Geo Prizm

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Geo/Chevrolet Prizm
2nd Geo Prizm -- 05-23-2010.jpg
Also calledGeo Prizm (1990–1997)
Chevrolet Prizm (1998–2002)
Model years1989–2002
AssemblyFremont, California
Body and chassis
ClassSubcompact car (1989–1992)
Compact car (1993–2002)
LayoutTransverse front-engine, front-wheel drive
PlatformToyota E90, E100, E110 platforms (known within GM as the S platform)
PredecessorChevrolet Nova
SuccessorPontiac Vibe
Chevrolet Cobalt

The Geo/Chevrolet Prizm (Chevrolet Prizm starting 1998) was a compact car derived from the Japanese domestic market Toyota Sprinter, itself a version of the Toyota Corolla, and jointly developed by Toyota and General Motors, the latter referring to the development as the S-car. Produced from 1988 to 2002, the Prizm was sold exclusively in the United States and succeeded the 1985–1988 Chevrolet Nova, which was also derived from the Sprinter.

All Prizms were built at NUMMI (New United Motor Manufacturing, Inc.), a joint venture company between Toyota and General Motors in Fremont, California.

Production concluded in 2002, and the Prizm was replaced by the Pontiac Vibe, also related to the Corolla and produced at NUMMI.

First generation[edit]

First generation
90-92 Geo Prizm.jpg
Also calledToyota Sprinter
Model years1990–1992
Body and chassis
Body style4-door sedan
5-door hatchback
Wheelbase95.7 in (2,431 mm)
Length170.7 in (4,336 mm)
Width65.2 in (1,656 mm)
Height52.4 in (1,331 mm)

The Prizm was introduced in February 1989 for GM's then-new Geo brand of import cars, for the 1990 model year.[1] The hatchback version sold through 1991 was a rebadged version of the Toyota Sprinter Cielo, although unlike the Sprinter (and Corolla liftback) it received the same front clip as the sedan. The sporty GSi model of 1990–1992 was notable for its 130 hp (97 kW) twin-cam engine, sport suspension, disc brakes, and 14-inch wheels, a successor to the 1988 Nova twin-cam but less of a limited edition, available in both body styles and a full array of colors in contrast to the earlier model's black sedan only. They were the only four-door models offered with the 4A-GE engine in America, no Toyota model ever offered that combination. The regular engine offered 102 hp (76 kW).[1] In addition to the base and the GSi, there was also a better equipped standard-engine LSi model. In addition to more equipment, the LSi also received body colored bumpers.

In 1991, the lettering of the car's name was changed to "Prizm" in italicized and capital letters (although the steering wheel continued to use Prizm), and the B-pillar and door frames on base models were body-colored instead of black. The Prizm was not sold In Canada, with GM offering a sedan version of the Geo Metro instead. The Geo Metro sedan was not available in the United States until 1995.

Second generation[edit]

Second generation
2nd Geo Prizm .jpg
Also calledToyota Sprinter
Model years1993–1997
Body and chassis
Body style4-door sedan
RelatedToyota Corolla (E100)
Toyota Sprinter
Transmission5-speed manual
3-speed automatic
4-speed automatic
Wheelbase97.0 in (2,464 mm)
Length173.0 in (4,394 mm)
Width66.3 in (1,684 mm)
Height53.3 in (1,354 mm)
1995 Geo Prizm rear

The Prizm's 1993 redesign gave it more room (resulting in an upgrade to United States Environmental Protection Agency "compact" car status), a driver's-side airbag, and a new 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine optional on LSi trim. With the larger engine came a rear stabilizer bar, wider tires, and an optional automatic transmission with four speeds instead of three. A second airbag became standard in 1994; leather seats were an option on the LSi between 1994–1997. In contrast with the Sprinter, this generation Prizm lacked a front stabilizer bar in its suspension.

Third generation[edit]

Third generation
Chevrolet Prizm LSi -- 12-14-2011.jpg
Also calledChevrolet Prizm
Model years1998–2002
Body and chassis
Body style4-door sedan
RelatedToyota Corolla (E110)
Toyota Sprinter
Engine1.8 L 1ZZ-FE (LV6) I4 (gasoline)
Transmission5-speed manual
3-speed MX1 automatic
4-speed MS7 automatic
Wheelbase97.1 in (2,466 mm)
Length174.2 in (4,425 mm)
Width66.7 in (1,694 mm)
Height53.7 in (1,364 mm)

The Prizm's 1998 redesign coincided with the conversion of all remaining Geo models into Chevrolets. The most notable change was the new 1.8-liter engine, which was now all-aluminum, driven by a timing chain (instead of a belt), and making more power (with the same fuel economy) than the engines from the Geo years. The new all-aluminum 1ZZ-FE engine powered all Corollas, Sprinters, and Prizms, making this generation lighter than its predecessor. This new engine incorporated laser-etched valve guides directly in the block, rather than the old shrink to fit valve guides in the previous Corolla motor (4A-FE & 7A-FE). This prevented oil burning and valve guide failure. The Prizm with the Corolla became the first cars in the compact class to offer optional side airbags. All 1998 Prizms without the LSi's optional handling package (containing a front stabilizer bar) were singled out by Consumer Reports for having sloppy emergency handling; Toyota addressed the problem for 1999 by making the handling package standard. For 2000, the engine gained variable valve timing for five extra horsepower (to 125). The last Prizm was built on December 13, 2001, resulting in a brief 2002 model year.

Due to decreased sales, low popularity, and being in competition with the Chevrolet Cavalier and GM's more direct competitor to the Corolla the Saturn S-series, the Prizm was replaced by the Pontiac Vibe starting in 2003. The Vibe was also made in tandem with a Toyota model, the Toyota Matrix, at the NUMMI plant.

In any generation, the Prizm's distinctions over its Toyota twin mostly came down to minor cosmetic differences, a GM Delco radio (except on first-generation cars), and the non-availability of a wagon (and the availability of a hatchback early on). The third generation Prizm also featured a Delphi air conditioning system instead of the Corolla's Denso air conditioning system.

The Prizm along with its Geo siblings suffered severe sales loss when the brand denomination changed from Geo to Chevrolet in 1998. The Geo models outsold the rebadged Chevrolets three to one.


All Prizms are powered by engines from their contemporary Toyota Corolla models:

  • 1990–1992 Geo Prizms are powered by a 4A-FE or optional 4A-GE engine
  • 1993–1997 Geo Prizms are powered by a 4A-FE or optional 7A-FE engine
  • 1998–2002 Chevy Prizms are equipped with Toyota's 1.8 L 1ZZ-FE inline-four engine; 2000–2002 models include VVT-i (variable valve timing with intelligence).


  1. ^ a b Kowalke, Ron, ed. (1999). Standard Catalog of Independents: The Struggle to Survive Among Giants. Iola, WI: Krause Publications, Inc. p. 267. ISBN 0-87341-569-8.

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