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.
Aimed at youthful buyers, the Vibe is available in front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive versions, as well as a GT edition. Because of its basic, practical configuration, cars.com classifies the hard-to-categorize Vibe and the related Toyota Matrix as a wagon.
XM Satellite Radio is available in 2004 models, which can be painted Fusion Orange and equipped with 17-inch tires. For extra performance, an accessory supercharger is available for the base model.
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 companys 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 that the automaker says creates 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, but the base and GT models may be equipped with 17-inch tires.
The Vibe seats five people. This model was 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. When the backseat is folded down, cargo space behind the driver 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 a DVD-based navigation system are offered as optional equipment.
Under the Hood
The base 130-horsepower, 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine teams with a four-speed-automatic or five-speed-manual transmission. That engine produces 123 hp when the vehicle is equipped with all-wheel drive; these models come only with the automatic gearbox. The Vibe GT holds a 173-hp version of the 1.8-liter engine, which 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 all-wheel-drive and GT models and are offered as optional equipment on 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.