Overview & Reviews
The Pontiac Vibe began life as a Toyota Matrix twin and ended it as the answer to a trivia question: "What is the only Pontiac model to be produced for the 2010 model year?" That's right -- while all other Pontiac models went the way of the dodo after GM's 2009 bankruptcy fiasco, the Vibe stuck around for a last hurrah. It's gone now, though, and that's a real shame. Of all the compact cars that wore Pontiac badges, the Vibe was by far the best.
Smart packaging is what made this small wagon desirable, as the Vibe combined clean styling, a roomy interior and exceptional utility under one affordably priced roof. A peppy powertrain was another welcome feature. The fact that the Vibe also got above-average fuel economy and had a solid reputation for reliability only added to its appeal among budget-minded consumers.
There were two generations of the Pontiac Vibe. Both are distinctive in appearance without looking overdone and resemble a sporty four-door hatchback rather than a frumpy station wagon. The Vibe offered a lot of functionality for not a lot of money, and Toyota-sourced parts and powertrains counted as another point in its favor. Despite Pontiac's demise, the Vibe should enjoy a long life on the used-car market.
Most Recent Pontiac Vibe
Produced for 2009-'10 only, the second-generation Pontiac Vibe is the corporate twin of the Toyota Matrix. What this means for pre-owned models is that the Vibe has reliable Toyota genes and will likely provide years of dependable service. The Vibe was treated to distinct exterior styling, however, as well as its own trim levels and options.
Pontiac sold this Vibe in base, AWD and GT trim levels. Base Vibe models were front-wheel-drive only and had a 1.8-liter 132-horsepower four-cylinder engine and a torsion-beam rear suspension. AWD models had -- you guessed it -- all-wheel drive, as well as an independent rear suspension and an upgraded 2.4-liter four good for 158 hp. The sport-themed, front-wheel-drive GT had the more powerful 2.4-liter engine along with the independent rear suspension.
All models came standard with a five-speed manual transmission except for the AWD model, which could only be equipped with a four-speed automatic. A five-speed automatic was optional on the GT, while the four-speed automatic could be added to base models. Base Vibes could also be equipped with the 2.4-liter engine at extra cost, in which case the five-speed automatic replaced the four-speed on the options list.
Inside, this Vibe featured simple and intuitive gauges and controls. Build quality was good, with most of the interior bits and pieces sourced from Toyota. Thanks to the Vibe's elevated roof line, there was plenty of room for passengers. In the safety department, the Vibe came standard with antilock disc brakes, OnStar, stability control and a full complement of airbags.
In reviews, we noted that acceleration was sluggish in the base Vibe but peppy otherwise, especially in the GT, which wasn't noticeably weighed down by the all-wheel-drive system. Expect fuel economy of nearly 30 mpg or more on the highway in all models. The four-speed automatic was rather anachronistic for a new model, though the five-speed automatic was a satisfactory unit. Handling was capable in all trims and even somewhat entertaining in GT models.
Used Pontiac Vibe Models
The first-generation Pontiac Vibe was sold from 2003-'08. It was available in base and GT trim levels. Base Vibe models had a 126-hp 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine and could be equipped with either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive (AWD). Non-AWD models were equipped with either a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic transmission, both of which yielded adequate response in traffic and fuel economy in the low 30s. The AWD model was rated at 118 hp due to its different exhaust routing, and the four-speed automatic was mandatory. Acceleration was sluggish in the AWD Vibe, but it was still a useful option for buyers in harsh climates who needed a low-cost snow vehicle.
Aimed at a small niche of performance-minded consumers, the Vibe GT came with a Yamaha-designed high-revving 1.8-liter four-cylinder rated for 164 hp at a lofty 7,600 rpm. Sold in front-drive form with a six-speed manual transmission only, the GT was much quicker than the base Vibe, provided the engine was kept on boil. Ride and handling dynamics, however, were largely the same as in other Vibe models -- adequately comfortable and responsive for commuting purposes, but underwhelming from an enthusiast's perspective.
Other than the elimination of the GT and AWD models after 2007, the first-generation Pontiac Vibe received minimal changes. However, there are some equipment differences of note if you're shopping for a used one. A DVD-based navigation system was offered as an option from 2003-'05, but Pontiac discontinued it for 2006. Used-car shoppers interested in this feature will likely have difficulty locating models with it installed, as it was a rare selection when new. Also, while front seat-mounted side airbags were always optional on the first-generation Vibe, full-length side curtain airbags weren't available until the 2005 model year. That was also the first year that buyers could get stability control, but availability was limited to front-wheel-drive base Vibes equipped with the automatic transmission.
User Reviews:Showing 1 through 10 of 1,097.00
Mitch - 2003 Pontiac Vibe
By Marti Mitchell - July 26 - 2:39 pm
I just recently bought a 2003 pontaic vibe I live this car I am 51 yes old and the best car I have ever had plan to give it to my daughter as soon as she passes her drivers license test. Would like to buy another one Lakeland Florida
2003 pontiac vibe - 2003 Pontiac Vibe
By dfmlhm - December 29 - 2:00 am
automatic headlights wasnt working correctly
Does not dissapoint - 2007 Pontiac Vibe
By Roger Kirby - December 25 - 6:30 pm
I have dogs, large dogs and need to haul them around. That was the first criteria on buying the car. The dogs love it, the way it is designed they can easily hang their heads out of the window. The second was fuel economy which is good. The last reason was a car which I would find satisfying and on this score it has exceeded my expectations. Our family has a Civic, a Honda CRV and a Mustang Convertible (its a large family). This car is everyones favorite, because of its versatility. The Mustang makes a good second car, however it gets left behind for long hauls, shopping trips, taking friends out etc. The car does everything very well, without trying to the best in any one feature.
Great Car - 2010 Pontiac Vibe
By Snoop - December 15 - 2:10 pm
Great car in its segment. The redesign in 09 blows away the out of date/style (ugly) "ribbed" & rigid look of the original. The engine is peppy enough and the car is surprisingly fun to drive. Spacious interior with efficient layout. Great gas mileage & sturdy build.
Best Car Ive ever owned - 2003 Pontiac Vibe
By Kathy - December 12 - 9:56 am
I absolutely loved this car. I bought it used a little over 2 years ago. It is very spacious inside - I am 6 tall and my husband is 61" and there is plenty of room without feeling cramped. This car has been extremely reliable and awesome on gas. I averaged about 28-29 mpg, city. Put me on a highway and I was always well above 30. This car has also proved itself to be very safe and solidly built. My car was recently totaled (someone pulled out in front of us while we were going 55 mph). The damage from the crash did not go past the front door, and we all walked away unharmed. I will be replacing it with another Vibe shortly
Pontiac vibe - 2006 Pontiac Vibe
By moonstone - December 6 - 9:40 pm
This is a great driving car. Has power on interstate driving at 75 mph. Has plenty of head room, seats are ok ?
1 month - 7500 miles later - 2009 Pontiac Vibe
By Nat - December 4 - 12:23 pm
Took my Vibe (a rebadged Toyota Matrix) in its first month of ownership on a road trip across the country after taking advantage of the Clunkers program. No major issues or squeaks and rattles have arisen yet. Have only changed the oil/filter and added fuel injector cleaner so far. Was getting a fairly consistent 30 mpg of mostly highway driving with a fully loaded car, bike hitch rack, and a codriver who doesnt know how to smoothly modulate a gas pedal. Vibe has decent midrange punch with the 2.4 to pass and get up the hills. Glad I opted for the bigger engine Overall pretty happy with my purchase as the car has been both reliable and practical. For the money this car is hard to beat
Great - 2003 Pontiac Vibe
By Shellsea - December 4 - 10:00 am
I enjoy this car so much. It is very comfortable and drives excellent. No plans to get rid of it !!
Home Depot Fun Runner - 2003 Pontiac Vibe
By Rycknj - November 22 - 2:00 am
I dont have a family, but my first fixer upper home. I havent found anything yet that I cant get into it. I have the moon and tunes package which is great around town and on the road. The car is comfortable on long trips and my mileage is 29 city and 33 highway. I think thats because my average speed is 85 MPH on the highway. Love this car!
03 Vibe - 2003 Pontiac Vibe
By sskkc - November 11 - 10:00 am
With all four of us in the car, storage is minimal. If we bring along the stroller, theres almost no room for anything else, - a HUGE minus if you have a child under 18 months.