I’m the 2nd owner I have had it for15 years now all my kids learned to drive in it. It was so good in the snow we always seem to drive every one else around. People are always amazed how well it does handle in the snow. Where we live people park at the bottom of our neighborhood and walk home but not us 😀. It had 41000 miles when I bought it and it just turned 168000 the other day. It still sgets great mileage 30/36. I have the 1.6L. The only issue I have had is the exhaust manifold. It gets so hot at times it will crack it. The second time I bought the more expensive one at AutoZone and it came with a lifetime warranty. It has happened three times now. Its one of those cars that you know will start every time unless you leave the lights on.
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.
My wife and I each own a 97 Prizm. I have owned mine for 5 years and she has owned it for 8 years. I have the LSi and she has the standard model. We both have the 1600 standard engine. Both cars extremely reliable. Cost of ownership very low. Both are cars are salvaged and cost under $3,000. Other than normal maintenance have had 1 fuel injector replaced, starter motor. I switched the passenger seat with the drivers seat to increase seat comfort. Negative - Road noise, a little bit louder than other small cars I have owned, but a small issue overall.
Seats are more comfortable than cars costing twice as much, it looks good, LSi has power door locks and rear defroster. Built in Numi plant in Fremont CA, only a few miles from where I live.
Less road noise, but its a cheap car so what do you want?
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.
The motor: almost 200,000 miles on it, and I don't even hear it running. Of course, that could be my hearing but I don't think so. A friend who knows cars said the engine could run 95 mph for five hours, and he's probably right.
My one bad experience with this car was having to replace the transmission because the differential went after 110,000 miles. That was my fault because I never changed the oil in the differential. The manual should clearly state the need to do this.