1999-2000 Mazda Protege
1999 • 2000
Jon Paulette is a veteran automotive writer who has spent a fair portion of his life hanging out at racetracks and talking to amazing people who make extremely loud cars reach ridiculous speeds. Despite all that, he still has enough hearing left to enjoy a stupidly large music collection. A native Virginian, Jon lives in the Charlottesville area, roots for the Nationals and would like a good BBQ sandwich right about now.
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The 1999-2000 Mazda Protege (Crutchfield Research Photo)
The 1999-2000 Mazda Protege is the automotive equivalent of that band you really liked during college. You know, the one that got great reviews and made every music magazine’s annual "Best of" list, but never went platinum and eventually faded into the cut-out bins. This Protege was every car magazine’s favorite economy sedan back in the day, but it kind of got lost in the shuffle and has largely been forgotten over the last decade or so. That’s a shame – unless you’re thinking about buying one.
If you just found a well-preserved ’99-’00 Protege, you’re in luck. The car has great bones, a comfortable interior, a willing engine, and a reputation for rather sporty handling. All it needs now is a little attention from an appreciative owner.
The Protege’s factory stereo system was decent for its time, but technology marches on and speaker cones fade into dust. The good news is that there are a number of upgrades available for your car. Mazda’s innovative “OptiSpace” interior design makes the Protege’s cabin a surprisingly nice place to be. A new stereo system will make it even better.
Replacing your factory radio
The factory receiver sits high in the dash, so it’s easy to reach and easy to live with. It’s not so easy to replace, but it’s not ridiculously hard, either – especially with a Crutchfield MasterSheet™, which comes free with your purchase.
The Protege's factory radio (Crutchfield Research Photo)
A variety of single-DIN receivers will fit here. (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Removing the old unit requires a set of DIN tools, which are U-shaped (or C-shaped, depending on how you’re holding them…) metal hooks used to pull the receiver out of the dash. They’re also free with your purchase.
To remove the old unit, carefully pry out the DIN hole covers with a small flat-blade screwdriver. These covers are small and plasticky, so be gentle and take your time. Once they’re out, carefully insert the DIN tools into either side of the radio. You’ll go about one inch or until a click is heard from each side. Spread the tools apart slightly, pull out the radio, and disconnect the wiring harness and antenna.
A number of 2" single-DIN receivers will fit in the Protege’s dash, though receiver depth can be an issue. Some slot in with ease, while others require you to cut out the factory stereo's metal rear support bracket to make room for the new receiver. A hacksaw blade will do the job.
Either way, you won’t need a special installation kit to install a new receiver in your Protege. All you’ll need is your tools and a wiring harness adapter, which is available at a deep discount with most stereos purchased from Crutchfield.
Steering wheel audio controls
If your car is equipped with steering wheel controls, the PAC steering wheel interface works with most aftermarket stereos. However, the steering wheel controls are a resistance-based feature in the Protege so iDatalink's Maestro ADS-MSW adapter will also work here. With a little extra programming, you can assign secondary functions to your steering wheel controls, which is a feature unique to the Maestro adapter. Either way, the connections are all at the radio location, which makes the installation more manageable.
Tools needed: Small flat blade screwdriver, panel tool, DIN tool
Replacing your factory speakers
Your Protege's stock speakers have undoubtedly seern better days, so replacing them with a set of quality aftermarket speakers will make a huge difference in sound quality.
The Protege's 6"x8" front speaker. (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Front door speakers
The Protege’s stock front door speakers are 6"x8" units, and there are same-size replacements available. You can also go with 5-1/4" speakers, but you’ll need an adapter bracket (available at a discount with your speaker purchase) to make them work.
You'll need to remove the door panels, of course, but that's really not tough at all. Just work carefully and take it easy on the plastic panels.
If your car is equipped with manual windows, work a shop rag (Or bandana, if that’s your style...) towards the rear of the crank and use a “shoeshine” motion to release the “C” clip on the rear of the crank.
Wiring harnesses for this speaker location are available at a deep discount with your Crutchfield speaker purchase.
Tools needed: Phillips screwdriver, small flat blade screwdriver, panel tool
Rear door speakers
Trick category! Seriously, the Protege doesn’t even have speakers in the rear doors. It has speaker grilles and speaker openings, but no speakers and no wiring. Odd, but explicable. While Stateside buyers only got the sedan model, a 5-door wagon was available in other markets. If we assume that the wagons had speakers in the rear doors, the vestigial speaker openings make more sense. The sedan has a deck, so Mazda skipped the 5-1/4" door openings and put a pair of 6"x9" speakers back there.
There's no speaker there--yet. (Crutchfield Research Photo)
A variety of 5-1/4"speakers will fit in the rear door openings, and a mounting bracket is included with your speaker purchase. But (and it’s a big one), there’s no speaker wiring, and no wiring harness available, so you’ll be running a lot of wire and doing a bit of splicing.
This is (obviously) a fair amount of work. If you absolutely insist on adding rear door speakers to your Protege, we recommend that you retain the services of a car stereo installation professional.
Tools needed: Phillips screwdriver, small flat blade screwdriver, panel tool
Rear deck speakers
The stock 6"x9" rear deck speakers can be replaced with a variety of same-size units, or you can install a set of 5-1/4" or 6-1/2" speakers. As with the front door speakers, mounting brackets and wiring harnesses are available at a discount with your purchase.
Replacing these speakers is is a relatively straightforward process. You’ll need to fold down the rear seats and remove a few panels and clips. The “easy-looking-thing-that-isn’t” part of the job involves removing the deck-mounted brake light assembly. It’s not that hard, really, but remember that you’re dealing with a plastic part that’s been baking in the sun for a decade or so. Be careful while you’re pushing, lifting and disconnecting the assembly.
The rear deck houses two 6"x9" speakers. (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Tools needed: Phillips screwdriver, a “stubby” Phillips screwdriver, panel tool
There's plenty of room for boom in the Protege's trunk. (Cruchfield Research Photo)
Adding bass to your Protege
While there are no custom-fit subwoofer kits for the Protege, you still have plenty of great options when it comes to adding bass. The car’s 12.9 cubic-foot trunk gives you a 39" W x 16" H x 35-31" D space to work with.
The sub you choose to install will depend on how you feel about luggage space. There’s plenty of room for a decent-sized sub enclosure if you want to build your own component system. Or, you can choose from a variety of enclosed and powered subs.
Either way, your Protege has plenty of potential.
While the dash opening restricts your ability to add a huge touchscreen nav receiver, it does allow you to consider a digital media receiver. If you’re free from CDs and want the best sound possible from your mobile device(s), one of these great receivers might be a terrific choice for your Protege.
If you’re planning to keep your factory radio, but still want to upgrade your infotainment options, we offer a variety of solutions. Add hands-free convenience to your cell phone, enjoy SiriusXM satellite radio, or purchase a portable GPS nav unit.
Installing a security system in your Protege is a relatively straightforward process, so there's nothing out of the ordinary about this installation. When installing a remote start system, the Protege does not require a transponder bypass module, which makes the installation a little easier and keeps the cost down. To install a security system or door lock integration, you'll need a 1.5K-ohm resistor and two E5000 relays. Or you can use the Xpresskit 451M door lock relay module which includes the resistors you'll need.
If you're on a budget, you can build a great-sounding system in affordable stages. Here's a three-step plan to make your Protege sound great:
Step One: Add a new radio and a set of speakers. In our experience, a new receiver is the most economical way to dramatically improve your Mazda’s sound. The factory speakers will sound better than ever and you'll enjoy the increased versatility of a new receiver. Adding new front and rear speakers will make a huge difference, of course, but if your car's stock speakers are in decent shape, you can always do that later.
Step Two: The next step towards truly great sound involves adding a 4-channel amplifier and a subwoofer. For now, you can use two channels for the front speakers and two channels for the sub.You'll be amazed at what a sub can do for your music's bottom end, plus you'll really hear the difference an amp makes in your front speakers. And if you do your pre-wiring now, you're just about ready to move on to the next step.
Step Three: Add a separate mono amp to power the sub. With the sub getting its own juice, you can wire the rear speakers into the 4-channel amp and hear your system in all its glory.