Quick Drive: 2009 Pontiac Vibe

February 2, 2009
2009 Pontiac Vibe GT

2009 Pontiac Vibe GT

General Motors and Toyota have been cooperatively building cars for decades. The 1985 Chevrolet Nova was one of their first co-manufacturing efforts, and at the time, it was GM's best small car. (That's not saying much if you remember Chevette and the original J-Cars.)The Pontiac Vibe is another one of those GM/Toyota product, sharing much with the Toyota Matrix. First, we'll comments on what's good. Overall, the quality of this Pontiac was top notch. Our model was drum tight even with 5,000 miles on the odo. Given our major complaint (see below), this came as a pleasant surprise.

The interior was well insulated from road and wind noise, and was actually easier to hold front-to-rear-seat conversations than in the last (and very nice) 2009 Mazda6 we had at TheCarConnection.com offices. The multi-band radio was also easy to use, as GM has mastered the HMI (human machine interface) of having favorite stations on different bands be one-touch available. Plus this radio has a tuning knob. Atta boy, Delphi.

On the downside, our Vibe GT sported Toyota's 2.4-liter VVT-i four-cylinder with 158 horsepower and a five-speed manual gearbox. This powertrain is totally uninvolving and completely lackluster to drive. The throttle and clutch give no feedback, and the shifter doesn't encourage driver interaction because of its detached action. The power is only adequate, but if ever a car should just come with an automatic transmission, this one is it.

Worse by far was the GT's suspension. Those responsible for this its calibrations should be fired … or given a promotion out of the chassis development department. The ride is completely unacceptable; far too rough, harsh, and stiff for this type of vehicle. The lack of low-speed compliance might be acceptable in a track-prepared Lotus or Corvette, but this is a Vibe. Somebody needs to get a clue. Only when I was making an airport run with some rather large passengers (about 500 pounds worth) and their ample luggage (about 120 pounds) did the ride smooth out.

For those considering the 2009 Pontiac Vibe GT, better cars exist. See why and what we recommend over on our 2009 Pontiac Vibe page.

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