2003-2008 Pontiac Vibe review

Overall rating:4.5 Star Rating: Recommended
2007 Pontiac Vibe
Pontiac Vibe

Pontiac Vibe, introduced in 2002 as a 2003 model, is a product of joint venture between General Motors and Toyota. The Vibe is based on the Toyota Corolla platform and is powered by the Toyota engine. Pontiac Vibe is a tall and relatively short sporty wagon with available AWD system and spacious cargo area. Until recently, the Vibewas one of the most fuel-efficient models in the GM line-up. The 2006 Pontiac Vibe with an automatic transmission is rated by the EPA at 25/31 mpg or 9.4/7.6 L/100 km; with the annual fuel cost estimated at $1,900.
The Vibe base and AWD models come with the 130-hp DOHC 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine with variable timing; it's the same engine as in the Toyota Corolla. The Vibe GT comes with a high-performance 180-horsepower version of the same engine with variable timing and valve lift. Both Vibe engines use a long-lasting timing chain; there is no timing belt. Either of these two engines is very reliable if maintained properly.

Pontiac Vibe interior
Pontiac Vibe interior
Pontiac Vibe front seat folded
The front passenger seat folds flat resembling a table.
Pontiac Vibe cargo area
The split rear seat folds flat offering plenty of cargo space

The Vibe base model is available with a four-speed automatic or five-speed manual transmission. The AWD model comes only with four-speed automatic transmission. The GT offers sporty six-speed manual transmission.
Anti-lock brakes (ABS) are standard on AWD and GT models and optional on the base Vibe model. Inside, the Vibe is roomy and versatile. The elevated roofline provides generous headroom for the front and rear passengers. The dashboard looks sharp and sporty with round gauges and chrome trimming. The driver's place offers tall seating position and easy to use controls. The Vibe's optional 115V power outlet could be very handy when you need to charge your laptop or a cell phone during a long trip. The split rear seat folds flat, offering extra cargo space. An adjustable roof rack for extra luggage is available. The front passenger seat folds flat, turning into a table or providing space for extra long items. The rear hatch window opens separately for easy cargo access.
The Vibe offers stable ride and good handling. The engine is a bit noisy at acceleration. An available all-wheel drive system provides better traction on slippery roads.
The seat-mounted side air bags are available as an option. In the NHTSA frontal crash tests, the 2003-2004 Pontiac Vibe received five stars for both the driver and the front passenger. The 2005-2008 model has received five stars for the driver and four stars for the front passenger in the same tests.

Pros: Fuel economy, versatility, reliability, sporty styling, cargo space, rear liftgate glass opens separately

Cons: Interior materials could be better, plastic trim around the stereo is easy to scratch, plastic floor in the cargo area, engine noise on acceleration, wind noise at highway speed

Overall: The Pontiac Vibe offers great combination of stylish sporty look, spacious interior and versatility of an SUV with excellent fuel economy of a small car. It's also available with AWD, although the AWD models are rare to find. The Vibe is reliable and easy to maintain; it's essentially Toyota Matrix with some GM components and a Pontiac badge. With high gas prices, the Pontiac Vibe is a really good alternative to a thirsty SUV or minivan. Problems are rare and mostly minor, like noisy serpentine belt idler, faulty battery, check engine light and alike.

What to look for when buying a used Pontiac Vibe: Before buying a used car, check the used car history, read more. A history report can save your time and money; A quick check may reveal that the car was involved in an accident, or had some other issues in the past.
- Low oil level or black soot in the exhaust could indicate excessive oil consumption, which is a fairly common problem for the 1.8L engine. Watch out for leaks. Test the heater and the air conditioner.
- If the 'Check Engine' light stays on, have it checked out. Intake leaks and air flow sensor issues often cause the "Check Engine" light with the code P0171 (lean mixture).
- Lack of power, rough idle, misfiring, could also be caused by intake leaks or a dirty air flow sensor.
- During the test drive, see if the automatic transmission shifts smoothly and the car holds the road well. Watch our for noises and vibration. Read our illustrated used car checklist for more info.
- Paying a $50-$100 for a mechanical inspection may also save you money. Have the car inspected before buying it. If you have doubts about the vehicle, check a couple of other similar cars to compare. A well-maintained car in good condition certainly worth to pay a little extra.
You might also be interested:

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Maintenance: If you live in the area where salt use is common in winter months, consider a rustproofing to protect the car body and chassis from corrosion. Read more Car body care tips.
- Overheating can cause serious engine problems; keep the coolant topped up. The owner's manual for a 2005 Pontiac Vibe recommends to change engine oil every 5,000 miles or 8,000 kilometers. I'd personally change it a little more often. Also, synthetic oil can provide extra protection for your engine.
- Pontiac Vibe is a lightweight car. If you want better traction on the snowy roads, consider installing winter tires for a snow season.
If your Check Engine light stays on, read What the Check Engine light means.
More on maintenance:

10 tips how to keep your car running longer and
save money on car repairs How to extend the life
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Simple car maintenance tips Easy car maintenance
checklist with photos »

Pontiac Vibe short specifications (2005 model)

Overall length:
Overall width:
Overall height:   
-with 16" wheels:
-with 17" wheels:

171.9 (4365 mm)
69.9 (1775 mm)

62.2 (1580 mm)
62.5 (1590 mm)
102.4 (2600 mm)

Seating Capacity:


Cargo volume:
behind 2nd seat:
behind driver:

19.3 cu. ft (547 liters)
54.1 cu. ft (1532 liters)

Pontiac Vibe base:

Pontiac Vibe GT:

1.8-liter, 4-cylinder, in-line twin-cam, 16-valve
DOHC with variable timing, aluminum alloy block and head
130/123 hp (2WD/4WD) @ 6,000 rpm
125/118 lb-ft (2WD/4WD) @ 4,200 rpm

1.8-liter, 4-cylinder, in-line twin-cam, 16-valve DOHC
with variable timing and lift, aluminum alloy block and head
170 hp @ 7,600 rpm, 127 lb-ft @ 4,400 rpm

EPA Fuel Economy (US mpg, L/100 km):
Pontiac Vibe base 2WD Manual:

Pontiac Vibe base 2WD Automatic:

Pontiac Vibe AWD Automatic:

Pontiac Vibe GT 6-speed Manual:

city: 30 mpg (7.8 L/100 km)
hwy: 36 mpg (6.5 L/100 km)

city: 29 mpg (8.1 L/100 km)
hwy: 34 mpg (6.9 L/100 km)

city: 26 mpg (9.0 L/100 km)
hwy: 31 mpg (7.6 L/100 km)

city: 25 mpg (9.4 L/100 km)
hwy: 32 mpg (7.4 L/100 km)

Recommended Fuel:
Pontiac Vibe base:
Pontiac Vibe GT:

87-octane unleaded
92-octane unleaded

Fuel Tank Capacity:

13.2 US gal (50 liters)
11.9 US gal (45 liters)

Engine Oil capacity:
Pontiac Vibe base:
Pontiac Vibe GT:

3.7 quart (3.5 liters)
4.4 quart (4.2 liters)