1995 Mazda Protege Sedan

4dr Sedan DX Manual

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1995 Mazda Protege for Sale

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  • Average Retail is not available
  • $12,395 original MSRP

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Printable Version

1995 Mazda Protege Sedan

Printable Version

1995 Mazda Protege Sedan


1995 Mazda Protege

Source: New Car Test Drive


It's not easy being an afterthought.

There are nearly 40 different nameplates vying for the attention of the American auto buyer, who often never even thinks about the smaller brands. That's the problem facing the newly redesigned Mazda Protege.

Mazda has flooded the market with new products over the last few years. Unfortunately, it hasn't had the money or marketing muscle to make its presence felt. In fact, you probably can't remember the last time you saw an ad for a Protege. It doesn't have the image or name recognition of cars such as the Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic or Plymouth Neon.

According to the marketing experts, car buyers tend to seriously consider only the top two or three cars on their list. that's too bad for buyers who might otherwise find a pleasant surprise in this stylish, sophisticated package.

By definition, the Protege is classified as a subcompact. But slip inside and you're in for a shock: There's nearly as much room inside as in a luxury car. Chrysler has been billing this concept as cab forward engineering. Mazda prefers the term OptiSpace. You'll just call it roomy.

The price tag is, unfortunately, nearly as big as the interior. Unless You're willing to live with a stripped-down package, you'll pay a premium to drive this one off the dealer's lot. Is the Protege worth the money? Here's a closer look.


Spawning from the aging Mazda 323 line, Protege has become Mazda's best-selling model line, though the numbers remain small compared with other Japanese models such as the Civic.

The old Protege was a stodgy looking sedan. The 1995 model, however, looks as if it was sculpted in the wind tunnel. Although it's certainly a lot more handsome than before, it's still sort of generic. The redesigned Protege has the same sort of jelly-bean styling that seems to characterize almost everything coming out of Japan these days.

The Protege will look good in your driveway but your neighbors may confuse it with a lot of other Asian automobiles. Of course, that may not be all bad. Some may mistake it for the hot new Mazda Millenia, a significantly more expensive and luxurious automobile.

It would take an engineer to see some of the biggest changes in the Protege's new unibody structure. Mazda claims the car has been stiffened a great deal. That means less flexing on rough roads and translates into both better handling and improved isolation.

To further reduce passenger compartment noise levels, Mazda has added sandwich sheet metal to areas like the engine compartment fire wall.

Side by side, You'll find the new Protege to be noticeably larger than the car it replaces: more than 3 in. longer, to be precise, with extra inches in length, width and wheelbase. Thankfully, the new Protege is also lighter. So we got more kick from the hard-working 1.5-liter engine in the Protege LX we test drove.

Interior Features

The Protege certainly measures up - at least when you're sitting inside. In the front or back, there's enough head- and legroom for a college basketball star. OptiSpace translates into 95.5 cu. ft. of passenger volume.

That's the largest in the subcompact segment, and only 2.5 cu. ft. less than the longer and more expensive Mazda 626.

Indeed, Mazda officials like to boast that the Protege has nearly the interior space of the Acura Legend, the BMW 5-Series, even the full-size Infiniti Q45.

The trunk is equally impressive, by the way, with 12.9 cu. ft. of cargo space - more than enough for an extended outing.

Space certainly isn't the only measure of luxury, and this car isn't in a class with BMW or even the Millenia. But Mazda did pay careful attention to the styling and fit-and-finish of the protege's interior.

The color coordination of the various plastics, vinyls and fabrics will please even the eye of a decorator.

Controls are generally quite well-placed, except for the radio, which is positioned near the bottom of the center console and requires a considerable stretch to operate. This is a weakness in many cars. You're likely to adjust the volume or change stations far more often than You'll tinker with the heater controls, so wouldn't it make sense to put the radio on top? The radio on our entry-level sedan, by the way, could best be described as tinny. It cried out for an upgrade.

One big gripe: a flimsy cup-holder that's too close for comfort to the stick shift. It could make things a little awkward, especially in stop-and-go traffic.

We found the seats to be good, on the whole, for what is classified as an economy car. Up front they're a little harder than we like, but they offer excellent lateral and lumbar support.

It's interesting to watch how Japanese carmakers are responding to the weak dollar. To keep their cars competitive, they're occasionally cutting corners. Usually these cutbacks are minor and well-hidden. On the Protege, you'll find one example when you flip down the sun visor: it's covered in a cheap vinyl with a fold-over vanity mirror flap like the ones the American automakers used to install in the '60s. It feels like it will crack and tear off after a few years of use.

That's not the only place Mazda has cut back. you'll have to spend around $14,000 to get some simple creature comforts, such as power mirrors and door locks, that are standard these days on less expensive American-made products.

Driving Impressions

It may be small, but the 1.5-liter engine on the DX and LX models is peppy. This in-line 4, capped by a dual overhead camshift, produces 92 hp at 5500 rpm and 96 lb.-ft. of torque at 4000 rpm. You won't win many races, but with the lighter body, you won't be left sitting at the stoplight, either.

Better yet, Mazda has taken great pains to improve both the emissions and fuel economy of the powertrain. The EPA numbers run 31 mpg in the city and 39 mpg on the highway for the 5-speed manual transmission. Also available is an optional 4-speed automatic.

We did find that the smaller engine tended to be a bit rough idling at stoplights - probably in need of some minor adjustment - but it was surprisingly smooth under most other driving conditions.

The base car's 13-in. tires are a big weakness, especially when cornering. They just can't handle the load, even though the protege's suspension seems up to the challenge. There are front and rear stabilizer bars, and the rear suspension is an all-new design. Except in tight corners, you'll appreciate the tight and precise steering.

If you like a little more performance, you might consider the top-of-the-line ES model, with its larger 14-in. wheels and 1.8-liter DOHC engine. That will pump the pony count up to 122 hp and 117 lb.-ft. of torque. But mileage will be cut back to 26 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway when paired with the manual transmission.

The spongy brakes deserve a complaint, though. They were effective but they didn't inspire confidence; we found ourselves braking a little earlier than normal just to be safe.


Did we mention that this is, technically, an economy car? That phrase is hard to use with a straight face when describing a vehicle that starts somewhere around $12,000 at the base end and goes for more than $16,000 for a well-equipped package.

The Mazda Protege is, on the whole, a very nice automobile. But its competence can't belie the fact that it is also an expensive automobile. For the money, there are other cars on the road that will offer you more. Maybe not as much interior space, but you'll be able to find a bigger engine, larger tires and more creature comforts.

In the end, it may be the protege's hefty price tag that reinforces this car's anonymity.

Model Line Overview
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Specifications As Tested
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Price as tested (MSRP)
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Printable Version

1995 Mazda Protege Sedan

Passenger Restraint

Driver Air Bag Std
Passenger Air Bag Std
Child Safety Locks Std

Road Visibility

Intermittent Wipers Std
Printable Version

1995 Mazda Protege Sedan

Mazda Certified Pre-Owned Warranty  help
Certified Pre-Owned Warranty
To be eligible for Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) status, vehicles generally must be recent models with relatively low mileage. CPO vehicles must also pass a detailed inspection, outlined by the manufacturer, which is measured by the number of inspected points.
Warranty coverage can vary from one manufacturer to the next. While most certified pre-owned programs transfer and extend the existing new car warranty terms, others offer a warranty that simply represents an additional year and mileage value. Always check with the manufacturer for the specific warranties they offer.
Common features and benefits of Certified Pre-Owned warranties include:
Age/Mileage Eligibility
To even be considered for certification, a car must be a recent model year and have limited mileage. The exact requirements are established by individual manufacturers.
Lease Term Certified
Some manufacturers offer certified pre-owned cars for lease. The length of the lease is often shorter than a new car lease, but it will cost you less.
Point Inspection
These inspections entail a comprehensive vehicle test to ensure that all parts are in excellent working order. The point inspection list is simply a numbered list of exactly what parts of the car are examined. While many inspections range from a 70- to 150-point checklist, most are very similar and are performed using strict guidelines. Ask your local dealer about specific details.
Return/Exchange Program
Some manufacturers offer a very limited return or exchange period. Find out if you will get the sales tax and licensing/registration fees back should you return or exchange the car.
Roadside Assistance
Most certified pre-owned programs offer free roadside service in case your car breaks down while still under warranty.
Special Financing
Reduced-rate loans are available through many certified pre-owned programs. Manufacturer-backed inspections and warranties help eliminate the risks involved with buying pre-owned, so buyers who qualify can take advantage of the great offers.
Transferable Warranty
When a new car warranty transfers with the certification of the car and remains eligible for the next owner, it is known as a transferable warranty. Once the original transferable warranty expires, an extended warranty takes effect.
Warranty Deductible
This is the amount for which you are responsible when repair work is performed under the warranty. Some manufacturers require a deductible while others don't, so always ask.

Having peace of mind on the road means being confident in what you're driving. Mazda vehicles continually rank among the most reliable cars on the road. Flywheel to freeze plug, thermostat to turbocharger, cylinder block to constant velocity points, our 7-Year/100,000-Mile Limited Powertrain Warranty has you covered.*

Every Mazda Certified Pre-Owned vehicle comes with a confidence-inspiring 12-Month/12,000-Mile Limited Vehicle Warranty with no deductible on covered repairs, which begins once the factory warranty ends. If it's out of warranty, the 12-Month/12,000-Mile Limited Vehicle Warranty begins on the CPO purchase date.**
Age/Mileage Eligibility 2011-2016 model years and less than 80,000 miles
Lease Term Certified No
Point Inspection 160-Point Detailed Inspection

Autocheck® Vehicle History Report with 3-year buyback protection from Experian***

Return/Exchange Program No
Roadside Assistance 24hr Roadside Assistance for the life of the Powertrain Limited Warranty offers confidence on the road around the clock.
Special Financing Yes, see your Mazda dealer for details.
Transferrable Warranty Yes
Warranty Deductible $0

Learn more about certified pre-owned vehicles

Printable Version

1995 Mazda Protege Sedan

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