The 2008 Pontiac Vibe boasts a sporty and aggressive exterior, but the bite on the Pontiac Vibe's engine simply doesn't come close to matching the visual bark.
All 2008 Pontiac Vibes come equipped with "a 1.8-liter 126-horsepower four-cylinder" engine, according to Edmunds, and reviews read by TheCarConnection.com show that the Pontiac Vibe is significantly underpowered. Although Edmunds reports "acceleration is respectable as long as you don't mind winding the engine up past 4,000 rpm," other reviewers aren't so nice. ConsumerGuide reviewers say that the Pontiac Vibe's "small engine needs high rpm to deliver any sort of power," but even then, "passing punch is mediocre at best." As far as enthusiast drivers are concerned, Kelley Blue Book warns that "fun is conspicuous by its absence, particularly with the deletion of the 170-hp engine option last year."
The Pontiac Vibe is also available with one of two transmission choices; Edmunds states that these are "a standard five-speed manual transmission" for those who like to shift for themselves or "an optional four-speed automatic." ConsumerGuide contends the "automatic transmission is smooth but has to shift frequently." Edmunds adds that "with the automatic, off-the-line punch is softer" than the already-slow manual. With the standard manual, Car and Driver reviewers lament the "poor pedal placement."
Fortunately, both transmission options offer impressive fuel economy, especially for a car that is as practical as the 2008 Pontiac Vibe. Edmunds says that "fuel economy is excellent" on the Pontiac Vibe, and the official EPA estimates for the automatic transmission are 25 mpg city and 31 mpg on the highway. With the manual, those numbers inch up, to 26 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway. ConsumerGuide manages to exceed those numbers, with one of their test Pontiac Vibes averaging "a frugal 36.3 mpg in mostly highway use."
What the 2008 Pontiac Vibe lacks in off-the-line acceleration it manages to atone for when it comes to handling. Reviews read by TheCarConnection.com are impressed with the Pontiac Vibe's road manners, and ConsumerGuide says "for a tall wagon, Vibe corners without undue body lean." Kelley Blue Book reviewers love that "the steering response is direct and linear, with no trace of torque steer," and also offer praise for the "pleasantly smooth ride." Edmunds finds that "a supple ride makes the Vibe a good companion whether handling commuting duty or road tripping." However, most reviewers note that braking without the ABS isn't ideal, and ConsumerGuide remarks "the optional ABS is a purchase we strongly recommend."