2009 Pontiac Vibe

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22 CITY / 29 HWY
Overall Quality
Overall Performance and Design
Predicted Reliability


What Changed for 2009:
  • Second-generation model
  • Four-door hatchback body style
  • Four-model lineup, including return of sporty GT
  • Seating for 5
  • New styling inside and out
  • Front- or all-wheel drive (FWD or AWD)
  • Choice of two 4-cylinder engines
  • New 5-speed automatic with tap-shift controls (base or GT)
  • Standard 6 air bags, stability & traction control, tire-pressure monitor, ABS
  • Available in first quarter 2008
Pontiac released the Vibe in mid 2002 as a 2003 model. Offered only as a compact 4-door hatchback, the first-generation Vibe shared its basic design with the Toyota Matrix. It was originally offered with a choice of 130- or 180-hp 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engines and FWD or AWD. AWD and the high-horsepower engine were dropped for the 2007 model year.

Just as Toyota redesigned the Matrix and released it in early 2008 as a 2009 model, Pontiac is doing the same with the Vibe. Compared to the previous model, the 2009 Vibe is one inch shorter and one inch lower, and it has a slightly wider track (the distance between the center of the wheels on the same axle). Pontiac says this makes the second-generation Vibe handle better than its predecessor. A 1.8-liter engine returns, and it is joined for 2009 by a new high-output 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine. Available AWD also returns. The 2009 Vibe is still offered as a hatchback, but Pontiac calls it a crossover utility vehicle. The rear seats fold down to create a rear cargo area with 49.4 cubic feet of space.

Model Lineup
The 2009 Pontiac Vibe is offered in four models: the base Vibe 1.8L, Vibe 2.4L, Vibe AWD model and the sporty Vibe GT. Standard features on the base model include cloth upholstery; 4-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo with XM satellite radio and auxiliary input jack; power windows, doors and mirrors; tilt/telescoping steering wheel; 6-way adjustable driver's seat; 115-volt power outlet; GM's OnStar telematics; 60/40 split second-row seat; pop-up rear cargo organizer; and P205/55R16 tires on steel wheels with hubcaps. Optional for the base model are a 320-watt, 7-speaker Monsoon audio system; a fold-flat front passenger seat; a sunroof; fog lights; and P215/45R17 tires on aluminum wheels.

The AWD model adds a roof rack, fold-flat front passenger seat, AWD, and available 17-inch machine-faced aluminum or chrome-cladded aluminum wheels. Standard features on the GT include the 320-watt, 7-speaker Monsoon audio system; leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob; leather upholstery; and P215/45R18 all-season performance tires on 18-inch aluminum wheels. The GT can also be distinguished by its larger fog lamps, larger lower front fascia air intake, rocker panel moldings, roof spoiler and bright exhaust tip.

Power for the 2009 Pontiac Vibe comes from a choice of two Toyota-sourced, 16-valve 4-cylinder engines. The base model gets a new aluminum dual-overhead cam 1.8-liter engine with dual variable valve timing with intelligence (VVT-i). It makes 132 hp at 6000 rpm and 128 lb.-ft. of torque at 4400 rpm. It's mated to a standard 5-speed manual transmission or an optional 4-speed automatic transmission.

Optional for the base model and standard for the others is the aluminum DOHC 2.4-liter VVT-i ) 4-cylinder engine that is also used in the Toyota Camry. In the Vibe, it makes 158 hp at 6000 rpm and 162 lb.-ft. of torque at 4000 rpm. Base and GT models with the 2.4-liter engine come standard with a 5-speed manual transmission or an optional 5-speed automatic transmission. The latter has Pontiac's Driver Shift Control, which allows the driver to choose gears via a manual shiftgate. A 4-speed automatic is the only transmission offered with the AWD model. Fuel economy numbers range from 26 mpg city/32 mpg highway for the 1.8-liter engine with the manual transmission (26 mpg city/31 mpg highway for the automatic transmission), to 21 mpg city/28 mpg highway for the 2.4-liter engine with a manual transmission (21 mpg city/29 mpg highway for the automatic transmission), to 20 mpg city/26 mpg highway for the AWD model. Pontiac says the GT model is capable of an 8.4-second 0-to-60 mph run.

The Vibe shares its unibody architecture with the Toyota Matrix, and is derived from the Toyota Corolla. It has an independent front suspension with MacPherson struts and coil springs. The base model comes with what Pontiac calls a semi-independent torsion beam rear suspension with a trailing link, coil springs and a stabilizer bar. GT and AWD models have a multi-link independent double wishbone rear suspension.

The Vibe's new AWD system uses an electronically controlled viscous coupeing. In normal conditions, most of the power is routed through the front wheels, but it can send as much as 60 percent of the power to the rear.

Standard safety features on the 2009 Pontiac Vibe include six air bags (dual-stage front air bags with passenger-seat occupant sensor, head-protecting curtain side air bags, torso-protecting front side air bags); active head restraints; daytime running lamps; tire-pressure monitor; 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes (ABS); traction control, and electronic stability control.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the 2009 Pontiac Vibe receives 5 stars (the agency's highest rating) in frontal crash testing for both driver and front passenger, as well as a 5-star side-impact score for front occupants and 4-star side-impact score for rear-seat occupants. The Vibe receives 4 stars for rollover resistance in FWD or AWD. As of this writing, the Vibe has not yet been crash tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

Every 2009 Pontiac Vibe features XM radio standard for three months. The standard audio system on all but GT is an AM/FM stereo with CD player, seek-and-scan, digital clock, Radio Data System, Theftlock, programmable equalizer and auxiliary input jack for iPod/MP3 player, and 4 speakers. The standard GT audio system (optional on other models) adds MP3 playback. Also standard on GT is a Monsoon 7-speaker system with 120 watts, amplifier and subwoofer.

OnStar services (accident assistance, automatic notification of air bag deployment, emergency services, remote door unlock, roadside assistance, stolen vehicle location assistance and vehicle diagnostics) are also standard for one year on all 2009 Pontiac Vibe models.

J.D. Power Ratings

J.D. Power data for this year, make and model is not available at this time

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*Please note that JDPower.com Power Circle Ratings may not include all information used to determine J.D. Power awards. Learn more about how J.D. Power Ratings are calculated.

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