I've owned a well used '98 Prizm for for over six years now and at 166K it still runs and does not give me headaches. The mileage is great, I can go almost a whole month without refilling the tank. Heater and AC are strong and quick to action. However it handles poorly, becomes shaky, and burns huge amounts of oil at high speeds, so avoid the interstate. May get water into engine if roads are wet enough to puddle. Interior is very cheap, with some parts snapping or peeling with age. Door handles WILL eventually bust. Steering wheel module and shifter unfortunately made of very soft materials that easily scratch & collect dirt or hand gunk. I have had to replace rear shocks, power steering.
Personally I like it appearance wise, not too boxy or zany. Sleek, Japanese look. (basically a Toyota Corolla inside and out) Very fuel efficient and has more cargo space than appearance suggests. Previous owner actually destroyed the starter and burned out the engine yet it was fixed with no further problems. I think you could drop the thing off a cliff or remove parts and it would still run. I have not had any significant or very expensive problems with it, it has never stalled, overheated, or broke down. Very good at sharp turns, very few blind spots.
As far as used cars go, very good. It will be a loyal and low maintenance servant for many years if you can find one that wasn't abused.
People either love the Prizm or hate it. My take away is it's not a terrible car. It's really not a great one either. It could have been built with better quality components concerning the body paint, shocks, and interior plastic components. The typically 90's low ride of it makes it prone to issues involving rain or floods, so take caution by driving a bit slowly and avoiding large puddles if the roads are wet. Even a small amount of water can make the engine protest or worse.
This is a completely honest review of my 1998 Prizm. The bad: -boring look -less than expected 4 cylinder pep -awful body roll on corners -a lot of rattles on bumpy road at 170,000 -way to loud at any speed over 70 mph the good: -unbelievable reliability -quality parts-quality -comfortable ride at 65 mph -Superior gas mileage -not a bad size overall inside -easy dash layout my Prizm refuses to die. I bought it with 150,000 miles currently has 170,000. I have done nothing but change plugs and fluid, air filter. I Punch this car at every stop, it shifts smooth every time. Engine is not bad at all performance wise for its mileage. Don't be afraid to buy one with high miles! Commuters<----buy!
-Gas mileage -Reliability -Small, easy to drive -Does everything i need to do -Starts, runs, shifts the same every single day. -Peppy engine -Commute 80 miles 5 days a week. No problems
-Cruise Control! -Buy one with a 4 speed, i have the three speed auto and its super loud on the highway. Good job Toyota! Chevy obviously can take no credit for this vehicle considering the only Chevy part in it broke at 150,000-Ac Compressor. Next one i buy will be a 2001 Corolla with pw,pl,cruise
My little car has 160,000 miles & it's going strong. A few things have gone awry such as I had to replace the starter shortly after I bought it (it had 105k miles when I got it in 2006), the front passenger door handle broke and so did the AC but it's been a great first car. No engine problems at all. It does eat oil fast which is annoying to refill so often. I get anywhere from 31-34 mpg. I've taken it on many long distance trips and it's always a joy to drive.
The cloth seats are so comfy. The heater heats up fast. Love the rear defrost.
Sleeker body and inside that isn't made of plastic.
This is the 3rd Prism I've bought new. I used to buy a new one every 2 -3 yrs with an 84/day commute. Since I done have the drive anymore, I am driving this one til it dies. I have 130k and have never had anything serious to repair. A new battery, tires and just today a new starter. I had to repair 2 of the doors and one of the electric locks doesn't work. I would definitely buy another Prism!
Position and ease of the 5-speed stick and great visibility, of course not to mention the reliability! Trunk space is great too!
Purchased 2 months ago with 186K (one owner) on it, but you'd never know it. Body replaced head cover gasket, rear brakes & p.s. hoses. It runs great, gets 24-27 city. No trips yet but expect 35+. I'm 6'-3" and 270#, so it's a bit cramped to get in (wish it was higher off ground) but comfortable once inside. Plenty of head and leg room - I can actually stretch my left leg (bad knee) all the way out!! (No can do on 80% of other cars.) Radio speaker blocked by my leg. Plenty of pickup for my needs, GEO Prizms have 1.6L not 1.8L, you can really tell the difference, and with better MPG! (29-36 EPA) Auto trans. shifts very smoothly. Only thing not working is dome light - I must do manually
Gas mileage and pickup. Looks good. Head and leg room. Huge trunk. Truck release & light nice. Very quiet engine (after 45 second warmup). Clear view of road and instruments. Auto lights daytime. Easy handling and easy to park. Good size gas tank. Nice hub cap design.
Higher off ground. Speaker placement. Arm rest. I prefer GEO velour type seats.