Geo/Chevrolet Prizm

The Geo/Chevrolet Prizm manufacture by Geo/Chevrolet automobile company. Read more to view more detail and video reviews. Please feel free to comments and give rating to help others


The Geo/Chevrolet Prizm (Chevrolet Prizm starting 1998) was a United States-market entry-level compact car from model years 1989 through 2002. Like the 1985-1988 Chevrolet Nova it replaced, the Prizm was a rebadged version of the Toyota Sprinter, an upmarket version of the Toyota Corolla sold in Japan. All Prizms were built at NUMMI (New United Motor Manufacturing, Inc), a joint venture plant between Toyota and General Motors in Fremont, California.

The Prizm was introduced in 1989 for GM’s then-new Geo brand of import cars. The hatchback version sold through 1991 was a rebadged version of the Toyota Corolla Seca. The sporty GSi model of 1990-1992 was notable for its 130 horsepower (97 kW) twin-cam engine, sport suspension, disc brakes, and 14-inch (360 mm) wheels. In 1992, the lettering the car was changed from “Prizm” to “PRIZM” in italicized and capital letters. In Canada, the Prizm was never sold, opting for the brand to sell the Geo Metro sedan instead. However, the Geo Metro sedan was first sold in the United States in 1995.

The Prizm’s 1993 redesign gave it more room (resulting in an upgrade to United States Environmental Protection Agency? “compact” car status), a driver airbag, and a new 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine optional on LSi trim. With the larger engine came a rear stabilizer bar, wider tires, and an optional automatic transmission with 4 speeds instead of 3. A second airbag became standard in 1994; leather seats were an option on the LSi between 1994-1997. In contrast with the Corolla, this generation Prizm lacked a front stabilizer bar in its suspension, resulting in somewhat twitchier (some say “sportier”) handling.

The Prizm’s 1998 redesign coincided with the conversion of all Geos into Chevrolets. The most notable change was the new 1.8-liter engine, which was now all-aluminum, driven by a timing chain, and featured more power (yet the same fuel economy) than the engines from the Geo years. Along with the Corolla, the Prizm also became the first car in the compact class to offer optional side airbags. 1998 Prizms without the LSi’s optional “Handling Package” (containing a front stabilizer bar) were singled out by Consumer Reports for having sloppy emergency handling; Toyota addressed the problem for 1999 by making the Handling Package standard. For 2000, the engine gained variable valve timing for 5 extra horsepower (to 125). The last Prizms were built in December 2001, resulting in a brief 2002 model year. The Prizm was effectively replaced by the Pontiac Vibe, a twin of the Corolla-based Toyota Matrix hatchback.

In any generation, the Prizm’s distinctions over its Toyota twin mostly came down to minor cosmetic differences, a GM Delco radio (except on first-generation cars), and more substantially, the Prizm’s consistently lower perceived value. The bluebook value of a used Prizm typically stands $1,000-$2,000 below an equivalent Corolla.

All Prizms were powered by the same engine as the then present Toyota Corolla models.