Making cheap and practical transportation cool is not an easy job, something similar to asking the leader of a high school math club to get crazy at a hip-hop dance club. But unlike President Poindexter, though, the 2008 Pontiac Vibe manages to combine being both smart and edgy at the same time.
When it landed five years ago, the Vibe was one of the first entries in the tall, sport compact wagon class. Combining SUV, minivan and compact sport sedan themes, it featured styles such as an elevated driving position, generous passenger room, a versatile cargo area and sporty design. Impressive fuel economy together with an easy-to-handle price tag furthered this Pontiac’s allure.http://www.automobileglobe.com/2008-pontiac-vibe-wagon/
The Vibe also has advantage from good family genes. A platform twin to the Toyota Matrix, the Vibe’s running gear and most of its cabin design is derived from Toyota, which bodes well for long-term reliability and durability. The exterior styling is only where the two differ, and the vibe looks more handsome of the two with its chiseled lines and distinctive trademark grille as is the opposite of the Matrix’s bland nose and bulbous body.
Coming shorter than the typical compact sedan, the Vibe is a snap to Parallel Park and maneuver in tight spots. Also driver-friendly is the “word of the road” view out the windshield afforded by this Pontiac’s taller seating pattern. The upward architectural design with its elevated seating provides for a spacious cabin, mostly for rear-seat passengers. The cargo side is versatile too, with a plastic load floor that can be quickly wiped clean, along with a fold-flat front passenger seat that lets long items to be carried inside.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2008 Pontiac Vibe is a compact, five-passenger wagon that lands in a single trim level. Standard designs include 16-inch wheels, air-conditioning, a CD player and tilt steering. Most buyers will probably want the optional Preferred Package, which gives full power accessories, cruise control and keyless entry. There is also the Sun and Sound Package with a sunroof and an upgraded audio system. Go for both and you’re eligible to order OnStar as well. Other features include leather seating, satellite radio, 17-inch alloy wheels and a Sport package (which includes a monochromatic paint scheme, 16-inch alloy wheels and an in-dash six-disc CD changer).
Powertrains and Performance
A 1.8-liter 126-horsepower four-cylinder given to either a standard five-speed manual transmission or an optional four-speed automatic is the Vibe’s only engine choice. With the manual gearbox, acceleration is respectable as long as you don’t mind winding the engine up past 4,000 rpm. With the automatic, off-the-line punch is softer but otherwise acceleration is cool. Though it’s smooth, the engine can be a bit noisy when kept on the boil, however. Fuel economy is great, with the more realistic 2008 estimates putting it at 26 mpg city and 33 mpg highway for manual transmission-equipped models. (The automatic is actaully a few mpg less.)
Virtually all the latest safety features can be seen on the 2008 Pontiac Vibe, though they will cost you extra. Front seat side airbags, side curtain airbags, stability control and antilock brakes are all optional features. In National Highway Traffic Safety Administration crash tests, the Vibe got a perfect five stars in frontal-impact testing for the driver and four stars for the front passenger. Side impact testing (with the optional airbags) by that agency resulted in five stars for the front and four stars for the rear.
Interior Design and Special Features
Adding beauty up inside the Vibe are chrome-ringed gauges and metallic accents. When not giving roomy seating for passengers, the 60/40-split rear folds completely flat to offer 54 cubic feet of usable cargo space. Increasing the capacity further is a folding front passenger seat that allows long objects to be transported inside, a 115-volt A/C power outlet and a durable plastic cargo floor with adjustable tie-down anchors. All displays and controls come simple and intuitive, including those for the often-used climate control and audio systems. Build quality is also excellent, as most of the interior bits and pieces are taken from Toyota.
Inspite of the fact that the 2008 Pontiac Vibe’s handling isn’t as entertaining as that of the decidedly sporty Mazda 3, it is responsive and composed. Body roll is minimal and turn-in is fairly crisp. A supple ride makes the Vibe a good partner whether handling commuting duty or road tripping, and freeway cruising is unstrained at higher speeds.