Shopping for a new Pontiac Vibe?
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PERFORMANCE | 7 out of 10
Solid, useful throttle response off idle
The Vibe handled itself very well on the road
Noticeably stronger from a stop, with better than average merging and passing punch
A 1.8-liter engine may not sound like much in a car the size of the 2009 Pontiac Vibe, but reviews read by TheCarConnection.com show that this 2009 Pontiac has a few athletic moves up its sleeve.
According to Cars.com, the base 2009 Pontiac Vibe is powered by "a 1.8-liter four-cylinder that now makes 132 hp," while a "newly optional 158 HP 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine" powers both the Pontiac Vibe GT and AWD versions. Impressed with the Pontiac Vibe 2009's performance, Edmunds reports "the engine revs smoothly and quietly" and that "the run to 60 mph" in the GT "is estimated at around 8 seconds, about average in its class." ConsumerGuide reviewers find that the base 2009 Pontiac Vibe's 1.8-liter engine "offers adequate acceleration," while the 2.4-liter engine "is noticeably stronger from a stop, with better than average merging and passing punch." While the extra oomph might be nice to have every now and then, Detroit News reviewers think that "the smaller 1.8-liter engine will probably serve most people," and though horsepower is a bit lower at 132 hp, they claim that "that's plenty."
The Pontiac Vibe 2009 lineup has three available transmissions. Edmunds lists the transmission breakdown as follows: "a five-speed manual transmission is standard on all but the AWD, which comes with a four-speed automatic," while "an available five-speed automatic" is offered on the GT and AWD versions of this 2009 Pontiac. Reviews read by TheCarConnection.com show the four-speed auto is pleasant enough, with Cars.com reporting that the "four-speed automatic transmission quickly kicks down if you need a little boost of power, and otherwise goes about the business of shifting gears without much fanfare, which is just what you want from an automatic." ConsumerGuide praises the standard manual as well, finding that it "has smooth shift action and a light clutch."
One distinct advantage of low-output engines is that they offer relatively high fuel economy, which is reflected on the 1.8-liter's EPA numbers. The EPA estimates that this 2009 Pontiac with the 1.8-liter engine will get 26 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway when paired with the manual transmission, while the automatic returns nearly the same numbers, at 26 mpg city/31 mpg highway. With the bigger 2.4-liter engines, the EPA estimates the five-speed automatic will get 21 mpg city, 29 mpg highway, while the four-speed auto hits 20/26 mpg and the manual offers 21/28 mpg. In real-world testing, ConsumerGuide reports that their GT version of this 2009 Pontiac "with automatic transmission averaged 20.5 mpg, a little disappointing for a front-drive compact car," while the AWD model "averaged 28.8 mpg in mostly highway driving."
When it comes to enthusiastic driving, the 2009 Pontiac Vibe gets mixed reviews, though in more relaxed situations its strengths shine through. ConsumerGuide reports that "base Vibes are competent handlers but not really sporty," although the GT is "more agile, yet not as flingable as one might expect of a compact car with sporty pretensions." Kelley Blue Book feels that the 2009 Pontiac Vibe "drives and handles like a compact sedan," but Edmunds remarks that it is "not quite as entertaining as the decidedly sporty Mazda 3." However, most reviewers appreciate the steering feel, which ConsumerGuide deems "generally good in both models," but is "subject to crosswind wander at highway speeds." Cars.com agrees, calling the 2009 Pontiac Vibe "an easy car to drive." Unfortunately, braking on the 2009 Pontiac Vibe isn't ideal, and Cars.com comments that "the Vibe's brake-pedal feel leaves something to be desired," though they note "the hatchback comes to a stop without trouble."
It's doubtful that anyone would call it punchy, but the 2009 Pontiac Vibe offers adequate acceleration and acceptable performance for penny-pinching buyers.