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.You'll Like This Car If...
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.You May Not Like This Car If...
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.What's New for 2009
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.
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.Favorite Features
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.Notable Standard Equipment
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.Notable Optional Equipment
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)
A base 2009 Pontiac Vibe's Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starts at just under $16,000, while opting for the 2.4-liter engine bumps the price to a little over $16,000. The AWD model, with more equipment, is about $19,500 and the sporty GT is just under $20,000. A look at the Fair Purchase Price will show you the typical transaction price paid for a Vibe in your area, so be sure to check it out before you begin negotiations. Over time, the Pontiac Vibe should hold residual values higher than those of the Dodge Caliber and Chevy HHR, but slightly lower than those of the MAZDA3 five-door.