Styled by Pontiac and engineered by Toyota, the entry-level Vibe four-door hatchback is produced at a Toyota/General Motors joint-venture facility in Fremont, Calif. The plant also produces the Vibe's sister vehicle, the Toyota Matrix. Pontiac launched the Vibe as an early 2003 model. Initially it had a choice of front- or all-wheel drive and low- and high-output engines. Since that time, the choices have only decreased, with two of the most attractive features — the more powerful engine and all-wheel drive — both eliminated for the 2007 model year. On the upside, the Vibe has added safety features such as side airbags and an electronic stability system. As for 2008, with the exception of a tire pressure monitoring system and a few tweaks to option package contents and prices, not a thing has changed since the 2007 model.
Pontiac has long been positioned as the sportiest member of GM's divisions, but the Vibe's sole engine is a 126-horsepower, 1.8-liter four-cylinder. Its strength now is fuel economy. The EPA's more stringent (and realistic) estimates are 26/33 mpg (city/highway) for the five-speed manual and 25/31 for the four-speed automatic. The Vibe also boasts exceptional reliability to date.
With a sleek wedge profile and short overhangs, the Vibe displays basic styling cues that suggest an SUV — or a gigantic athletic shoe. Tapering side windows are reminiscent of the Ford Focus wagon. The distinctive roofline has an integrated roof rack. The front features 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 steel wheels measure 16 inches in diameter, but 17-inch aluminum wheels are available.
The Vibe can seat five occupants. Both the front passenger seat and the 60/40-split backseat fold flat, creating a level, easy-to-clean plastic 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. Leather seating surfaces are optional.
Chrome-trimmed gauges in the driver-oriented cockpit feature the traditional red Pontiac backlighting. Chrome tie-downs are installed, and a CD stereo is standard. An in-dash six-CD changer and XM Satellite Radio are optional.
Under the Hood
The Vibe's 126-hp, 1.8-liter four-cylinder teams with a standard five-speed manual transmission or an optional four-speed automatic.
Antilock brakes, an electronic stability system, side-impact and side curtain airbags, and GM's OnStar communication system are optional. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has not crash tested the Vibe.