brakes
You Won't Like
- Automatic transmission is sluggish
- Not much head room in the rear seating area
A good example of the advancements that are being made in the compact sedan class toward refinement, value, and performance.
If You Like This Vehicle
- Honda Civic
- Ford Focus
- Volkswagen Jetta
- Nissan Sentra
- Hyundai Accent