Used 1999 Chevrolet Prizm

1999 Chevrolet Prizm
List price range

Pros

  • Reliability. Zippy powertrain when equipped with a manual transmission. Optional side airbags.

Cons

  • Ho-hum personality. High price.

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Edmunds' Expert Review

vehicle overview

In short, the Prizm is one of the best compact cars money can buy. It does everything well and looks good, too. Better yet, it is essentially a reskinned Toyota Corolla, which bodes well for reliability and resale value. To top things off, the previous-generation Prizm earned very high marks in initial quality studies, scoring better than the Infiniti G20 and Honda Accord.

But there is a problem, and that problem is price. Slotted between the Cavalier and Malibu, the small Prizm is no bargain once options are added. In some cases, a well-equipped Prizm is more expensive than a similarly loaded Malibu.

Still, there are compelling reasons to choose the Prizm. Its excellent reliability record, coupled with tasteful styling and outstanding assembly quality, goes a long way toward selling consumers on the Prizm. The car feels substantial, conveying the impression that it will last quite a long time. In contrast, the Cavalier feels somewhat cheap, flimsy and unrefined. The solid Malibu doesn't appeal to buyers looking for a smaller package.

A 120-horsepower engine is standard on all Prizms, and side airbags are optional. A handling package consisting of larger tires and a front stabilizer bar has been discontinued, though front and rear stabilizer bars are standard. All interior fabrics feature Scotchgard stain protection and the exhaust system is composed of stainless steel. As on last year's model, and in a break with GM tradition, antilock brakes are optional rather than standard.

Interior accommodations are rather sparse in base Prizms, but LSi's come with uplevel fittings and trim. Either model offers excellent ergonomics; all the switches and controls fall readily to hand and the gauges are clear and legible. The seats are firm but comfortable. The clutch is a joy to work and the five-speed manual snicks fluidly from gear to gear.

Prizm is strictly econo-issue in base trim, but add aluminum wheels and a premium equipment package to a LSi, and the Prizm transforms itself into a mini-Camry. Also available is a CD player and extended range speakers that sound great. Truly, a fully loaded Prizm is a fine car. However, a Prizm LSi with every available option closes quickly on $20,000. For that kind of cash you can buy a Honda Accord, a Ford Contour, a Nissan Altima or a Chevrolet Malibu LS. The identically sized Cavalier LS would save you several thousand dollars and include a generous level of trimmings. Keep a lid on the options, however, and the Prizm makes much more sense.

Top consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 1999 Chevrolet Prizm.

mine seems to be a piece of junk
stacyinjax, 3/21/2010
I bought this car for easy commuting for good fuel economy. It was essentially a Corolla. This means I thought I wouldn't have to put a bunch of cash into it for repairs. WRONG! I have only put 38,000 miles on it and have had to put brakes, a starter, new strut on it. Now the power steering is leaking and transmission are gone. And when I had it at the mechanic the door handle went. I'm so disappointed because I've maintained it. Not to mention that every time I put the air or heat on the noise from the blower is an annoying high pitched whistle! Get blown all over the highway,I'm an old lady and old lady blow by me. Just a hazard. I should have bought the Corolla.
1999 Chevy Prizm - 4 Dr Base Model
Ess Bee, 5/20/2010
I bought this car from a family member, with 14,000 mi. on it. I've followed the maintenance manual and have had NO problems! I've had to replace the tires, oil, spark plugs, serpentine belt and battery; the normal maintenance stuff. I had to have the A/C charged a few times - but that only $20. It now has 115,000 miles and has NEVER broken down. It's been a fabulous car! I was informed that it is really a TOYOTA COROLLA with a Chevy name plate on it. Chevrolet and Toyota entered into a Joint Venture and produced this wonderful, dependable car - I wouldn't have purchased it otherwise. And it's great on gas.
Great Gas Mileage/Reliable Car
Mike Steidemann, 9/27/2004
I have owned two Chevy Prizms. One was a 1998 automatic and the one I own now is the 1999 5 speed LSI. I liked both cars, but I found that the automatic only averaged about 30 MPG while the stickshift averaged about 32.5 miles per gallon. Both cars were very reliable for me. I would suggest either version for a budget tight driver. The Prizm was also built on the same line as the Toyota Corolla and they are basically the same car.
Best car I have ever owned
pteixeira, 9/29/2011
I bought this car new, ordered it in fact, down to every feature. It was my very first new car. Fast forward 12 years and my baby has 120,000 miles on her and has never let me down. Ever. I replaced the tires a few times, the compressor on the air conditioner and a few minor things, but this car has never left me stranded at the roadside. I still get 35-40mpg. I will drive this car till the wheels fall off. I expect to put on another 100,000 easily.
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Features & Specs

MPG
26 city / 34 hwy
Seats 0
5-speed manual
Gas
120 hp @ 5600 rpm
MPG
26 city / 34 hwy
Seats 0
5-speed manual
Gas
120 hp @ 5600 rpm
See all Used 1999 Chevrolet Prizm features & specs

Safety

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver4 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver4 / 5
    Passenger3 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    RolloverNot Rated
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Not Tested
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Not Tested
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test
    Acceptable

More about the 1999 Chevrolet Prizm
Used 1999 Chevrolet Prizm Overview

The Used 1999 Chevrolet Prizm is offered in the following submodels: . Available styles include 4dr Sedan, and LSi 4dr Sedan.

What's a good price on a Used 1999 Chevrolet Prizm?

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