Vibe Booted With Pontiac…But Toyota JV Plant Still In GM's Future

May 27, 2009

We at TheCarConnection.com are sad to see the Vibe go along with the rest of the Pontiac brand. It ranks as one of our top-rated hatchbacks; and the latest version, with good fuel economy and a roomy, versatile interior, just strikes the right balance between practicality and sportiness for a lot of budget-conscious commuters.

Is the Vibe really going away, or is it to gain a Chevrolet badge? Unfortunately it looks like Vibe production will be halted at the Fremont, California, plant, called NUMMI, that’s a joint venture between GM and Toyota—and a solid UAW facility. After widespread reports earlier this spring that the company was looking to leave its stake of the venture, which also builds Toyota Corolla sedans and Toyota Tacoma pickups, NUMMI is definitely part of the company’s future product plans, assured GM spokesman Jim Hopson, who added that the company is “certainly not shutting them out,” but what to do with NUMMI next is “still an active conversation going on,” he says.

The logical product choice seems to be to keep building the Vibe, give it some slight styling and badging changes, and call it a Chevy (like the former Chevy/Geo Prizm) that would sell alongside the new Cruze sedan—as last we checked the Cruze hatchback won’t be coming to the U.S. It has to be cheaper than the Astra. The logic might not follow here in the frenzy of restructuring; Hopson said it’s not likely that the Vibe will be moved to the Chevrolet lineup—moving an entirely different product to NUMMI is the more likely choice. But don’t rule anything out, he added.

The Vibe’s cousin, the Toyota Matrix (made in Ontario), will of course continue, but the Vibe has always been TheCarConnection.com’s favorite of the two. Especially with the latest generation, which made its debut last year as an early 2009 model, the Vibe’s styling details in front and in back result in a more flattering look, even if the overall proportions are the same.

2009 Pontiac Vibe

2009 Pontiac Vibe

Enlarge Photo

Electronic stability control is optional on the Matrix while it’s standard on the less-expensive Vibe, and the Vibe, surprisingly, has lower predicted depreciation over five years. The Vibe comes with standard electronic stability control, at a lower price than the Matrix.

Our Buying Tips advice in the 2009 Pontiac Vibe Bottom Line—that you’ll likely get better post-sale service at the Pontiac dealership than the Toyota store—will no longer be true, sadly, as many Pontiac outlets liquidate. Catch those good Vibes while you can.

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