bought at automall end of 2000 it had been in a rental fleet for the year, only owner, it is an automatic transmission mostly city driving at around 28mpg but very good highway at 65mph only (you can drive 75mph) gets around 35/38 mpg never had one problem with engine or transmission never added oil once my self just had regular changes around twice a year but only drive highway for 6 hours round trip maybe twice a month or so.... have replaced radiator, both front door inner handles, both safety belts for front seats, front breaks, and the usual belts and hoses also had to replace fuel tank as the pressure release valve on the top locked shut and the tank had already started to bulge .... had to replace fuel filter assembly, filter and pump in one assembly, and therefore costly. cassette broke and replaced radio too replaced dash gauge cluster lights too all in all I've had great luck with this car but drive very conservatively in fact my mechanic says I have excessive carbon and should burn it off by accelerating once in a while the engine light is off and only came on for the fuel tank problem and catalytic converter/carbon problem problems I have put off lost one diode in alternator, slight leak in rack-n-pinion steering, motor mounts, car feels a bit loose might be front struts/shocks etc. all in all I've had great luck with this car but bought it one year old and babied it ...... worst feature is the interior as the headliner is falling apart seats wear thin etc.
I've had my prizm for 13 years now. I have no trouble with it eating oil, as others have stated. The inner handles do break, however they are very easily replaced (under 5 minutes each) and if ordered online, very inexpensive (look for toyota corolla). Outer door handles break as well, the front ones aren't horribly difficult to replace. After 13 years, it is now starting to act up and trying to stall if it hasn't been driven in a few days, but after warming up runs just fine. No problem with AC or heater. My cd player did stop working however.
The Prism is a great around town car, but NOT for traveling. I have 260,000 miles on my manual shift and lost 4th gear last September and I am still getting over 34 miles to the gallon. The throwout bearing went bad at about 220,000 miles and we went ahead and rebuilt the motor since it was out and was losing compression. It runs like a new one except for the pesky 4th gear. The interior is very cheap and the door handles break easily. We bought this car new with only 11 miles on it, 8 we put on during the test drive. The car is great for around town and short trips less than 2 hours but uncomfortable on any further distance, especially in the back seat. The suspension is very cheap.
Needed a good car for school, thought the prizm was a good fit and bought one with only 40k miles on it. mpg is amazing on this car, getting 28-30 in the city! However, it consumes oil at an alarming rate (quart every 200m) so the saves equal themselves out. I maintained this car, changed oil and trans fluid but at 70k I can no trust it as reliable. Fuel pump just went out and now I am being told the transmission is going as well, so it's a piece of junk. Interior is VERY poorly made, door handles break, seats uncomfortable, everything is made of cheap plastic. Me personally, I have had enough of American cars and will NEVER put my money in them again... EVER!
We purchased this car new in 2000. I do not have one bad word to say about this car. It has been a great little car. No problems what so ever. It is the best value for a car I have ever bought. If all US car maker made their cars of this quality, they would not be in the mess that they now are in. Bravo to General Motors for this car.