In 1998, the Geo Prizm (otherwise known as the Chevrolet Prizm starting 1988) first came out in the US. It was an entry-level compact car made for the 1989-2002 model years. This vehicle replaced the 1985-1988 Chevrolet Nova and was a rebadged version of the Toyota Sprinter. A superb front-drive subcompact sedan, the Prizm offered the standard safety features such as dual airbags, daytime running lights, and front-seatbelt pre-tensioners. Manual transmission was standard with either a three-speed or four-speed engine. Among its many pros were its excellent ride, fuel economy, and optional antilock braking and side airbags.
1989-1992: The first generation
1989 saw the birth of the Prizm, which was offered in GM’s Geo brand of import cars. Its hatchback version was sold through 1991 and its sporty GSi saw great success through its 1990-1992 run. The GSi came with impressive 130 horsepower twin-cam engine, sport suspension, disc brakes, and 14-inch wheels. In 1991, the lettering of the word Prizm was capitalized and italicized, and the door frames on the base models were body-colored instead of the standard black.
1993-1997: The second gen
After its initial design, the Prizm went through several changes in its second coming in order to improve its drivability, style, and power. The vehicle became roomier, upgrading it to the status of United States Environmental Protection Agency “compact” car. It was also given a new driver airbag and a more potent 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine that came optional on the LSi trim. Due to the larger engine, the second gen Prizm came with a rear stabilizer bar, wider tires, and optional four-speed automatic transmission. In 1994, a second airbag became standard, with the LSi offering optional leather seats from 1994 to 1997.
1998-2002: The third and final chapter
The Prizm went through several changes in 1998 when all Geos were converted into Chevrolets. One notable change was the 1.8-liter all-aluminum engine, which was driver by a timing chain instead of a belt. This engine featured more power while maintaining the same fuel economy as compared to the Geo years. The latest Prizms were lighter than their predecessors thanks to the all-aluminum 1ZZ-FE engine, which incorporated laser-etched valve guides directly in the block. In 1999, the Prizm’s emergency handling was improved using a standard handling package. And in 2000, the engine gained variable valve timing for a much improved 125 horsepower. The last Prizm was built on December 13th, 2001, marking the end of an impressive run by this outstanding Geo vehicle.