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Car of the Week - November 4, 2002

2002 Mazda Protege5

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How about this cool looking hatch-wagon! The 2002 Mazda Protege5 at $16,815 includes power windows and locks, remote keyless entry, cruise control, tilt steering and an AM/FM/CD stereo with four speakers. It has a 2.0-liter 130-horsepower engine, which achieves ultra-low emission vehicle standards - 25 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway. It has really improved its handling - via a strut tower brace under the hood and stabilizer bars front and rear, engine-rpm-sensing power steering, a large 16-inch alloy wheels with P195/50R16 tires solidify the ride.

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The interior is a Protege sedan clone - with nice black-on-white gauges (daytime) that turn unfortunately blurry amber at nighttime - but easily accessed and a good thick three-spoke steering wheel. Seating is comfortable and rear seat folks benefit from height-adjustable head restraints, heat ducts and side door pockets. We got lots of positive feedback from folks who rode in or checked out the Protege5 leaving us with the feeling tht this spritely little compact hatch-wagon will be looked on with favor by the young family sector seeking an SUV alternative.

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- Mark Fulmer

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