Chevrolet Corsica


The Chevrolet Corsica was introduced in March 1987 as an early 1988 model. It replaced the Chevrolet Citation as Chevy's high-volume compact car and was accompanied by a two-door coupe version called the Chevrolet Beretta.

The Chevrolet Corsica and Chevrolet Beretta shared a mechanical structure, rather elemental chassis design, and basic four- and six-cylinder powertrains. Both also replaced the Chevrolet Citation's squared-up lines with trendier jelly-bean styling.

Chevrolet Corsica Image Gallery

Chevrolet's 1988 Corsica compact had quietly handsome good looks and pretty good performance.
Chevrolet's 1988 Corsica compact had handsome
good looks and pretty good performance.
See more pictures of the Chevrolet Corsica.

And as you'll see in this article, Corsica, like Beretta, strayed from Chevy's compact-car mainstream to dabble in the other hot-button craze of the day: European sport-sedan flavor.

The 1989 Chevrolet Corsica LTZ model came with a V-6, tauter "sport" suspension, alloy wheels, tachometer, and minor styling alterations that to Chevy, spoke of European sophistication.

The division also looked to continental sensibilities by adding to the 1989 Chevrolet Corsica sedan a hatchback body style. To the stylists' credit, the hatchback didn't look much different from the sedan, but did furnish a more versatile approach to utility.

Utility, despite Corsica's sporty aspirations, really was this car's guiding principal through the end of its run, in model year 1996. It was a long life, too long really, given the quicker pace of change among Chevy's import-brand rivals.

But through it all, Corsica was a true Chevrolet, offering a bit of style, occasional flair, decent cabin room, and prices that put it within reach of most any American.

The 1990 Corsica's sleek interiors didn't keep sales from dropping.
The 1990 Corsica's sleek interiors
didn't keep sales from dropping.
The Chevrolet Corsica helped take Chevy's compact sedan into a new age of aero styling and sporty Euro-inspired cues, a transition laid out in this nicely illustrated article.

Its story starts on the next page.

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1988 Chevrolet Corsica

1988 Chevrolet Corsica sedan
The 1988 Corsica's powertrains were unrefined
compared to its Japanese competition's.

The 1988 Corsica arrived in Chevy showrooms in the spring of 1987 as an early 1988 model (a late-1986 launch put the initial batch of Corsicas into rental fleets).

That fall, when most 1988 models debuted, the Corsica received some minor updates, such as making an AM/FM stereo radio with digital clock standard, giving V-6 models larger stabilizer bars, and adding an upshift light to cars equipped with the V-6 and five-speed manual transmission.

Otherwise, the Corsica remained as before, with a standard 2.0-liter four making 90 horsepower and an optional 2.8-liter V-6 offering up 130 horses. Both came standard with a five-speed manual transmission, offering a three-speed automatic as an option.

Corsica shared its platform and powertrains with Chevy's two-door Beretta, but the two shared little sheetmetal. The same basic platform was also used for the Buick Skylark, Oldsmobile Achieva, and Pontiac Grand Am, but suspensions and powertrains differed from Chevrolet's versions, as did styling.

Base price by that time was $9,555, but a well-equipped Corsica with V-6, automatic, air, power windows and locks, and other amenities stickered for about $13,500 -- quite a bit less than Japanese rivals.

Sales for the 1988 model year totaled over 291,000, and though that "model year" lasted almost a year and a half, it was nonetheless an impressive debut showing.

The 1988 Corsica saw strong sales in its first model year.
The 1988 Corsica saw strong sales
in its first model year.

1988 Chevrolet Corsica Facts

Model

Weight range (lbs.)

Price range (new)

Number built

Corsica

2,589-2,688

$9,555-$10,215

291,163


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1989 Chevrolet Corsica

1989 Chevrolet Corsica standard model
The 1989 Corsica sedan carried on with few changes
from the previous model year.

New for the 1989 Chevrolet Corsica was a five-door hatchback body style to join the existing four-door notchback sedan. The former came with a folding rear seatback that could expand the cargo area to a roomy 39 cubic feet, over 25 more than was available in the sedan.

Marked only by a slightly thicker rear roof pillar and "fastback" rear window, one had to look twice to differentiate the hatchback from the normal sedan. Such was not the case when it came to sales, however.

Though the new hatchback was introduced a few months after the 1989 sedan debuted, the latter outsold it by a phenomenal margin -- nearly eight to one. Price had something to do with it; at $10,375, the five-door cost nearly $400 more than a four-door.

Furthermore, Chevy introduced the new body style just as demand for hatchbacks was waning, their obvious advantages in utility being hurt by an "econocar" image.

Also new to the Corsica line was a ritzier LTZ notchback. Carrying equipment similar to its two-door Beretta GT stablemate, the LTZ came with sport suspension, 15-inch alloy wheels, a split/folding rear seat, gauge package with tachometer, and sportier interior appointments.

It also carried the 130-horsepower 2.8-liter V-6 as standard, which was optional on other models in place of a 90-horsepower 2.0-liter four.

The top-of-the-line 1989 Corsica LTZ included a 130-horsepower 2.8-liter V-6 as standard.
The top-of-the-line 1989 Corsica LTZ included a
130-horsepower 2.8-liter V-6 as standard.

1989 Chevrolet Corsica Facts

Model Weight range (lbs.) Price range (new) Number built
Corsica 2,595-2,690 $9,985-$12,825 231,157

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1990 Chevrolet Corsica

1990 Chevrolet Corsica
More standard features and a bit more muscle
marked Corsica for 1990.

The 1990 Chevrolet Corsica was dressed up with a higher level of standard equipment and larger engines. Both notchback and hatchback body styles were again offered, but base models were renamed LT and outfitted with features from the previous year's LT options package.

That included gloss-black exterior trim and fancier interior door panels with cloth inserts. The sporty LTZ added standard reclining front bucket seats with four-way headrests and adjustable lumbar supports.

Underhood, the base 2.0-liter four was supplanted by a larger 2.2-liter version. Horsepower jumped from 90 to 98, while torque went from 108 pound-feet to 120.

The V-6, which was standard on the LTZ and optional on the LT, was also enlarged, from 2.8 liters to 3.1. Horsepower rose from 130 to 135, while torque was up from 160 pound-feet to 180.

Once again, both came with either a five-speed manual transmission or three-speed automatic.

Despite the fact that the 1990 LT cost less than the 1989 base model -- and added more equipment -- Corsica sales dropped again, to 194,521. But it was a slower year for car sales in general, and when that figure was combined with those of the two-door Beretta, the pair came in a close third behind their sibling Cavalier in industry rankings.

1990 Chevrolet Corsica LT
The 1990 Corsica base LT model benefited from the line's
upgraded standard equipment.

1990 Chevrolet Corsica Facts

Model

Weight range (lbs.)

Price range (new)

Number built

Corsica

2,491-2,609

$9,495-$12,795

306,807 (Corsica and Beretta combined production)

For more picture-packed articles about Chevys and other great cars, see:

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1991, 1992 Chevrolet Corsica

1991 Chevrolet Corsica
Upgrades were few for the 1991 Corsica
after a year of weak sales.

The 1991 Chevrolet Corsica received a driver-side air bag and restyled dash for 1991 but also lost its sporty LTZ variant. That left the LT as the only trim level, again offered as a four-door sedan or five-door hatchback.

To offset the loss of the LTZ, a Z52 performance package that included a Level III sport suspension, 205/60R-15 tires on alloy wheels, and sport steering wheel was added as an option for both body styles.

Standard engine was again a 95-horsepower 2.2-liter four, with a 140-horsepower 3.1-liter V-6 optional. On either engine, a five-speed manual transmission was standard and a three-speed automatic was optional.

For 1992, Chevy's compact Corsica gained anti-lock brakes as standard equipment, but it lost its slow-selling hatchback variant. That left the lone four-door sedan in but one LT trim level, though the Z52 Sport Handling Package was still available to spruce it up.

The base 2.2-liter four gained 15 horsepower, now 110, while the optional 3.1-liter V-6 still made 140 horsepower. The V-6 now came only with automatic, and got a more fuel-efficient 2.53:1 axle ratio to replace a 2.84.

Prices were up almost $900 from a year earlier, but that included the new anti-lock brakes. One could still get a well-equipped Corsica with driver-side air bag, ABS, V-6, automatic, air conditioning, power windows and locks, and other amenities, for about $14,000.

1992 Chevrolet Corsica
The 1992 Corsica's new features included anti-lock brakes.

1991 Chevrolet Corsica Facts

Model

Weight range (lbs.)

Price range (new)

Number built

Corsica

2,638-2,706

$10,070-$10,745

197,284 (Corsica and Beretta combined production for 1991 and 1992)

1992 Chevrolet Corsica Facts

Model

Weight (lbs.)

Price (new)

Number built

Corsica

2,638

$10,999

197,284 (Corsica and Beretta combined production for 1991 and 1992)

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1993 Chevrolet Corsica

1993 Chevrolet Corsica
The Corsica was altered only slightly for 1993 and carried on
with just one body style and trim level.

The 1993 Chevrolet Corsica was a virtual repeat of the 1992 model year, bowing with only minor changes -- none of them visual.

A shift interlock was added to models with automatic transmission, which prevented shifting out of Park unless the driver's foot was on the brake. All Corsicas also got a low-oil-level warning light this year.

Otherwise, it was business as usual. The lone LT trim level came standard with a 110-horsepower 2.2-liter four-cylinder engine, with a 140-horsepower 3.1-liter V-6 optional. Both utilized port fuel injection and came standard with a five-speed manual transmission, offering a three-speed automatic as an option.

Available on V-6-equipped Corsicas was the Z52 sport Handling Package, which added alloy wheels with 205/60R16 tires (in place of standard 185/75R14), a sport steering wheel, sport suspension, and body-side moldings with red inserts.

Prices were up by about $400 (base price now $11,395), but the Corsica remained a good value, being one of the few sedans in its class to offer a driver-side air bag, anti-lock brakes, and available V-6 power.

1993 Chevrolet Corsica
A fully equipped 1993 Corsica listed for less than $16,000,
undercutting most comparable imports.

1993 Chevrolet Corsica Facts

Model

Weight (lbs.)

Price (new)

Number built

Corsica

2,665

$11,395

189,741 (Corsica and Beretta combined production)

For more picture-packed articles about Chevys and other great cars, see:

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  • Sports Cars: Discover the pleasure of sports motoring at its purest in these captivating articles on the best sports cars from around the world.
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  • Consumer Guide Used Car Search: In the market for a used Chevy or virtually any other pre-owned vehicle? Check out these reports, which include safety recalls and trouble spots.

1994, 1995, 1996 Chevrolet Corsica

1994 Chevrolet Corsica
The 1994 Corsica added standard air conditioning with
CFC-free refrigerant.

The 1994 Chevrolet Corsica looked little different than in past years, but it did receive some notable revisions. Air conditioning was made standard, and it now used CFC-free refrigerant. The standard automatic door locks activated when the car was put in motion and unlocked when the engine was shut off. (The unlocking function could be disabled by removing a fuse, at which point the doors had to be unlocked by sliding a switch.)

Manual front seat belts were replaced by manual lap belts and door-mounted shoulder belts that could be left buckled to automatically deploy when the doors were closed.

Corsica came in one trim level, with a standard 2.2-liter four-cylinder engine that now produced 120 horsepower, up from 110. The previously standard five-speed manual was dropped, making a three-speed automatic the only transmission offered with the four.

Optional again was a 3.1-liter V-6, but it not only got a boost in power, growing from 140 to 160 horses, but also a new four-speed automatic transmission.

Changes for the 1995 Chevrolet Corsica were few. Daytime running lights were adopted, which were overridden when the regular headlights were turned on. The four-speed automatic was filled with fluid that was supposed to last 100,000 miles under normal driving conditions, and the standard tires were upgraded from 185/75R14s to 195/70R14s, now the only size available.

The Corsica was a virtual rerun for 1996, its final season. Along with the Beretta (also due to bow out), the pair had enjoyed a relatively prosperous life, running more than nine years with few changes.

And that's what eventually doomed them. Lacking dual air bags and carrying the same styling year after year, they were over­taken not only by their many natural rivals but by their own showroom siblings as well.

1995 Chevrolet Corsica
The Corsica picked up daytime running lights for 1995.

1994 Chevrolet Corsica Facts

Model

Weight (lbs.)

Price (new)

Number built

Corsica

2,665

$13,145

208,380 (Corsica and Beretta combined production)


1995 Chevrolet Corsica Facts

Model

Weight (lbs.)

Price (new)

Number built

Corsica

2,745

$13,890

NA


1996 Chevrolet Corsica Facts

Model

Weight (lbs.)

Price (new)

Number built

Corsica

2,745

$14,385

NA

For more picture-packed articles about Chevys and other great cars, see:

  • Classic Cars: Learn about more than 400 of the world's finest classic and collectible automobiles.
  • Muscle Cars: Look back at tire-smoking Chevys and scores of other machines from the golden age of American high performance.
  • Sports Cars: Discover the pleasure of sports motoring at its purest in these captivating articles on the best sports cars from around the world.
  • Consumer Guide Automotive: Here's your source for news, reviews, prices, fuel-economy and safety information on today's cars, minivans, SUVs, and pickups.
  • Consumer Guide Used Car Search: In the market for a used Chevy or virtually any other pre-owned vehicle? Check out these reports, which include safety recalls and trouble spots.