Despite the Chevrolet bow-tie emblem on the grille, Prizm comes from Japanese DNA, not American. Prizm is a kissing cousin of the Toyota Corolla, and both are built at a California plant jointly operated by the two automotive giants. Chevrolet makes minor styling changes and equips its models differently, but Prizm is a Corolla by another name. Prizm is shorter than Chevy's homegrown Cavalier, but starts at a higher base price: $13,816 vs. $13,065. Based on interior volume, Prizm is a compact and Cavalier is a subcompact.
New standard features on the base Prizm include air conditioning, a four-speaker stereo and floormats. The upscale LSi model adds power windows, a rear defogger, tachometer and tilt steering column. Both models seat five, but only the LSi comes with a standard 60/40-split folding rear seat. Chevy lists trunk capacity as 12.1 cubic feet, not including the folded rear seat.
Available only as a four-door sedan, Prizm's overall length of 174 inches is about 1 inch shorter than a Honda Civic sedan and 7 inches shorter than a Cavalier.
Under the Hood
Prizm uses the same 1.8-liter four-cylinder as the Corolla, and for 2000 it gains Toyota's variable-valve technology that boosts horsepower by five to 125. The engine meets California's Low Emission Vehicle standards. A five-speed manual transmission is standard, and three- and four-speed automatic transmissions are optional.
Side-impact airbags for the front seats are optional, an unusual feature for a small car in this price range. Anti-lock brakes also are optional, and daytime running lights are standard.
Because it is a Corolla in disguise, Prizm offers the same quality, reliability and durability. Because Prizm is not as popular as Corolla, either new or used, it has lower resale value.