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Newest (literally) Member of the Family.

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So now that my girlfriend Jessica is up here with us, so is her car, the infamous Prizm. This also happens to be the first GM car to be in my family (we are traditionally Chrysler owners, and even though it's technically a Corolla, hey it's at least got a GM badge on it)I decided to take some pics and show everyone. Now, these pics have been taken after I've replaced a lot of the broken stuff on her car:

- HVAC knobs - 2 broken and wouldn't stay on

- Interior driver's door handle - housing broken off

- Exterior driver's door handle - handle broken clean off

- Rear view mirror - adjuster broken, wouldn't stay in place

- Driver's door Window Regulator - broken to $h!

- Clamps that hold the driver's door panel on

- Tangled rear seat belts

- Cupholder - jammed and wouldn't come out, replaced it

- Inner fenders hanging out (no idea how/why) - put them back in place

This in addition to the clutch and timing belt that was replaced over the summer, oh and welding the exhaust system back to the car after it fell off.

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Having spent plenty of time with this car, not only on the trip up but I've been driving to school lately, I thought I'd make a little review about the car, should anyone be interested in a used Prizm.

Not Quite a Rebadge Corolla

Even though at first glance they may look almost identical, save the tail lights, and they do share a lot of parts, there's actually significat, though subtle differences from it's Toyota cousin. The corner headlights, door shapes, side mirrors, bumpers, tail lights, and fenders, as well as the dash, are unique to the Prizm. My friend owns a `93 Corolla, and parked side by side you can see quite a few differences.

Of course, plenty is still shared with the Corolla, including the seats, door panels, windows, cupholders, lower dash, guages, rear-view mirror and of course the powertrain and platform the cars ride on.

Exterior Design

The little differences add up to lend the Prizm a bit more contemperary look than the Corolla, especially from the back. SInce the car has been in the mid-west all it's life, the body is naturally in great shape, with no rust and paint that is still shiny. The only exception is the dent in the passenger side fender, from her Aunt's friend, and for some reason the bumper is badly misaligned on the passenger side...not loose...just not even.

What is very interesting, is that while my friend's Corolla feels like a tin can somtimes, due to the fact that when you close it's doors and truck they close with a "tink", the Prism's doors and truck close with a reassuring "thunk"

Unlike my car, whose lights have clowded over, her's look like new and the work awesomely, illuminating the road ahead and then some.


The dash design, save the guages, is uniquw to the Prizm. In my opinion it looks much better than the Corolla, as the design is more cohesive, and it looks better integrated. The center stack is nicely designed and well integrated, butter than most cars of the day and better than some of today's cars. It's light years ahead of the Cavalier's or Neon's dash design. There is a an ergonimc glitch, as the cupholders are right below (and too close to) the stereo. In the Corolla, the stereo is on the upper part of the dash. It doesn't look as nice but functions better. From what I've heard they've gone through 2 stereos in that car from liquid damage. The gauges are simple but clear and easy to read (same can't be said for my car's gauges)

The materials of the dash are also very good and sturdy, with soft touch surfaces covering the upper dash and nicely textured plastics on the lower dash.

The rear-view mirror is mounted to the roof as oppsed to the windshield, which I like because it illiminates the chance of it coming off the windshield (the voice of experience). The rest of the interior is nearly identical to the Corolla, which means they share the same positive and negative aspects.

While most of the materials are very good, there are some cheap plastics, and in the worst places. The window cranks, and particularly the door handles are made out of cheesy, cheap, plastic, that not only looks like it'll break but it has. Both my friend's Corolla and the Prizm suffer(ed) from broken handles, though I've replaced hers. Likewise, the exterior door handles are made with plastic that is not very durable, as the driver's handle was broken right off and a chunk of the rear passenger side handle broke off...by my pinky! I always tease her that my Shadow's handles will ouyt last the rest of my door, since they are made out of very strong material (same for the cranks).


One thing I'm glad the Prizm shares with the Corolla is the Toyota built 1.6 liter I4, good for 100 horsepower and 100 pound-feet of torque (I belive this is with the 5-speed). Paired to a 5-speed manual, it feels much quicker than the numbers suggest. Of course, right now 3rd and 4rth don't work, and the tranny will need to be replaced at some pointed, but it still has plenty of power. It's very quick off the line and you can easily break the tires loose. 2nd ends up being a very tall gear, all the wya up to 30/35 mph where you then shift into 5th. It sucks sure, and saps power from the engine, not to mention it's a bitch not to have 3rd in the hilly areas known as Massachusetts, but it does fine for now. I can say that the short throw shifter is a blast to use, even with only 3 gears and reverse. The clutch is reasonably light and very responsive, especially since it's brand new. Steering is precise and well waited, and there's a good amount of feedback to boot.

It should be noted that this engine sounds great, much better than my Shadow, and considerably better than my friend's Cavalier. Unlike those two engines, it sounds very refined yet very good under full throttle..you wanna rev this thing...and I'm not tipically a fan of the way 4 bangers sound, so that's aying a lot. Interestingly, it sounds slightly different (and better) than the Corolla my friend has, despite teh fact that the powertrains are the same.

On the Road

With a good powertain, precise steering, and good brakes and pedal feel, this car is pretty damn fun to drive. It handles very well, and has no troubles going fast. Unlike my Shadow, which isn't a performance version and can really only go about 70-75 before feeling uncomfortably loose on the road, the Prism can easily do 80-90 and still feel secure. The speedo is rated for 110 mph, and she's taken it up to 100. It's a great highway cruiser as well as being fun to car up the tiwsties (Which I do everyday on my way to and from school)


So in the end it's a good handlingly, nicely styled, and, for the most part, well built car, that's grown on me a lot. I would deffintely recommend this car to anyone looking for a first car, or one with good gas milage (40+ mpg on the highway).

This is literally the newest car to join the family, and I'm quite happy Jessica owns it ^_^

Even though I'll always dog her about the door handles and regulator :P

Edited by Dodgefan

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Cool, it's got three pedals... I respect that.

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A friend of mine has a Prizm of that gen. Her's is purple and also has the 5 speed. The one thing I was impressed about was the interior. The one thing that had me wondering was the lack of tach. How do know where the redline is?! :P

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A friend of mine has a Prizm of that gen. Her's is purple and also has the 5 speed. The one thing I was impressed about was the interior. The one thing that had me wondering was the lack of tach. How do know where the redline is?! :P


I wondered te same thing! The manual has no tach but the automatic does. wtf is up with that? Still, I know the tach was an option with the manual...just not standard.

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i always thought it be really funny switching the letters of the cars name, the pr and the g :lol: just to see someone do that would make me crack up on the spot!

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Nice little review. I would agree with most of the stuff you've said about the car as my brothers first car was a 93 lsi 3spd, which got passed to my sister when he got a 93 5spd that now has 203000 miles on it. My sister concluded to wreck it twice, after which my dad fixed it. When she married, she bought a new car and sold the Geo for $900 to my bros friend. I still see it around often, but its has been wrecked again. lol Now ive got a 93 5spd as a DD and its a good car. Its got 172000 miles already but is in very good shape.

One thing that i've never seen on any of the three we've owned is the door handle problem. All our handles were/are intact, inside and out. One thing though is the door locks seem to sink in the panel pretty far, but only on like half of them. It only makes them tough to get a hold of but its not really a problem.

It really would be a great first car, as it is easy to drive. My bros 96 has a clutch with like 80000 miles on it and its been letting go for a while. I learned a standard tranny on it, even without a tach. I think that is a plus, as you learn to shift solely by feel. Anyway, about the tach, my 93 has one. It's got the 3 pod things still, Water temp and fuel are on the left side and speedo and tach in the middle and to the right. I can get a pic eventually too if I remember.

I agree, for a 1.6, when mated to a 5spd, the engine is quite peppy. I like to drive it which is saying a good deal about it. Its fun to just red line it all over. lol Oh yeah and i tried today to see where 2nd gear ends and its somewhere around 60. I was going downhill so idk. I dont know if the Prizms came with the 1.8 or not, but I know the Corolla had that option. That would be an even better option.

At heart, its still a Toyota.


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Edited by fuel_sipping

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