Used 1997 Geo Prizm

1997 Geo Prizm
List Price Estimate
$901 - $2,128

Pros & Cons

  • Bulletproof reliability, suave sheetmetal
  • Lousy value, lame standard equipment list, flaccid handling
Geo Prizm years
1997
Geo Prizm for Sale

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 Prizm has earned very high marks in initial quality studies, scoring better than the Infiniti G20 and Honda Accord.

But who's gonna buy the darn thing? Rebates were available throughout most of the 1996 model year, as dealers struggled to reduce a serious oversupply of Prizms. If the car is so good, what's the problem? The Chevrolet Cavalier is the problem. The two models compete for showroom space at Chevrolet/Geo dealers, and compact car shoppers have discovered that the Cavalier is not only more powerful and roomier inside, but it is also less expensive.

Still, there are compelling reasons to choose the Prizm. Its excellent reliability record, coupled with tasteful styling and outstanding assembly quality go 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.

Order the optional 1.8-liter twin-cam four-cylinder engine, mate it to a five-speed manual transmission, and you've got yourself a zippy little sedan. The torquey 1.8-liter motor pulls strongly around town, and cruises effortlessly at highway speeds. 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 from gear to gear fluidly.

The Prizm is due for a complete redesign next year, so news for 1997 is rather limited. All Prizms meet federally mandated side-impact standards for the first time. Base models add power steering to the standard equipment list. New door trim panels with front map pockets debut, and the LSi Convenience Package now includes a passenger door power lock switch. Four new exterior colors help keep things fresh until new sheetmetal arrives.

Prizm is strictly econo-issue in base trim, but add aluminum wheels and leather seats to an LSi, and the Prizm transforms itself into a mini-Lexus. 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 Chrysler Cirrus LXi, a Ford Contour SE, or a loaded Cavalier LS (which would save you several thousand dollars). Keep a lid on the options, and the Prizm makes much more sense.

1997 Highlights

The Prizm is essentially carried over for 1997, sporting new door trim panels, standard power steering, new exterior colors, and strengthened side-impact protection.

Scorecard

Overallundefined / 5

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 1997 Geo Prizm.

5 star reviews: 71%
4 star reviews: 24%
3 star reviews: 2%
2 star reviews: 3%
1 star reviews: 0%
Average user rating: 4.6 stars based on 41 total reviews

Trending topics in reviews

  • reliability & manufacturing quality
  • fuel efficiency
  • maintenance & parts
  • oil
  • engine
  • climate control
  • driving experience
  • handling & steering
  • brakes
  • emission system
  • safety
  • ride quality
  • value
  • transmission
  • acceleration
  • road noise
  • comfort
  • dashboard
  • lights
  • wheels & tires
  • appearance
  • interior
  • electrical system
  • seats
  • spaciousness
  • warranty

Most helpful consumer reviews

5 out of 5 stars, 315,000 miles, and I still can't scrap it
Leslie,
4dr Sedan

I inherited my 1997 Geo Prizm from my father when I was 16 years old (I'm currently 26). At the time it had already been in his possession for 7 years. It was a stick shift. I learned with no RPM gauge, and I attest to date that it is the best car to learn stick on; it's industrial strength, you learn by sound and feel, and the clutch isn't very sensitive. It's now a 19 year old car, and has 315,000 miles on it. It has taken me on multiple round trips from Columbus to Chicago and DC, and I still drive it safely on multi (3 +) hour trips. I have invested very little until these last final two years in repairs. (Most issues are general wear/age issues, the most recent my sad reality check--rusted brake lines). I haven't calculated mileage in a minute, but several years ago it was *still* running over 37 mpg. It is so well loved that I can't stand to trade it in, and will be giving it away to a friend, who says that even at 315k miles it is more reliable than his own vehicle.

4.625 out of 5 stars, Positive+
Bill Golden,

This is the best car I've ever owned by a long shot. It has almost 194,000 miles on it, and I bought it used in '98 with a little over 5,000. These are some hard earned NJ miles with generally bad road conditions and extremes in weather. I love its reliability! In fact I'm replacing the timing belt this week -- overdue, I know -- with intentions of taking it as far as I can. But a word of advice: if you have an automatic, get the differential oil checked as well as the transmission. I've learned very little about cars since I've had this Prizm, but that was one big expensive lesson.

4.625 out of 5 stars, still going strong
dercpi,

Hands down, the best vehicle I have ever owned due to its reliability and cost savings. The styling remains fresh if not fresher today than some of the crap being built now. My first was a 1994 LSi lease. It, too, was flawless. I drove my '97 off the showroom floor with 3/10's of a mile on it. As of today, it has exactly 310,000 miles on it! The engine and transmission remain original as does the exhaust and most of the suspension. The fit and finish remain strong as does the interior. Not bad considering it has never been garaged. It still gets great gas mileage, burns very little oil and has no squeaks. Why this model/line was ever killed off beats me. Wake up GM, you blew it.

5 out of 5 stars, built to last
geo prizm,

Bought my first Prizm in 97 and put 200,000 miles on it. I then sold it too my sister in law and she still drives it today. At the time I sold it to her it was still on the original everything. Only replaced one cv joint and brake job usual tuneups but everything else is original to the car. She now has well over 250,000 on it and still drives it to school everyday. I bought another 97 at a great price with a 100,000 and am sure to get another 100,000. Can't go wrong with these cars \ 94-97 models

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Features & Specs

4dr Sedan features & specs
4dr Sedan
N/A
MPG 26 city / 31 hwy
Seats 0
5-speed manual
Gas
100 hp @ 5600 rpm

LSi 4dr Sedan features & specs
LSi 4dr Sedan
N/A
MPG 26 city / 31 hwy
Seats 0
5-speed manual
Gas
100 hp @ 5600 rpm

See all Used 1997 Geo Prizm features & specs

Safety

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.

Frontal Barrier Crash RatingRating
OverallNot Rated
Driver4 / 5
Passenger4 / 5
Side Crash RatingRating
OverallNot Rated
Side Barrier RatingRating
OverallNot Rated
Driver3 / 5
Passenger3 / 5
Combined Side Barrier & Pole RatingsRating
Front SeatNot Rated
Back SeatNot Rated
RolloverRating
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 TestNot Tested
Roof Strength TestNot Tested
Rear Crash Protection / Head RestraintNot Tested
IIHS Small Overlap Front TestNot Tested
Moderate Overlap Front Test
0

FAQ

Is the Geo Prizm a good car?
The Edmunds experts tested the 1997 Prizm both on the road and at the track. You probably care about Geo Prizm fuel economy, so it's important to know that the Prizm gets an EPA-estimated 28 mpg. What about cargo capacity? When you're thinking about carrying stuff in your new car, keep in mind that the Prizm has 12.7 cubic feet of trunk space. And then there's safety and reliability. Edmunds has all the latest NHTSA and IIHS crash-test scores, plus industry-leading expert and consumer reviews to help you understand what it's like to own and maintain a Geo Prizm. Learn more
Is the Geo Prizm reliable?
To determine whether the Geo Prizm is reliable, read Edmunds' authentic consumer reviews, which come from real owners and reveal what it's like to live with the Prizm. Look for specific complaints that keep popping up in the reviews, and be sure to compare the Prizm's average consumer rating to that of competing vehicles. Learn more
Is the 1997 Geo Prizm a good car?
There's a lot to consider if you're wondering whether the 1997 Geo Prizm is a good car. Safety scores, fuel economy, cargo capacity and feature availability should all be factors in determining whether the 1997 Prizm is a good car for you. Check back soon for the official Edmunds Rating from our expert testing team Learn more
How much should I pay for a 1997 Geo Prizm?

The least-expensive 1997 Geo Prizm is the 1997 Geo Prizm LSi 4dr Sedan. Including destination charge, it arrives with a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of about $0.

Other versions include:

    Learn more
    What are the different models of Geo Prizm?
    If you're interested in the Geo Prizm, the next question is, which Prizm model is right for you? Prizm variants include 4dr Sedan, and LSi 4dr Sedan. For a full list of Prizm models, check out Edmunds’ Features & Specs page. Learn more

    More about the 1997 Geo Prizm

    Used 1997 Geo Prizm Overview

    The Used 1997 Geo Prizm is offered in the following submodels: Prizm Sedan. Available styles include 4dr Sedan, and LSi 4dr Sedan.

    What do people think of the 1997 Geo Prizm?

    Consumer ratings and reviews are also available for the 1997 Geo Prizm and all its trim types. Overall, Edmunds users rate the 1997 Prizm 4.6 on a scale of 1 to 5 stars. Edmunds consumer reviews allow users to sift through aggregated consumer reviews to understand what other drivers are saying about any vehicle in our database. Detailed rating breakdowns (including performance, comfort, value, interior, exterior design, build quality, and reliability) are available as well to provide shoppers with a comprehensive understanding of why customers like the 1997 Prizm.

    Edmunds Expert Reviews

    Edmunds experts have compiled a robust series of ratings and reviews for the 1997 Geo Prizm and all model years in our database. Our rich content includes expert reviews and recommendations for the 1997 Prizm featuring deep dives into trim levels and features, performance, mpg, safety, interior, and driving. Edmunds also offers expert ratings, road test and performance data, long-term road tests, first-drive reviews, video reviews and more.

    Our Review Process

    This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

    We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.

    What's a good price for a New 1997 Geo Prizm?

    Which 1997 Geo Prizms are available in my area?

    Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 1997 Geo Prizm for sale near. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a car from our massive database to find cheap vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the 1997 Geo Prizm.

    Can't find a new 1997 Geo Prizms you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

    Find a new Geo Prizm for sale - 1 great deals out of 17 listings starting at $7,418.

    Find a new Geo for sale - 7 great deals out of 17 listings starting at $13,818.

    Why trust Edmunds?

    Edmunds has deep data on over 6 million new, used, and certified pre-owned vehicles, including rich, trim-level features and specs information like: MSRP, average price paid, warranty information (basic, drivetrain, and maintenance), features (upholstery, bluetooth, navigation, heated seating, cooled seating, cruise control, parking assistance, keyless ignition, satellite radio, folding rears seats ,run flat tires, wheel type, tire size, wheel tire, sunroof, etc.), vehicle specifications (engine cylinder count, drivetrain, engine power, engine torque, engine displacement, transmission), fuel economy (city, highway, combined, fuel capacity, range), vehicle dimensions (length, width, seating capacity, cargo space), car safety, true cost to own. Edmunds also provides tools to allow shopper to compare vehicles to similar models of their choosing by warranty, interior features, exterior features, specifications, fuel economy, vehicle dimensions, consumer rating, edmunds rating, and color.

    Should I lease or buy a 1997 Geo Prizm?

    Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

    Check out Geo lease specials