Pontiac launched its entry-level Vibe hatchback wagon as an early 2003 model. Styled by Pontiac, the Vibe was engineered by Toyota and is produced at New United Motor Manufacturing Inc., a Toyota/General Motors joint-venture facility in Fremont, Calif.
Like other small crossover models that are entering the automotive scene, the Vibe combines the features of a sports car, a sport wagon and a sport utility vehicle. That may sound like a lot of sport, but the Vibe leans in that direction because Pontiac has long been the sportiest member of the GM manufacturing divisions.
Front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive (AWD) versions of the Vibe are offered, in addition to a GT edition; all are aimed at youthful buyers. Because of its basic, practical configuration, cars.com places the hard-to-categorize Vibe and the related Toyota Matrix in the wagon category.
Available in a more appealing package than some GM designs of the past, the Vibes basic styling cues suggest a midsize SUV and recent Pontiac themes. There is a slight resemblance to the controversial Aztek, but the Vibe is considerably less radical. Pontiac has called the Vibes design purposeful and athletic, as well as smooth, sculpted and muscular.
The Vibes tapering side window lines are reminiscent of the Ford Focus Wagon. The distinctive roofline has an integrated roof rack thats said to create a fastback shape. Bold Pontiac-based features include a vented front fascia with a twin-port grille and recessed fog lamps. Multilayer taillights flank the rear liftgate and glass opening.
With a 102.4-inch wheelbase, the Vibe measures 171.9 inches long overall and stands 62.2 inches tall. Standard tires measure 16 inches in diameter, and the GT comes equipped with 17-inch tires.
The Vibe seats five occupants. This wagon model developed to yield a spacious interior within a compact frame. Both the front passenger seat and the 60/40-split rear seat fold flat, and that creates a level load floor. Cargo space behind the driver, with the backseat folded down, totals 54.1 cubic feet.
Chrome-trimmed gauges in the driver-oriented cockpit feature the traditional red Pontiac display. Chrome tie-downs allow for the easy transport of bicycles and other loose items. A CD player is standard, and an in-dash six-CD changer and DVD-based navigation system are offered as optional equipment.
Under the Hood
The base engine in the Vibe is a 130-horsepower, 1.8-liter four-cylinder, and it teams with a five-speed-manual or four-speed-automatic transmission. That engine produces 123 hp when the vehicle is equipped with AWD, and AWD models come with the automatic gearbox only. The Vibe GT holds a 180-hp version of the 1.8-liter power plant, and it features variable valve timing; this engine teams with a six-speed-manual transmission. Premium fuel is recommended for the GT.
Antilock brakes are standard on the AWD and GT models and offered as optional equipment for the base Vibe. The Vibe GT gets all-disc brakes, while the base model halts with a front-disc/rear-drum setup. Seat-mounted side-impact airbags are optional.