I bought this car because I have a '97 Prizm that I have really liked and been impressed with. While most aspects of the '01 model are better, the reliability has decreased in my opinion. I've had multiple problems with it within the first 6 months of ownership- most of them fairly minor, but a couple fairly expensive. The dealer replaced several sensors under warranty, but several other things have gone wrong since the warranty expired. Most alarmingly, the engine seems to be burning a lot of oil (about 1 quart every 1000 miles), especially considering that it only has 63,000 miles on it. If only was as reliable as my bullet-proof '97 Prizm.
I have a '97 Prizm that I really like, so I bought an '01 Prizm for my wife. Personally, I think they started to cheap out the newer models. My '97 with 112,000 miles on it feels, looks and drives better than my wife's 01 (with 62,000 miles), not to mention being more reliable. Since I got the '01, I've had to put in new MAF and O2 sensors and had vibration issues with the tires. Now the charcoal canister has gone out for another $385. I've been very disappointed after my great experience with the '97. In all fairness to GM/Toyota, it seems like the previous owner really beat up on the car, which may explain some of the repair issues.
Great fuel economy - averages 33-34 mpg in all city driving. Has a smooth ride, although the steering is a bit numb. All the repair issues have been relatively minor- i.e. the car still starts up and drives each day. Feels pretty roomy for a small car.
The 3 speed auto was a terrible idea. It's fine in the city, but the engine really strains at highway speeds. Steering/handling is numb and not so responsive. Simplify the emissions system, or find a way to keep the components from going bad so quickly.
This is a great family car, with enough room for Mom, Dad, and a couple of kids. Came with front dual airbags and there are rear seatbelts with shoulder straps and a special hook-up for an infant carseat. Makes me feel pretty safe. There is plenty of leg room for the average person and a good size trunk for lots of stuff. I find that the car handles very well and is fun to drive on the highway. It has real good pick-up. I like this car and friends that have driven my car have loved it too!!
I think I get very good gas milage. I'm not good with numbers but....when the tank is on "E" it takes about 11 gals to fill it. I reset the mile counter and go 400 miles befor it hits "E" again. At almost $3 a gal here, I figure $30 for 400 miles ain't bad.
I bought my Prizm in Nov of 2001. I really have enjoyed this car a lot. It has given me excellent fuel economy and the handling has been very good. I have had no mechanical problems of any kind. As far a dependable transportation goes this car is it. Period!!