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2009 Pontiac Vibe All Wheel Drive Bookmark

The Good :)   Small car with smart looks with good cargo room.  All wheel drive. Stability control.

The Bad :(   Low quality of some interior parts. Poor gas mileage.  Narrow body.  

Engine 4Cyl 2.4 Liter

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Output 158 hp   @ 6000 rpm
162 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm
Top Speed 120 mph
0-60 mph 9 sec (est.)
Weight 3,200 lbs
Price As Tested $22,615


Pontiac is trying to make more innovative, striking, and gas conscious vehicles now at a time when most car makers are feeling the bite of a USA without much money.  Built in california at the United Manufacturing plant that GM and Toyota have together, the Vibe is a cousin of the Toyota Matrix and it is built together on the same production line as the Toyota.  With the same mechanicals and a slightly different look how can GM and Toyota share the same car when they are both portrayed as trying to kill one another in the automotive world?  And the more important question is that if GM is controlled by Big Oil, is Toyota as well?

Vibe’s three models - base, AWD and GT - are distinguished from one another with unique styling cues. For example, the AWD features a standard roof rack perfect for outdoor activities. The GT has its own front fascia - with larger fog lamps and lower-fascia air intake - rocker moldings, roof spoiler and a bright exhaust tip for a more sporty look.  All models offer distinctive wheel options

“With the 2009 Vibe, we knew we wanted to take everything we liked about the original and push it to the next level - more power, more style, more versatility,” said Craig Bierley, Pontiac marketing director. “It has the interior room and cargo capability expected of a larger SUV, but with the precise handling characteristics you would expect from any Pontiac.”
   
On the exterior pontiac has styled a smooth and compact vehicle.  The Vibe has a smooth and rounded front end with a single piece bumper without many lines or clutter.  Headlamps wrap along the outer edges nicely and the signature pontiac grille is surrounded with chrome touches.  Fog lamps also have a touch of chrome making for a high end appearance.  The deeply raked front windshield looks quite nice however we would have liked to see the windshield wipers hidden more under the front hood.  From the side profile the Vibe shows that it is well rounded while being small.  The front end seems overly large as compared to the rear end where the body flows downward a bit too fast we think.  The large distance from the front wheel arch to the top of the front hood looks strange and raises the entire front end of the Vibe too much as compared to the tail end.

Smoothness abounds on the side panels where aerodynamic lines at the bottom of each door gives the Vibe a sporty look.  We thought that the 17 inch wheels looked rather small on the Vibe and perhaps this was due to the large wheel gap on our All Wheel Drive model.  Windows are angled sharply with a small triangular rear 3rd quarter window adding some style. 

At the rear the Vibe is quite tall having clear tail lamps with circular tail lamps inside a clear lens covering.  The rear valence is smooth and flowing which matches the overall feel of the Vibe.  We thought the rear window was rather small as compared to the entire vehicle which gave the Vibe a strange ‘pinto’ like feel. 

On the inside the Vibe feels quite narrow and has a very modern yet cluttered appearance to its design scheme.  The dashboard seems to enter the cabin more than necessary and the doors try to wrap the dash around to the sides in a modern way yet something feels wrong.  Perhaps it is the use of a web like plastic on the upper dash combines with that same material on the tops of each door along with the heavy use of silver plastic and smooth black plastic trim parts.  Pontiac forgot to cover the roof and front pillars with something warm and cozy such as fabric rather than the old fuzzy stuff.  Overall we thought the interior felt cheap and was not designed to be pleasing to the eye. 

The air vents are a example of ugly design.  They are large and when open, which is 90% of the time, they look like large gaping holes in the dash.  Adding a little bit of chrome was helpful but too little too late.   The arm rest is inadequate and very cheap, something adjustable in nature and with a more solid feeling would be much nicer.  Bulbous plastic parts and a large steering wheel which has a bulge in the center just did not look good for us day in and out.  It made you feel like you were driving a bloated vehicle.  Something that seems to flow from the large front end on the outside into the drivers seat. 

The Radio sits high for easy use along with ventilation controls which are also high up on the dash.  This is then followed by a gear shift lever that is part of the front console.  Having left open the area in between the front seats, the Vibe offers storage areas which come with a removable plastic divider so you can change the exact size of each storage area hole.  The instrument cluster is modern and follows in the practice of recent GM vehicles having a periscope appearance with deeply set dials.  It looks much better when the car has something to look at in the instrument cluster for the passenger and other persons seated.  With these deeply set gauges, passengers cannot see anything.

The steering wheel is nicely wrapped in leather however it seems bulbous in nature just like the Vibe.  It is also quite small.  Seats are small in front and are situated high especially at the passenger seating position.  They offer little lateral support in the bottom cushion.  They also do not slide back as much as we would like them to.  The sunroof is operated with two buttons for opening and for tilting.  Things are quite basic in the Vibe and better ergonomics can be found in a VW. 

The rear seats are quite flat and hard, making long trips uncomfortable for those with only 2 legs.  The smaller windows here makes for a cosy feeling however.  Designers made grab handles in the doors but they cannot be used when you are sitting in the car. they are only to grab the door and shut it.  When making a sporty compact car we think that designers should have thought more thoughtfully.

The overly plastic feeling in back is just too much.  Seats are styles with a fabric of white dotted material in the center with flat black hard material on the sides and that is all the variation you get in the Vibe.

Versatility is quite nice in back with room for 2 easily and deep seat bottoms for good support.  The seats when folded down make a large hard lined cargo area.  This comes in quite useful when you need room for all your fun gear.  Rubberized cargo floor strips help prevent items from sliding.  A rear cargo compartment storage organizer is standard on all models equipped with a 2.4L engine (optional with the 1.8L engine) and provides an almost unlimited number of cargo solutions, thanks to a multitude of hooks and net-divided compartments. It also conveniently folds into the floor when not in use. Vibes equipped with the 2.4L engine also come with a fold-flat front passenger seat that expands the interior’s storage versatility - for times when you need to haul a ladder, small kayak or other long items.

The stereo system offers XM satellite radio and a audio jack for easy playback of any device.  The optional system in our car has 7 speakers and a 320 watt monsoon amplifier and subwoofer.  Also located into the vehicle is a regular electrical jack so you can plug almost anything to this car and recharge. 

Two new Toyota engines are available in the Vibe.  The 2.4 liter four cylinder engine makes 158 horsepower and 162 pounds of torque at 4000 rpm.  A four-speed automatic transmission is standard on the AWD model we tested.  Customers choosing the base or GT models can choose between a standard five-speed manual transmission or a new, five-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission featuring Driver Shift Control (DSC), which delivers a great combination of performance, fuel economy and smoothness.  With DSC, the driver can manually select gears via tap up/tap down controls.  The gas mileage on our all wheel drive version is quite low. We would not recommend it even if you live in northern climates.  We averaged about 21 miles per gallon and this was amazingly low for the small size of this car, some V8’s in a very large sedan get 22 mpg.  GM sure knows how to keep the mileage low doesn't it. 

The suspension is a front independent setup with a rear torsion beam design.  Road feel is lacking a bit and the Vibe does feel strange doing down a straight road due to its suspension. Steering response is good however and there is good sound insulation.  What is lacking is that feeling that you are in a sports car or even a small car.  A bit too much body sway adds to this feeling.  Rear end slip is evident but controlled by the traction control.  We would like the Vibe to be wider and not as tall therefore giving more of a sports car feeling. 

The Vibe offers a good amount of safety features.  Anti lock brakes with electronic brake assist are standard.  Tire pressure monitors are standard on all cars now starting this year and the Vibe has them as well.  Dual stage front, side, and available head curtain side impact airbags are offered.  Onstar is also offered with its host of safety services.      

Our Vibe starts off at $18,910.  The sun and sound package with sunroof and AM&FM stereo cd player with MP3 format & auxiliary input.  It also includes a leather wrapped steering wheel and shift knob.  All this is going to cost $1,285.  The preferred package costs $1,070 which includes a remote keyless entry system, power door locks, power windows, cruise control, and variable intermittent wipers.  Chrome clad wheels in 17 inch size cost $650.  Fog lamps are $115.  A destination charge of $585 brings our total to $22,030.  About 61% of parts come from the US or Canada.  39% of the parts come from Japan.  The final assembly point is Fremont, California.  The engine and transmission come from Japan and are made by Toyota. 

The Vibe offers a better warranty and has better equipment than the Matrix and is therefore a better buy.  More incentives also give you a good reason to come to a American make.  The dealer experience and resale value may be the key point in deciding whether to go with a Toyota or a Pontiac.  We think that most buyers will not like the overall design of the Vibe.  Hopefully GM will make a better designed small car in their next version.  Sharing cars with Toyota is not a good idea.
  


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PRICING

INVOICE

RETAIL

Base Pricing

$17,965

$18,910

Sun and Sound Package

$1,131

$1,285

Preferred Package  

$942  

$1,070

17" Chrome-Cladded Aluminum Wheels

$572

$650

ULA   AM/FM Stereo w/CD Player and MP3 Playback

$132

$150

 

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COMPARISONS 2009 Pontiac Vibe
4dr Wagon AWD (2.4L 4cyl 4A)
2008 Dodge Caliber
R/T 4dr Wagon AWD (2.4L 4cyl CVT)
2008 Volkswagen GTI
4dr Hatchback N/A 05/08 (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6M)
2008 Suzuki SX4
4dr Wagon AWD w/Touring Package (2.0L 4cyl 4A)
2008 Saturn Astra
XR 4dr Hatchback (1.8L 4cyl 5M)
Pricing Vibe Caliber GTI SX4 Astra
MSRP $18,910 $20,495 $23,300 $17,970 $17,425
Invoice $17,965 $19,110 $21,721 $17,251 $16,292
Basic 3 yr. / 36000 mi. 3 yr. / 36000 mi. 4 yr. / 50000 mi. 3 yr. / 36000 mi. 3 yr. / 36000 mi.
Drivetrain 5 yr. / 100000 mi. Unlimited yr. / Unlimited mi.
5 yr. / 60000 mi. 7 yr. / 100000 mi. 5 yr. / 100000 mi.
Roadside 5 yr. / 100000 mi. 3 yr. / 36000 mi. 4 yr. / 50000 mi. 3 yr. / 36000 mi. 5 yr. / 100000 mi.
Rust 6 yr. / 100000 mi. 5 yr. / 100000 mi. 12 yr. / Unlimited mi. 3 yr. / Unlimited mi. 6 yr. / 100000 mi.
Base Engine Displacement 2.4 liters 2.4 liters 2.0 liters 2.0 liters 1.8 liters
Horsepower 158 hp @ 6000 rpm 173 hp @ 6000 rpm 200 hp @ 5100 rpm 143 hp @ 5800 rpm 138 hp @ 6300 rpm
Torque 162 ft-lbs. @ 4000 rpm 166 ft-lbs. @ 4400 rpm 207 ft-lbs. @ 1800 rpm 136 ft-lbs. @ 3500 rpm 125 ft-lbs. @ 3800 rpm
4 Speed Automatic Standard

Standard Optional
5 Speed Manual



Standard
6 Speed Manual

Standard

Driven Wheels all wheel drive all wheel drive front wheel drive all wheel drive front wheel drive
Passenger Seat Height Adjustable Not Available Not Available Standard Not Available Not Available
Power Steering power steering power steering electric speed-proportional power steering power steering speed-proportional power steering
Traction Control Not Available Not Available Standard Standard Optional
Stability Control Standard Optional Standard Standard Optional
Xenon Headlights Not Available Not Available Standard Not Available Not Available
Navigation System Not Available DVD navigation system - Optional DVD navigation system - Optional Not Available Not Available
Satellite Communications System OnStar Not Available Not Available Not Available OnStar
SPECS
Turning Circle 35.3 ft. 37.2 ft. 35.8 ft. 35.4 ft. 34.4 ft.
City 20 mpg. 21 mpg. 21 mpg. 22 mpg. Being Researched
Highway 26 mpg. 24 mpg. 29 mpg. 30 mpg. Being Researched
Length 171.1 in. 173.8 in. 165.8 in. 162.8 in. 170.5 in.
Width 69.5 in. 68.8 in. 69.3 in. 69.1 in. 69 in.
Height 62.8 in. 60.4 in. 58.4 in. 63.2 in. 57.4 in.
Weight 3295 lbs. 3308 lbs. 3162 lbs. 2932 lbs. 2921 lbs.
Wheel Base 102.4 in. 103.7 in. 101.5 in. 98.4 in. 102.9 in.
Interior Vibe Caliber GTI SX4 Astra
Front Headroom 40.5 in. 39.8 in. 39.3 in. 39.6 in. 38.9 in.
Rear Headroom 39.4 in. 38.9 in. 38.5 in. 37.6 in. 38.3 in.
Front Shoulder Room 53.3 in. 54.2 in. 54.8 in. 53.3 in. 53.9 in.
Rear Shoulder Room 52.6 in. 53.4 in. 53.1 in. 52.8 in. 52.8 in.
Front Hip Room 52.3 in. 52.2 in. Not Published 51 in. 51.8 in.
Rear Hip Room 43.7 in. 49.6 in. Not Published 47 in. 51.4 in.
Front Leg Room 41.6 in. 41.8 in. 41.2 in. 41.4 in. 42 in.
Rear Leg Room 36.2 in. 35.7 in. 35.3 in. 35.9 in. 35.3 in.
Maximum Luggage Capacity 20.1 cu. ft. 18.5 cu. ft. 14.7 cu. ft. 16 cu. ft. 12.2 cu. ft.

 

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