Let me start by saying this car has been reliable for most of its life. I bought it at 77,000 miles, and its still running at 191,000+. It is by no means a flashy vehicle, but when the engine ran at peak efficiency, it got close to 40 MPG and ran smoothly.
But, at about the 130,000 mark, it started burning oil (1 quart every 1,000 miles or so). 60,000 miles later, it burns through about 1 quart every 50 miles. Further research via Google has shown that this is a common problem for the 2002 Prizms, and is related to narrow cylinders and bad seals. Keep this in mind if buying a Prizm from this final year of production. You'll be investing in lots of oil when it reaches a high mileage point.
- Fuel efficient (when it was oil efficient)
- Good handling
- Good suspension
- Handled Michigan and Ohio winters like a champ
- Made several cross country trips without any issues
- Oil burning issue is a deal killer
- Emissions Solenoid issue cropped up at about 100,000 miles
- Air Conditioning went out at about 120,000 (more than a recharge, this fix was about $500.00)