Getting firsthand information from an actual car owner is one sure way to get an idea of car performance once it leaves the lot. Autobytel features real consumer reviews that give the unbiased experience of a car.
Pros: The sunroof/side impact/abs package is awesome.
Cons: Lack of trunk button on remote. Also, the security system is really sensitive
Advice: Make sure you can handle the legroom in the backSo far I love this car. I have the LX model, the ES was a bit too expensive for what I could get right now. I might have to upload another review, but so far, and that's only a few hundred miles, I really like it. The driver seat adjusts will enough that I can find a good position for my back, as opposed to my Saturn SL2. The only drawback I find so far is no remote trunk button and the cup holders are for cups. No bottled water here. Tight turn and it's out.
Pros: high reving engine
Advice: buy it from a good dealerI bought a 2001 ES 2.0. I have had the car for over a year now and my only compliant is the transmission. I opted for the 5 speed, great speed and handling, but when the temperature gets close to freezing it acts as though I am not using the clutch. I have taken it to the dealer three times and they fixed it once. Three months later same problem. Not to worry I am trading this car in for a jeep liberty. Great car, poor transmission.
Pros: Acceleration, handling, comfort.
Cons: No automatic door lock, no remote trunk entry on keyless entry pad.
Advice: Buy ES model.Spend the extra money on the ES model. Not only are the looks improved by the carbon fiber dash, white face guages, spoiler, and fog lights, but you'll also get the 16 inch, 5 lug wheels, low profile tires, and 4 wheel disc brakes. The two other models come with 15 inch, 4 lug wheels, and rear drum brakes. Another great option is the power sun roof with wind deflector, at only 800 dollars. The Protege is comfortable, quick, and has excellent handling. As a six footer, my head would brush the interior roof in most cars of this size, unless I slouched a bit. Not so in the Protege. Even with the 4 speed automatic the car accelerates very well, and fuel economy drops by only one MPG highway compared to the standard transmission, while remaining the same in city driving. The car feels very solid on the road, while delivering a good, quality ride, if not exactly a butter-smooth one. Engine and road noise are present, but not intrusive. Mazda's bumper to bumper warranty period is 36 months/50,000 miles, as opposed to the 36/36 found on most other models. To me, the Protege is a blend of the best of Japanese and German car making philosophies.
Pros: The interior is awesome
Advice: spend the extra for the ESThe ES has low profile tires, which makes the car handle well. The ride is a little bumpy, but the car is very tight. I purchased two Protege ES's one auto one stick, I like driving both of them. The auto lacks a little poweras opposed to the stick. It is a very well built car.
Pros: Interior design and comfort.
Cons: Inadequate number of 12V outlets and limited storage.
Advice: Get the 2.0L engine.Style, power, handling, comfort, and features describe the '02 Protege ES. From the sweeping front clear halogen headlamps and fog lights to 16' alloy wheels with low-profile tires to the rear spoiler, it's pleasing to the eye. I like the interior color scheme and the carbon fiber look trim and enjoy the power moon roof. Power from the 2.0L is good paired to the 4sp w/OD and yeilds acceptable gas mileage (25/30). Handling is precise with a solid feel in corners and quick manuevers. Ride is comfortable without excessive road or engine noise. Dash and insurment layout is smart and clean. Comfortable room for 4 is good as long as 'six-footers' are in the front seats. ES model has most all features of other higher-priced and higher-model cars. We test drove Corolla, Sentra, Malibu, CR-V, Neon, and looked at many others (not all in the same line as Protege), but solidly decided on the 2002 Protege ES.