2009 Pontiac Vibe Preview

Jeff Youngs | Dec 31, 2008
  • Second-generation model

  • Four-door hatchback body style

  • Seating for 5

  • Front- or all-wheel drive (FWD or AWD)

  • Choice of two 4-cylinder engines

  • Three-model lineup

  • Sales to start in early 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. All-wheel drive and the high-horsepower engine were dropped for the 2007 model year.
Toyota has redesigned the Matrix and is releasing 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 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 LineupThe 2009 Pontiac Vibe is offered in three models: the base model, the AWD model and the sporty 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, chrome-plated aluminum wheels, and AWD. 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 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 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. 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 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, to 21 mpg city/29 mpg highway for the 2.4-liter engine with a manual 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 coupling. 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 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, tire-pressure monitor, 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, traction control, and electronic stability control.
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