Suburban Dad: 2010 Mazda3 vs. 2002 Mazda Protege

2010mazda3

While the new Mazda3 has lots of advantages over my own ’02 Protegé, there are just enough changes for the worse that I wouldn’t pick that car today if I were looking for a second car for my family.

Back in 2002, I needed a car that I could commute solo 90 miles a day, five days a week, but I also needed a car that could carry all three kids and my wife if need be. The backseat offered plenty of room, or at least enough room that the kids wouldn’t kill each other.

Fast-forward to last week, and the Mazda3, which certainly is way more contemporary — and decked out to the nines — had a backseat that wasn’t comfortable for my three teens, or even the three smaller kids I had back in ’02. And yes, we know the 2010 actually has larger interior dimensions, sometimes those numbers don’t equal real-world testing with real-live bodies that don’t like being next to each other.

SDProtege

Don’t get me wrong: There’s plenty to like in the Mazda3s I tested, the most obvious being its powerful engine, and easy-to-use manual transmission. This particular Mazda3 had leather seats (heated!), built-in navigation and a pretty decent stereo. Let me digress here: If you’re going to sell a car with nav and heated leather seats, spring for the USB iPod connection; we know it doesn’t cost all that much, and assume that people who’d buy this car loaded to the teeth are going to want to listen to their iPod while they’re blasting their way through the countryside.

The biggest difference between the two cars: The Protegé ran me around $15,000 back in ’02; the Mazda3 with the 2.5-liter engine stickers out above $24,000. Now, of course, this isn’t apples to apples. You can get the smaller engine in the Mazda3i S, modestly equipped at $17,005 including destination. Add on eight years of inflation and the fact that the Mazda3 has more safety features, more power and slightly better fuel economy, and well, there’s less to argue with.

Still, this Mazda3 seemed odd all dolled up, and it’s hard for me to put my finger on it. My natural (and very American) instinct is to want a larger car for that much money (and not just for backseat room). The Mazda6 we tested in our $25,000 Family Sedan Shootout was nicely appointed, and it stickered at not much more than this Mazda3.

In the end, while the driver in me would love the Mazda3, the Dad in me finds this newer version of my reliable Protegé too cramped and too rich for this family.
By Suburban Dad | June 11, 2010 | Comments (24)

Comments 

DL

I tend to agree that it seems like a very American thing to want to go up in SIZE when you have more money. I wanted the Mazda3 back in '04 but ended up in a Mazda6 because it was actually significantly cheaper with discounts.

My point is, the Mazda6 was a little too big for driving and parking in Boston (the turning circle was worse than an SUV's), yet this generation is even BIGGER -- they clearly responded to the American market in that decision.

It's funny, most of the minivans on the market now have more cargo room than all SUV's (Suburban is bigger in some demensions), but that's where our desire for more room ends because of the ... stigma.

Tony

As somebody who experienced all Protege/3 versions, I can totally agree that Mazda3 is a car, which is not as good as Protege once was. I mean, it is better in its driving, and such but passenger/cargo configuration is going into worse territory.

Tony

what? $24,000? For these money I would rather get Prius. Is is not zoom -zoom, but it cool.

The Prius is a lot of things but I can assure you it is NOT cool. Never has been.

Ziggy

Looking at used cars for my son. Protege on our short list. Can fine used 98-99's for about $2,000. Same price for 93-94 camrys and accords and just as reliable.

55

prius is cool? Wow. I am surprised somebody really thinks that. (no sarcazm)

Tony

Ziggy,
mine is 98 ES, 170K miles , manual, 1 owner.
I am shivering when I think that I might have to replace it soon. I don't even know what can be as satisfactory?

Adjustments to equipment levels and prices seem to have helped—sales have since increased. Mazda redesigned the Protege for the 1999 model year and freshened it for the 2001 model year.

null null

This is, as usual, the most useless blog on kicking tires. Are you seriously performing a family car comparison of a 2002 tincan protege with zero safety features to a full featured loaded 3GT? Please, stop writing this nonsense blog.

Gary B

Null I completely agree. It's reminds of when my brother-in-law recently compared his '06 Malibu to a 2010 and proclaimed that even though he thinks his '06 was engineered and built poorly it's still better than the 2010. The cars are totally different so what's the point!

wafflesnfalafel

I think using the listed $24,000 sticker is not realistic. Take a look at the 'sport' model - comes with the big 2.5 hotter engine but not all the bangely dangely stuff, (heated leather seats are lame - they just add weight to the car and make your butt sweat.) You can get a manual tranny sport for 19,000. I have seen some 2.0 liter sedans for close to the $15,000 you paid for your 02 sedan - in non-inflation adjusted dollars.

People can get the smaller engine in the Mazda3i S, modestly equipped including destination. Add on eight years of inflation and the fact that the Mazda3 has more safety features, more power and slightly better fuel economy, and well.

Mazda3 is been the awesome one in all the parts of the looks as well as the technology also.People like a lot in pose of the things.Mazda redesigned the Protege for the 1999 model year and freshened it for the 2001 model year.

People can totally agree that Mazda3 is a car, which is not as good as Protege once was. They mean, it is better in its driving, and such but passenger/cargo configuration is going into worse territory.

The adjustments to the trim levels and prices seem to have contributed, sales have increased since then. Mazda Protege for 1999 model redesigned and renovated for the 2001 model year.

I just bought my wife one of those mazda 3i S, She loves it

I totally agree that the Mazda3 is a car that is not as good as it once Protects. I mean, it is best in conduct, and as a setting, but the passengers or cargo area is getting worse.

That is great, thx very much forall the informations I was looking for. au pair Very very good au pair usa I wish you all the best au pair world
find au pair It helped me a lot au pair uk

2010 Mazda 3 is available with 2.0-liter engine. It has fuel efficiency of 25miles per gallon in the city; 33 miles per gallon on the highways.

This is the information I was looking for, thanks you so much for sharing!

My last three cars have been Mazdas and I have had no problems. I have no intentions on changing. Very good product.

Please continue to write more because it’s unusual that someone has something interesting to say about this. Will be waiting for more…

The secon one is simply awesome!

Vic

I have a 2002 of the protégé DX. I got this car a year ago. I have a 07 suburban and a chevy cobalt that my wife drives and I need a gas saver for me so I bought my first Mazda I was not expecting much because I paid 2500 for it. Well it turns out that I love it. I can not stop thinking how great it must of been 2002. I wish I had bought it in 2002. This is my first mazda but it will not be my last one. I drive this car to work 600 miles one way every two weeks and l love it.

Post a Comment 

Please remember a few rules before posting comments:

  • If you don't want people to see your email address, simply type in the URL of your favorite website or leave the field empty.
  • Do not mention specific car dealers by name. Feel free to mention your city, state and brand.
  • Try to be civil to your fellow blog readers. This blog is not a fan or enthusiast forum, it is meant to help people during the car-buying process and during the time between purchases, so shoppers can keep a pulse on the market.
  • Stay on topic. We want to hear your opinions and thoughts, but please only comment about the specified topic in the blog post.
view posting rules

If you have a TypeKey or TypePad account, please Sign In

Search Results

KickingTires Search Results for

Search Kicking Tires

KickingTires iPhone App
Ask.cars.com