Compact car; Built in USA
  • 4-door hatchback
  • 4-door sedan
  • transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $1,000 – $1,500*


1992 Geo Prizm GSi 4-door sedan


1990 Geo Prizm 4-door sedan


1990 Geo Prizm LSi 4-door hatchback


1990 Geo Prizm LSi interior


1990 Geo Prizm LSi 4-door hatchback interior

Pros:
  • Acceleration (GSi)
  • Fuel economy
  • Refinement
  • Ride
  • Visibility
Cons:
  • Handling (base)
  • Passenger and cargo room

A high comfort level, for the subcompact league, puts Prizms just below Honda’s Civic for all-around appeal.

Overview

Launched in February 1989 as an early ’90 model, the subcompact flagship of Chevrolet’s Geo line came in 4-door notchback or 4-door hatchback form. Prizms are similar to the Toyota Corolla. Standard engine on base Prizms, and those with the LSi option group, was a 102-horsepower, 1.6-liter 4-cylinder. Autumn 1989 brought a sporty GSi model wearing a rear spoiler and body-colored grille and bumpers, halting via 4-wheel disc brakes and propelled by a more potent version of the base engine.

Yearly Updates

1991 Prizm
A new stainless steel exhaust system and black bodyside moldings were the only changes for ’91.
1992 Prizm
Only the notchback remained after 1991, as the hatchback disappeared.

Engines

transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive

Both 4-cylinder Prizm engines are of dual-overhead-cam configuration, displacing 1.6 liters. Whereas the base engine develops 102 horsepower and 101 pound-feet of torque, the uprated GSi edition whips up 130 horsepower and 105 pound-feet. Standard transmission was a 5-speed manual, with 3-speed automatic optional on the base and LSi (4-speed for the GSi).

dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 1.6/98
Engine HP 102
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 101
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
3-speed automatic
28/33
25/29
25.1
dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 1.6/98
Engine HP 130
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 105
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
25/31
23/30

Road Test

Base-engine models actually qualify as quick with that stick shift, and the 102-horsepower engine is smooth. Three-speed automatic isn’t too sluggish either, though you’ll have to push the gas pedal hard when passing. Engine noise is only really bothersome at high speeds. Gas mileage, on the other hand, is sure to satisfy. For more vigorous motion, look for a GSi. With the more powerful engine, it moves out quickly and returns nearly the same gas mileage.

Prizms are agile and responsive in normal driving, though steering can grow twitchy. Expect plenty of body lean and little tire grip around any fast corner on the base model. Fortunately, ride quality is amazingly good as the soft suspension absorbs most bumps with ease. The GSi rounds corners with confidence, exerting little penalty on ride quality.

Space in the airy cabin is adequate, though not exactly generous. Front seats offer adequate room, but adults may balk at head/leg space in the backseat. Controls are sensibly laid out, and gauges legible, though lack of a tachometer option on first-year LSi versions is a drawback. Radios are mounted too low for easy operation. Trunk space in the 4-door is skimpy, but the 5-door has an ample cargo hold and a more convenient bumper-height opening.

Ratings

Model Tested: 1992 Geo Prizm LSi

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.

Performance

Acceleration - 4
40%
Fuel Economy - 7
70%
Ride Quality - 4
40%
Steering/Handling - 4
40%
Quietness - 3
30%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 6
60%
Room/Comfort Front - 5
50%
Room/Comfort Rear - 3
30%
Cargo Room - 3
30%

Other

Value - 6
60%

Total: 45

Specifications

4-door hatchback
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
95.7 170.7 65.2 52.3
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
32.2 13.2 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
38.3 35.5 40.9 31.6
4-door sedan
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
95.7 170.7 65.2 52.4
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
11.2 13.2 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
38.3 36.1 40.9 31.6
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 1990 Prizm 4-door sedan

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 3
60%
Front Passenger Injury - 2
40%

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
N/A0%
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A
N/A0%

HLDI

(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision 110
Injury 142
Theft 27

Trouble Spots

Cold-starting problems
Description: Cars equipped with the 1.6-liter engine may hesitate or stall on hard acceleration when cold because of a problem with the engine control computer. (1990-92)
Engine misfire
Description: GM will replace the manifold absolute pressure sensor and its wiring harness on cars that surge or buck at speeds above 45 mph. (1990)
Audio system
Description: The radio/cassette player may have been built with a capacitor installed wrong causing a key-off battery drain. (1990)

Recall History

1991
Description: Wheel lug nuts on some cars may have been torqued to lower than recommended specification, so wheel could become loose and fall off, with potential for loss of control.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.

Pricing

Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.