null 1996 Geo Prizm
MPG 31 City / 35 Highway

Introduction

Remember the term "economy car"? It used to mean a stripped-down box with barely enough power to get out of its own way. Options included little more than a sideview mirror, floor mats and an AM radio. Well, those days are long gone. Economic realities being what they are, it's hard to find a truly inexpensive automobile these days. But those that do qualify for the economy car descriptor are surprisingly sophisticated, with dual airbags standard and antilock brakes and CD players as your options. The Geo Prizm is one very good example of how much you can get for your money these days--with careful attention to the options list. It's a car that offers at least some of the performance and handling attributes you used to expect only on a much more expensive automobile. Many customers see the Prizm as the best of both worlds. It is primarily of Japanese origin, a very close cousin to the Toyota Corolla. Both cars are produced at the NUMMI assembly plant in Fremont, California, operated as a joint venture between Toyota and General Motors. So you get the benefit of some excellent Toyota components, and if Buy American is a priority, you've got that going for you, too. There are two levels of Prizm, base and LSi, both 4-door sedans, both front-wheel drive. The differences between the two aren't really apparent unless you're in the showroom loading up your option list. If you're looking for a little more power, then the LSi will probably be your choice, with a 1.8-liter engine that offers much stronger low-rpm performance. It was our choice for this report.
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