By KBB.com Editors
For the 2009 model year, the Pontiac Vibe is all-new and continues to share its layout and components with Toyota's Matrix and Corolla, but has its own, quite distinctive sheetmetal. Combining SUV-like utility with compact car-like agility and acceleration, the Vibe fits almost every need, from cargo hauling to people moving. It's competitive with the MAZDA3 five-door, Dodge Caliber and Chevy HHR, as it offers the same type of versatility with a comparable, affordable price tag.
If you're looking for roominess on a budget, you'll like that the Pontiac Vibe has more interior room, cargo volume and a lower price tag than both the MAZDA3 and Chevy HHR.
Although sportier than before, the Vibe still isn't as athletic as the MAZDA3, and it lacks some clever features like the Chill Box or the tailgate speakers of the Dodge Caliber.
The 2009 Pontiac Vibe has more to offer, with the addition of an available all-wheel-drive version, a more powerful engine and an updated look. The GT and AWD (all-wheel drive) models have a 2.4-liter engine and the base model has a 1.8-liter engine that offers more performance than last year's version.
Driving Impressions Despite its taller stance and wagon-like shape, the 2009 Pontiac Vibe drives and handles like a compact sedan. During the foul-weather conditions in which we drove it, the...Vibe gripped the curvy, wet roads and took the turns well. Cabin noise was at a minimum, as the turbulent sounds of wind and rain were nearly undetectable. The 1.8-liter engine was peppy and powerful enough for the hills of our test drive route, but the 2.4-liter engine made the car even more fun and pleasurable. The low-end torque of the larger engine made the Vibe feel more eager on the inclines and, needless to say, made it easier to accelerate up to highway speeds.
A nice upgrade from the more-economical 1.8-liter engine, the 2.4-liter version provides more power and off-the-line torque.
Mounted on the center console, the 115-volt outlet is a handy, standard feature that allows you to plug in household appliances without needing a 12-volt adapter.
The controls and gauges were redesigned and are easier to use, and the knit fabric found in the base and AWD trims is of good quality. The GT offers a more plush interior, complete with cloth and leather seats and leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. A generous amount of cargo space is available, as the rear seats and front passenger seat fold flat to accommodate longer items. Standard features include a tilt and telescoping steering column and a 115-volt power outlet.Exterior
The 2009 Pontiac Vibe has new sheetmetal, with bolder wheel arches and larger wheels that make it look sportier than the last generation. All of the trim levels have unique features; the AWD has a standard roof rack and the GT has larger fog lamps, lower intake ducts, a roof spoiler and a polished exhaust tip. The base and AWD trim levels have 16-inch steel wheels with full wheel covers (17-inch chrome or machine-finish wheels are optional), while the GT has 18-inch aluminum wheels.
A base 2009 Pontiac Vibe has a 1.8-liter engine and a five-speed manual transmission, four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, 16-inch wheels and tires, six-way adjustable driver's seat, four-speaker sound system with AM/FM radio with CD, XM satellite and an auxiliary input jack. Safety features include OnStar, Stabilitrak with traction control, a tire-pressure monitoring system and front, side-impact and head-curtain side airbags. The GT trim adds 18-inch aluminum wheels, premium sound and a leather-trimmed interior.
Options include a 2.4-liter engine, four-speed or five-speed automatic transmission, 320-watt premium Monsoon sound system, power glass sunroof, rear cargo organizer, 17-inch chrome or machine-finish wheels and a roof rack.
The revised 1.8-liter engine provides much better performance than before, but the 2.4-liter is what makes the Vibe really shine. The higher power and torque ratings make this car more fun to drive and versatile for hauling people and cargo, and the available all-wheel drive version is a good option for those living in areas with harsh weather conditions.
1.8-liter in-line 4
132 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
128 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 26/32 (manual), 25/31 (automatic)
2.4-liter in-line 4
158 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
162 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/26 (AWD), 21/28 (manual), 21/29 (automatic)
By Tom (MI) on Saturday, December 14, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 65,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "great value for the money"
Cons: "Sun visors don't extend; no electronic compass"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"My Vibe is 5 yrs old and I haven't had any problems with it. I own the GT model, which has the larger 4 cyl engine. Good acceleration, but still good gas mileage. I like the fact that it has hatch & 4 doors, even though I rarely use rear seats (which can fold down). Not the smoothest or quietest ride, but better than many cars this size. This is not a luxury vehicle, but is very versatile and nimble."
By alan (CA) on Sunday, September 29, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 46,000overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "Good on the basics--value and handling."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"I'm trading in my VIBE after 4 years in spite of its good points--value, reliability, zippy handling for the money. Drive train has been flawless, though the throttle is touchy. Exterior and interior appointments--not so much. The little round hubcaps fell off after a few thousand miles. No problems with spontaneous acceleration, which Toyota (which furnished the drive train) blamed on floor mats. Main complaint: excessive road noise and wind rush makes listening to classical music a frustration--a plus for you Led Zepplin fans, I guess. GM has adequate service back-up for the discontinued Pontiac line, at least in my limited experience."
2 people out of 2 found this review helpful
By VAfurkidmom (VA) on Friday, August 30, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 90,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great value, fun to own, great mileage, low maint."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I love this car! It is extremely reliable,low maintenance,and an all around great small car. I really like not having to sit "down" in it, rather sit "in" and swing in my legs. Plus, the viewpoint sits a little higher than a car. It's fun to drive and easy to maneuver. Plus the versatility possible by laying down the back seat makes it very attractive for hauling everything from 20 bags of mulch to moving a college student into the dorm! The Vibe is basically a Toyota Matrix with a Pontiac body. The value I've experienced with it led me to purchase an '09 Matrix for my kid."
By matt (GA) on Wednesday, August 28, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 73,431overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "with gas being so high it only take me $30 a week"
Cons: "the tire are every costly i payed almost a $1000"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"i really have enjoyed this car i own a thirft store and there is not much that i haven't been able to haul with this car im almost 6ft and i have alot of leg room in my car i had a jeep befor i got this car and i dont miss it at all this is by far the best car i have ever had the only down side to this car is all the gt have the 18 inch wheels and the tires are every costly i have had to buy two sets of tires in to years becouse the are low pro tires"
2 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By Paula C (MI) on Monday, August 19, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 53,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Good mileage and roomy for a smaller SUV"
Cons: "Road noise"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"I bought this car new and it has been very reliable, especially on road trips. Good mileage and I take three dogs in it. I like the way the back seat goes down giving extra room so I can carry my bike. Good car for the sports minded individual who wants good mileage. My only complaint is that road noise is louder than I would like. No mechanical problems, just a new battery. I would recommend it and I am sorry Pontiac went out of business."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By DaniJ (IN) on Monday, August 19, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 55,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive, fuel economy, fast, sporty, spacious"
Cons: "Cloth seats hard to clean"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"This car is fun to drive and fun to own. It has great pick up for a small engine and I love the fuel economy. My tall husband has plenty of room as a passenger or driver. LOVE the sunroof, MP3 plug in and nice stereo system. The truck area is awesome for groceries, home improvement items, or even a decent size dog kennel when traveling. LOVE how the seats lay flat...this should be a requirement in every vehicle! My only complaints are the cloth seats; can be difficult to clean. And the front corner columns between window and windshield can sometimes block my view. Otherwise, this car is a dream and I'll drive it until it doesn't want to run anymore."