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By Jim Flammang
February 15, 2005
Vehicle Overview Pontiac launched its entry-level Vibe hatchback wagon as an early 2003 model. Styled by Pontiac and engineered by Toyota, the Vibe is produced at a Toyota/General Motors joint-venture facility in Fremont, Calif. The Vibe is related to the Toyota Matrix.
Like other small "crossover" models, the Vibe combines features of a sports car, a sport wagon and a sport utility vehicle. That sounds like a lot of sport, and the Vibe leans in that direction because Pontiac has long been portrayed as the sportiest member of the GM divisions.
The grille and front fascia have been restyled for 2005. Leather seating, seat-mounted side-impact airbags and side curtain-type airbags are available. A tire-pressure monitor is included on GT and all-wheel-drive models, and GM's StabiliTrak electronic stability system is available. GM's OnStar communication system is optional, and a new Moon & Tunes package includes a subwoofer.
The Vibe was designed to target youthful buyers and is offered with front- or all-wheel drive.
Exterior Exhibiting a sleek wedge profile and short overhangs, the Vibe has basic styling cues that suggest an SUV. A slight resemblance to the company's controversial Aztek may be noted, but the Vibe is considerably less radical.
Tapering side window lines are reminiscent of the Ford Focus Wagon. The distinctive roofline has an integrated roof rack. Bold features include a vented front fascia with a twin-port grille and recessed fog lamps.
The Vibe measures 171.9 inches long, stands 62.2 inches tall and has a 102.4-inch wheelbase. Standard tires are 16 inches in diameter, but 17-inchers are available. All-wheel-drive Vibes have an independent rear suspension.
Interior The Vibe can seat five occupants; it 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, creating a level load floor for cargo up to 8 feet long. When the backseat is folded down, cargo space behind the front row totals 54.1 cubic feet. The front passenger seat can fold into a worktable.
Chrome-trimmed gauges in the driver-oriented cockpit feature the traditional red Pontiac backlighting. Chrome tie-downs allow easy transport of bicycles and other loose items. A CD player is standard. An in-dash six-CD changer, DVD-based navigation system and XM Satellite Radio are optional.
Under the Hood The base 130-horsepower, 1.8-liter four-cylinder teams with a standard five-speed-manual transmission or an optional four-speed automatic. That engine produces 123 hp with all-wheel drive and works only with the automatic. The Vibe GT holds a 170-hp, 1.8-liter four-cylinder that teams with a six-speed-manual gearbox. Premium fuel is recommended for the GT. For extra performance, an accessory supercharger is available for the base model.
Safety Antilock brakes are standard on all-wheel-drive and GT models and optional on the base front-drive Vibe. The Vibe GT gets all-disc brakes, while others use a front-disc/rear-drum setup. Seat-mounted side-impact airbags and side curtain-type airbags are available.