I purchased my 1990 Geo Prizm as a second car to commute in and out of the city. I have been so delighted by its performance, reliability and economy, that I drive it everyday and my new car sits in my driveway.
The Prizm is virtually a twin of the Toyota Corolla and has thankfully inherited the Corolla's reliabilty as well as its silky smooth 1.6 liter four cylinder engine.
The most outstanding characteristic of this little car is the smooth ride. The Prizm glides over potholes and road irregularities without transferring any harshness to the passenger compartment. The penalty for this smooth ride is felt in the handling department though. The Prizm is not a corner charger, it is much happier going straight than cornering. The compromise in handling prowess is welcome however in most real world driving situations. The handling is adequate, however if you want to go fast through the curves look at a Miata. But try putting a family and a weekend's worth of luggage in the Miata.
I am delighted with the power and fuel economy that the 1.6 liter 16 valve engine provides. Mated with the 5 speed transmission, the Prizm is a fun little car to drive, and returns 25-30 mpg in the bargain.
I am still amazed at the high quality of the fit and finish of this nearly 14 year-old vehicle. Save for a sagging headliner (which I repaired), the interior shows no signs of wear. It is a warm and comfortable environment for my daily commute. With the exception of low speed on the four speed heater blower fan, everything still works.
The exterior fit and finish is also excellent. The original paint still glossy, and the body still rust-free.
A concern is that GM seems to have abandoned the Geo owner, as the replacement switch has been discontinued. Leaving me to wonder what I will do if the other speeds go too. (Perhaps the switch from a Corolla will fit).
The only other problem with my Prizm is that the rear speakers were blown when I purchased it. I have since replaced them with new Pioneers, and the original factory stereo sounds great.
Having owned a number of small cars both Domestic and Imported, and having recently owned a new Pontiac Sunfire, I am convinced that the Prizm/Corolla was one of the finest subcompact vehicles offered at the time. In fact I prefer the Prizm over my previous 2002 Pontiac Sunfire. Even though the Prizm is a much older design, I believe it is much more refined and better built. I would say that the Prizm was one of the best subcompacts ever offered by GM.
I only wish that GM would continue manufacturing parts for this vehicle, so that I may enjoy it for many years to come.