1996 Geo Prizm Review

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List Price Estimate
$822 - $1,943

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Edmunds' Expert Review

Vehicle overview

In short, the Prizm is the best compact car 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.

Order the optional 1.8-liter twin-cam four-cylinder engine, mate it to a five speed, and you've got yourself a competent little sport 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 trim level 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.

All 1996 Prizms are equipped with daytime running lights, and three new exterior colors join the roster. Base models get a cargo area light and a remote trunk release. Newly optional on LSi models is an integrated child safety seat and a convenience package that includes power windows, locks and cruise control.

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 happens to top $19,000. For that kind of cash you can buy a Chrysler Cirrus LXi, a Ford Contour SE, or a three-year-old BMW 3-Series. Keep a lid on the options, and the Prizm makes much more sense.

1996 Highlights

An integrated child safety seat is optional on the LSi, and daytime running lights debut. Three new exterior colors and added equipment to the base model round out the changes to this excellent compact.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 1996 Geo Prizm.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

It was a sunny day in 1997 when I first laid eyes on on the beauty i would come to know as VERONIKA. I spent my formative years growing up with this car, i remember endless summers riding with my family out to california to explore modern america! As I approached the age of 16 when this car was still the "nice one" I was humbled and delighted to recieve this vehicle. Me and VERONIKA have spent some of my best years together, but she was dependible through the worst. Now, as I approach the end of my life, VERONIKA approaches her end also. She has a hefty 423,761 load on her, and while she still goes to town, her age is showing. I will allways remember VERONIKA as my truested escort, forever.
Do not get rid of this car
My husband and I bought our Lsi from his uncle used. We have 211K on it and it's still going strong. Best little car we have ever owned beside our 1982 chevy chevette manual. Our 10 year old daughter and 100 lb. golden retriever sleep comfortably in the back and my husband hauls his fishing and hunting toys with ease(the dog goes in front of course) we've taken this car on many winter trips and to Canada with no problems. We change oil every 3K new tires when needed and never have had a problem starting it even in 45- winter winds. If you have this car hang onto to it for life and give it the little tlc it needs. We purchased a Pontiac Vibe. The Geo will now be a school car. We'll missed it!
Bulletproof reliability
i love this car, right now i'm at 62,000 miles and the only thing i had to change was the oil. good power to weight ratio and very good handling w/wide tires. i get an average of 30mpg with 87 octane (mostly city driving).
225,000 miles and still going!
Hands down, this is the most inexpensive cost-to-own vehicle EVER. It's a Toyota Corolla with a Geo badge on the back. I've owned this one for 8 years and it was a rental car in its former life. Despite that abuse, I've done nothing aside from routine maintenance and replace the occasional worn-down part. It has never broken down one time and regularly gets 28-32 mpg. The downsides: it is a rattle machine - EVERYTHING vibrates in the car like mad! Don't buy this car if you want engine power or handling - it has neither of those. What it does have is insane reliability, cheap parts, good gas mileage and it's easy to work on yourself. 300,000 miles, here I come!

Features & Specs

26 city / 32 hwy
Seats 0
5-speed manual
105 hp @ 5800 rpm
26 city / 32 hwy
Seats 0
5-speed manual
105 hp @ 5800 rpm
See all Used 1996 Geo Prizm features & specs


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
    DriverNot Rated
    PassengerNot Rated
  • 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

More about the 1996 Geo Prizm

Used 1996 Geo Prizm Overview

The Used 1996 Geo Prizm is offered in the following submodels: Prizm Sedan. Available styles include 4dr Sedan, and LSi 4dr Sedan.

What's a good price on a Used 1996 Geo Prizm?

Shop with Edmunds for perks and special offers on used cars, trucks, and SUVs near Ashburn, VA. Doing so could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Edmunds also provides consumer-driven dealership sales and service reviews to help you make informed decisions about what cars to buy and where to buy them.

Which used 1996 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) 1996 Geo Prizm for sale near. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned 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 Used 1996 Geo Prizm.

Can't find a used 1996 Geo Prizms you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Geo Prizm for sale - 4 great deals out of 9 listings starting at $21,573.

Find a used Geo for sale - 8 great deals out of 11 listings starting at $14,744.

Find a used certified pre-owned Geo Prizm for sale - 10 great deals out of 17 listings starting at $10,884.

Find a used certified pre-owned Geo for sale - 2 great deals out of 11 listings starting at $17,947.

Should I lease or buy a 1996 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.

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Check out Geo Prizm lease specials