1999 Chevrolet Prizm

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$12,393

starting MSRP

1999 Chevrolet Prizm

Key specs

Base trim shown

Overview

2 trims

Starting msrp listed lowest to highest price

Wondering which trim is right for you?

Our 1999 Chevrolet Prizm trim comparison will help you decide.

1999 Chevrolet Prizm review: Our expert's take

By

The verdict:

Versus the competiton:

One way to get a fix on what’s happening in the world of small sedans is to look through a Prizm — a Chevrolet Prizm.

What we see is a car that feels like a scaled-down version of a mid-size sedan, boasts good fit and finish and provides a lot value for the money.

This compact sedan shares both its basic structure and mechanical components with the Toyota Corolla. Both are produced in the Fremont, Calif., plant that is a joint operation between General Motors and Toyota.

Prizms are available in two models, and our test car was the upscale LSi whose standard equipment includes air conditioning, power door locks, power mirrors, power windows, AM/FM stereo cassette and a 60/40 folding rear seat.

Driving the front wheels is a 1.8-liter, 120 horsepower, 4-cylinder engine that has four valves per cylinder and dual overhead cams. This new all-aluminum engine performs with the vigor of a larger engine, even when mated to the optional four-speed automatic transmission.

It weighs 64 pounds less than the previous 1.8-liter, uses a serpentine belt to drive accessories and has excellent throttle response because it has been tuned to supply its torque, or pulling power, at fairly low engine speeds. Mileage is about 10 percent better, too.

This engine is devoid of bothersome noise and vibration; so much so, in fact, that on cool mornings the whine of the transmission was the loudest thing I heard for the first few miles.

To improve this engine’s exhaust emissions, it has been repositioned in the vehicle so the exhaust manifold sits closer to the catalytic converter. A fast-warming converter reduces emissions and enables the Prizm to meet California’s tough Low Emission Vehicle (LEV) standard.

Like its Corolla cousin, the Prizm rides on a 97-inch wheelbase and has an overall length of 174.3 inches, which puts it in the same category as the Honda Civic, Mazda Protege and Nissan Sentra.

Standard safety features include dual front airbags, three-point safety belts for all passengers, including the one in the center of the rear seat. All belts have pretensioners and force-limiters to improve their effectiveness.

Side airbags ($295) and four-wheel anti-lock brakes ($645) are both optional, and our test was equipped with both.

Sound-absorbing foam and asphalt panels located strategically throughout the body cut down on the amount of wind, road and engine noise that finds its way into the passenger compartment. Special seat foam and a special alloy in the steering column isolate the driver from unwanted vibration.

The instrument panel has large gauges and switches that glide with a satisfying smoothness. Cupholders and storage nooks are plentiful.

While the Prizm and Corolla share basic body dimensions, the Prizm’s styling is more lively and youthful.

Competing effectively in the small car segment requires a serious commitment, and it looks like Chevrolet has made one with the Pri zm.

Price: The base price of our test car was $14,839. Options included side airbags, electric sunroof, anti-lock brakes, alloy wheels, 4-speed automatic transmission and the LSi package. The sticker price was $18,914.

Warranty: Three years or 36,000 miles.

Point: The Prizm is a tight, well-built small sedan with an efficient and responsive 4-cylinder engine that sips gas. There is space for four (five in a pinch) and a good-sized trunk.

Counterpoint: A transmission that whined when cold was my only gripe.

SPECIFICATIONS:
ENGINE: 1.8-liter, 4-cyl.
TRANSMISSION: automatic
CONFIGURATION: Front-engine, front-wheel drive
WHEELBASE: 97 inches
CURB WEIGHT: 2,403 lbs.
BASE PRICE: $14,839
PRICE AS DRIVEN: $18,914
MPG RATING: 28 city, 36 hwy.

Consumer reviews

Rating breakdown (out of 5):
  • Comfort 3.9
  • Interior design 3.8
  • Performance 4.1
  • Value for the money 5.0
  • Exterior styling 4.2
  • Reliability 4.7

Most recent consumer reviews

4.3

Extremely Reliable

I just bought this car at the end of 2018. The interior was messed up and handles have to be replaced but the car only had 103972 original miles. It runs great and is reliable. I was not looking at it because I wanted a newer year however it was the only car on lot without a service engine. Best choice I’ve made. It is a great car and no rust for a vehicle that is 20 years old. It currently has 104288 miles. I paid a little more than blue book but it has been great. Absolutely recommend this vehicle as a first car for young drivers. It handles well and doesn’t give much issues.

5.0

Faithful Companion

I bought this car used in July of 2013 with 209k miles on it. The miles had me leary, but I needed a car for work. At the time I looked at it, I wasnt too enthused. The car next to it was a shiny red 2000 ford focus, and I loved the color (as compared to silver with a gold underhue). But the focus was a standard, and my knee wouldn't handle the shifting. Plus, it was close to $1500 more in price. Not expecting much, I drove the Prizm. And fell in love. Oh, my gosh. I bought the car on the spot and started calling it my mini rocket. This thing will absolutely launch off the line. So nimble. I can turn on a dime, and the steering is almost telepathic. If you even think about turning, that's where youre going. I love it. Plus, living in Iowa, we can get a ton of ice and snow. This little car xxxxxxthrough it better than the 4 wheel drives everyone around here insists you have to have in the winter. Sometimes, I can't help but laugh driving past as people are digging out a mighty 4 wheel drive truck (They're not stranded. Several people stop to help pull them out.) 4 years later, it is still going strong with 230k miles and (sadly), a good deal of rust on the back fenders (it's out in the weather 24/7). We've replaced the factory fuel pump. An ancient battery. Rear drums/breaks. The left rear strut. Next on the list is front brakes and right rear strut. The front door handles broke (I just roll down the Windows and exit by popping the exterior latch), which is a nuisance but dealable. My biggest complaint is the sheer amount of oil the engine burns. I cant run above 60 mph for any length of time without checking the oil levels. Beyond that, though, everything is great. I can get up to 43 mpg on the highway, and average about 35 mpg mostly city driving. What can I say beyond all that? I seriously love my car, and wish I could get a brand new copy of it unaltered (old Corolla might be next on my list. Something with a geared transmission and not a CVT.)

3.7

Prizm gets me to work

Bought this car from a friends sister real cheap when I needed a vehicle. It has suffered sun damage, and the cloth on the ceiling is falling, but otherwise the car seems to be doing pretty decent for its age.

See all 11 consumer reviews

Warranty

New car and Certified Pre-Owned programs by Chevrolet
Certified Pre-Owned program benefits
Maximum age/mileage
5 model years or newer/up to 75,000 miles
Basic warranty terms
12 months/12,000 miles bumper-to-bumper original warranty, then may continue to 6 years/100,000 miles limited (depending on variables)
Powertrain
6 years/100,000 miles
Dealer certification required
172-point inspection
Roadside assistance
Yes
View all cpo program details

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