Working together with Toyota, Chevrolet designed and built the Prizm, an entry-level compact car that had a good resale value and proven reliability. Manufactured form the New United Motor Manufacturing, Inc (NUMMI), General Motors’and Toyota’s joint-venture company, the Chevrolet Prizm was patterned the Toyota Corolla’s body. People chose the Prizm for its superb assembly quality, tasteful styling, and unmatched reliability record.
First Generation: From Sprinter to Prizm
General Motors introduced an all-new Geo brand of import cars in 1989 called the Prizm. Sold between 1988 and 1992, the first generation Chevrolet Prizm was offered as a 4-door sedan or a 5-door hatchback. There were three engine variants to choose from: a 1.6-liter 4A-FEI4, 1.6-liter 4A-GEI4 with 105-horsepower, and the 130-horsepower 1.6-liter 4A-GEI4 for the Prizm. A 4-speed automatic or 5-speed manual transmission was coupled with the Prizm’s engine variants. The Chevrolet Prizm GSi model was the sports package sold between 1990 and 1992. Built from the Toyota Sprinter Cielo’s body, it was fitted with a sport suspension, a 130-horsepower twin-cam engine, 14-inch alloy wheels, and a set of disc brakes.
Second Generation: Enter the Compact Prizm
In 1993, Chevrolet decided to redesign the Prizm to give it more room. The 4-door sedan was powered by a new 1.6-liter 4A-FEI4 engine with 105-horsepower. Although the second generation Prizm lacked a front stabilizer, it was equipped with a rear stabilizer bar, an optional 4-speed automatic transmission, and wider tires due to its larger engine. Since the Chevrolet Prizm was classified by the United States Environmental Protection Agency as a “compact sedan”, driver and passenger side airbags were equipped as standard safety features on the Prizm in 1994. Leather seat upholstery and a larger 1.8-liter 7A-FEI4 engine were fitted on the Chevrolet Prizm LSi trim models.
Third Generation: A Faster and Lighter Prizm
Equipped with an all-aluminum 1.8-liter 1ZZ-FEI4 engine, the 4-door Chevrolet Prizm was faster and lighter, thanks to its new engine and timing chain. Laser-etched valve guides on the Prizm’s new engine block prevented valve guide failure and oil burning. Also, Toyota’s Variable Valve Timing with Intelligence (VVT-i) was incorporated into the sedan’s new engine. The new Prizm was now more powerful and fuel-efficient. Optional side airbags were also offered on the Prizm, making it and the Corolla, the first sedans in the compact class to offer them. Due to a sloppy emergency handling, Toyota and Chevrolet included a front stabilizer on all the Prizm trims in 1999. Low popularity and decrease in sales lead Chevrolet to discontinue the Prizm. The Last Chevrolet Prizm rolled off the production line in December 13, 2001.