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2002 Pontiac Firebird Coupe

2dr Cpe Formula

Starting at | Starting at 18 MPG City - 26 MPG Highway

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  • $25,995 original MSRP
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2002 Pontiac Firebird Coupe

Printable Version

2002 Pontiac Firebird Coupe

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2002 Pontiac Firebird

Source: New Car Test Drive

Introduction

The age of the dinosaurs finally has come to a close. The 2002 model year is the last for Pontiac's fabled Firebird. (The same is true for its close cousin, the Chevrolet Camaro.)

But this front-engine, rear-drive scorcher isn't going away without a final flourish. There's a special Collector Yellow edition that features the famed screaming chicken graphics package.

Model Lineup

Pontiac Firebird is available in coupe and convertible body styles and in three models: Firebird, Formula and Trans Am.

Firebird coupe ($19,920) and convertible ($26,835) come with a 200-horsepower 3.8-liter V6 engine. The coupe has a five-speed manual transmission or optional four-speed automatic. The convertible comes with the automatic as standard equipment.

Formula Coupe ($25,865) and Trans Am coupe ($27,895) and convertible ($31,965) are powered by a 310-horsepower 5.7-liter V8 engine, with a 325-horsepower WS6 Ram Air option available. They all have the four-speed automatic transmission as standard equipment, but can be equipped with a six-speed manual gearbox.

New for its final year, all Firebirds come with a power antenna, remote mirrors, automatic door locks and power windows with express down function on the driver's side. Standard equipment already included air conditioning, a full-length center console, cruise control, electric rear window defroster, fog lights, power hatch release, concealed quartz halogen headlights, an AM/FM audio system with CD player, rear spoiler, power steering, tachometer and 235/55 tires on 16-inch cast-aluminum wheels. Firebirds with V8 engines also get a power steering cooler.

For 2002, Formula Coupes have a standard removable hatch roof with sunshades, remote keyless entry, six-way power driver's seat and audible theft deterrent system.

Compared with the base Firebird, the Formula also adds speed-rated tires, performance suspension tuning, and a Monsoon CD sound system with 10 speakers. The Trans Am gets further standard equipment, including the removable roof panels and a special spoiler on the coupe, and leather seats with six-way power adjustment for the driver.

New for 2002 is the Trans Am Collector Edition (about $4,100) boasting bold yellow paint and screaming chicken graphics that start on the hood and wrap themselves around the car's doors and rear quarter panels. The rear fascia gets a yellow and black treatment. Hatch top versions get a special black roof halo and convertibles get a black top. Inside, seats are wrapped in ebony leather and have embroidered headrests, floor mats and trophy shelf mat. The package includes black-painted wheels and black anodized front and rear brake calipers and black painted axles. To get the Collector Edition, you'll have to equip your Trans Am with the WS6 Ram Air and handling package.

The WS6 Ram Air and handling package ($3,290) includes Ram air induction, 17-inch wheels, Goodyear Eagle F1 tires, special low-restriction exhaust, a power steering cooler and tuned suspension.

Walkaround

Even without that screaming yellow chicken, few cars have the visual impact of a WS-6 Trans Am. With its big bulges and long hood, the Trans Am always draws stares and comments. There are actually four nostrils for the Ram Air intake, two flared ones and two more gaps where the hood meets the rest of the nose. Fat chrome tips to the twin exhaust come out of tunnels under the rear bumper that look like an exotic racing car ground-effects undertray.

The Trans Am also features some of the usual Pontiac styling touches, including hundreds of hexagons in the taillights that suggest a fly's eyeballs. The 17-inch, five-spoke aluminum wheels are so polished they appear to be chrome, and they are wrapped with wide P275/40ZR17 tires rated for extremely high sustained speeds.

There are other flares, scoops, styling grooves and bulges, which are probably considered uncool by your Lexus owner, but they are a Trans Am tradition and not out of place on this car. There are functional louvers behind the front wheels, for the release of hot air from the engine compartment.

The wing on the convertible is more like a platform over the entire rear deck; it begins just behind the side windows, and it might even offer downforce to keep the car from floating should you ever run it in the 130-mph range, which we certainly don't suggest. With its incredibly tall sixth-gear ratio, the engine would be rumbling at less than 3000 rpm at that speed.

Interior Features

From the inside, you feel like you're in a racing car, as the low seating position and faraway unseen corners make judging near distances difficult. However, with so many adjustments to the driver's seat and steering wheel, this can be improved.

The convertible top, though handsome, is wide behind the side windows, creating a big blind spot that further complicates parallel parking; the glass rear window is small as well. But the power top operates easily. A tonneau cover takes up precious limited trunk space, and thus will be left in the garage by many owners.

Not surprisingly, the rear seats offer little legroom and almost no visibility. The convertible top is a tradeoff in the rear compartment; it steals 2.2 inches of hip room, but gives back 4.2 inches of headroom.

The front bucket seats are intelligently shaped and comfortable for long distances; they aren't difficult to climb into and out of, considering how low to the ground they are, but the front doors do scrape on sidewalks. The driver will probably wish he had a steering wheel with a larger diameter, more in keeping with the muscle car theme, and more suited to the excellent handling. It tilts into a good position, allowing visibility over the top without hitting the knees of an average-sized person.

An extra set of sound system controls is located on the steering wheel. Sounds are a high priority for Pontiac, and even the convertible comes standard with an eight-speaker CD system. There's a big fixed cupholder behind the shift lever, which has a stylish leather knob. There's a tidy compartment between the seats, and other storage spots exist in the doors and behind the front seats.

Driving Impressions

The engine in the base Coupe or Convertible is the 3800 (3.8-liter) V6, yielding 200 horsepower and 225 foot-pounds of torque. The 5.7-liter V8 (overhead-valve LS1 with aluminum cylinder block and heads) comes in the Formula and Trans Am in two versions: 310 horsepower and 340 foot-pounds of torque or, with the WS-6 Ram Air package, 325 horsepower and 350 foot-pounds of torque.

Driving relatively easily, the Trans Am is a gem. Macho drivers, and there will be plenty with the WS-6, will abuse the car and push it to its limits, but when it's driven reasonably and within the law, it is highly rewarding and not the least bit uncomfortable or difficult.

The biggest problem is the perception of size, from behind the wheel, though drivers of smaller stature find it manageable.

The power steering is not heavy, but it is a compromise; it's not as light as most sedans for parking. At speed, the steering is direct and steady, no roaming or twitching at all, both in the curves and on the freeway.

Cowl shake has been a bugaboo with Firebird and Camaro convertibles, given the lack of chassis stiffness without a steel roof and a suspension that isn't designed to simply soak up bumps. During our test over fairly smooth roads, the cowl never reared its shaking head. This is a significant advancement, a true character change.

The suspension performed admirably. Never once were we jarred, which is saying quite a lot. And never once did we feel the car undulating, even slightly. We suspect that extremes in both road conditions and driving aggression could indeed produce those responses from this Trans Am, at least we hope so, because the suspension wouldn't be correct if they didn't. All Firebird models received re-valved shock absorbers for the 2001 model year.

The six-speed gearbox with Hurst linkage feels solid, though not quite buttery. It might be overstating things to call it quirky, but it requires some understanding. The pattern is closely spaced for quick shifting, which means you sometimes find yourself in third gear instead of first, when pulling out. There is a lockout of second gear at certain rpm and at a certain pace of acceleration designed to save gas for EPA ratings. Accelerating slowly causes the computer to force you to shift from first gear into fourth. Basically, it won't let you drive sharply and casually at the same time. You either accept it or you learn how to get around it. There is a way to get into second gear, when you want to; we could explain, but it would take two paragraphs. The good news is there's so much torque that you actually can go from first to fourth gear, even at a tame 2500 rpm, without bogging the engine.

Sixth gear will save you more gas, because the ratio is so tall. It might also get you a ticket. Sixty-eight miles per hour is only about 1500 rpm, and because there is so little engine compression to slow you down when you lift off the throttle in sixth gear, the car wants to keep rolling on into the 70s and 80s. With such low rpm, you don't hear it or feel it. You really need to use cruise control in sixth. On an open highway, it does indeed save gas.

As for power, well, you've got 325 horsepower with the Ram Air system to go with the manual transmission. It's smooth, not really neck-snapping, and the exhaust note is deep but not loud. It's as much power as you'll ever need, and probably as much as you'll ever want, but it's not scary. It's eminently controllable.

Pulling away in first gear does call for some attention, however. It's easy to stall the engine if you're too casual with throttle application, especially at red lights on the steep streets of San Francisco.

Summary

Trans Am is no BMW, but it's a better car than many people realize. You just have to appreciate it for what it is, a brutally fast pony car.


Model Line Overview

Model lineup: Firebird coupe ($19,515), convertible ($26,430); Formula coupe ($25,460); Trans Am coupe ($27,490), convertible ($31,560)
Engines: 3.8-liter V6; 5.7-liter V8
Transmissions: four-speed automatic; five-speed manual; six-speed manual
Safety equipment (standard): ABS, dual air bags
Safety equipment (optional): N/A
Basic warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles
Assembled in: Boisbriand, Quebec

Specifications As Tested

Model tested (MSRP): Trans Am Convertible ($31,560)
Standard equipment: ABS air conditioning, cruise control, fog lights, AM/FM/CD, rear spoiler, tilt steering column, cast aluminum wheels; Formula adds power locks, Monsoon stereo, leather-wrapped steering wheel with radio controls, power windows; Trans Am adds appearance package, remote keyless entry, removable roof hatch, six-way power driver's seat, leather seating surfaces
Options as tested (MSRP): WS6 Ram Air Performance and Handling Package ($3,290) includes ram air induction system, functional air scoops, special 17-inch polished aluminum wheels, P275/40ZR17 tires, low-restriction dual exhaust, power steering cooler; traction control ($450); Hurst shifter ($325)
Destination charge: ($575)
Gas guzzler tax: N/A
Price as tested (MSRP): $ 36,200
Layout: rear-wheel drive
Engine: 5.7-liter V8
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 325 @ 5200
Torque (lb.-ft. @ rpm): 350 @ 4000
Transmission: six-speed manual
EPA fuel economy, city/hwy: 18/26 mpg
Wheelbase: 101.1 in.
Length/width/height: 193.7/74.4/51.8 in.
Track, f/r: 60.7/60.6 in.
Turning circle: 37.8 ft.
Seating capacity: 4
Head/hip/leg room, f: 38.7/52.8/43.0 in.
Head/hip/leg room, m: N/A
Head/hip/leg room, r: 39.4/43.7/28.8 in.
Trunk volume: 12.9 cu. ft.
Payload: N/A
Towing capacity: 1000 Lbs.
Suspension, f: coil-over shocks, multi-link with stabilizer bar
Suspension, r: Salisbury axle with coil springs, torque arm, trailing arm, track bar and stabilizer bar
Ground clearance: 4.5 in.
Curb weight: 3514 lbs.
Tires: P275/40ZR17
Brakes, f/r: vented disc/vented disc with ABS
Fuel capacity: 16.8 gal.

Unless otherwise indicated, specifications refer to test vehicle.
All prices are manufacturer's suggested retail prices (MSRP) effective as of December 21, 2001.
Prices do not include manufacturer's destination and delivery charges.

N/A: Information not available or not applicable.
Manufacturer Info Sources: 1-800-276-6842 - www.pontiac.com

Copyright © 1994-2003 New Car Test Drive, Inc.

Printable Version

2002 Pontiac Firebird Coupe

Safety Ratings help

What do the Safety Ratings mean?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) performs independent crash testing of new vehicles and then assigns them a score based on their performance. The overall crash test rating is based on how a vehicle performs in the following tests:

Driver Crash Grade:

Measures the chance of a serious injury to a crash test dummy that is placed in a driver's seat and driven into a fixed barrier at 35 MPH. A five-star rating means there is 10 percent or less chance of injury.

Passenger Crash Grade:

Similar to the driver crash grade, only now the focus is on the passenger.

Rollover Resistance:

Simulates an emergency lane change to measure the likelihood of a vehicle rolling over. A five-star rating means there is 10 percent or less risk of rollover.

Side Impact Crash Test - Front:

Focuses on the front side of a vehicle. It simulates crashes that can occur in intersections by striking a 3,015-pound weight against the side of a vehicle at 38.5 MPH. A five-star rating means there is 5 percent or less chance of injury.

Side Impact Crash Test - Rear:

Similar to the front side impact test only now the focus is on the rear passenger.

Driver Crash Grade
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Passenger Crash Grade
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Side Impact Crash Test - Front
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Side Impact Crash Test - Rear
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Safety Features & Equipment

Braking & Traction

4-Wheel ABS Std
Traction/Stability Control Opt

Passenger Restraint

Driver Air Bag Std
Passenger Air Bag Std

Road Visibility

Daytime Running Lights Std
Fog Lamps Opt
Intermittent Wipers Std
Printable Version

2002 Pontiac Firebird Coupe

Original Warranty  help
Original Warranty
An original warranty is the warranty associated with a vehicle when it is brand new. In addition to the original warranty, select items, like tires, are typically covered by respective manufacturers. Also, an act of Federal law sometimes provides protection for certain components, like emissions equipment.
The original warranty is often broken down into multiple sections, including:
Basic Warranty:
Typically covers everything except for parts that wear out through normal use of the vehicle. Examples of non-covered items are brake pads, wiper blades and filters.
Drivetrain Warranty:
This warranty covers items the basic warranty does not protect. Wear and tear items such as hoses will not be covered, but key items like the engine, transmission, drive axles and driveshaft often will be.
Roadside Assistance:
The level of service differs greatly with this warranty, but many manufacturers offer a toll-free number that helps provide assistance in case you run out of gas, get a flat tire or lock your keys in the car.
Corrosion Warranty:
This warranty focuses on protecting you from holes caused by rust or corrosion in your vehicle's sheet metal.
Please check the owner's manual, visit a local dealership or look at the manufacturer's website to learn more about the specifics of the warranties that apply to a vehicle.

Basic 3 Years/36,000 Miles
Drivetrain 3 Years/36,000 Miles
Corrosion 6 Years/100,000 Miles
Roadside Assistance 3 Years/36,000 Miles

Pontiac Certified Pre-Owned Warranty  help
Certified Pre-Owned Warranty
To be eligible for Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) status, vehicles generally must be recent models with relatively low mileage. CPO vehicles must also pass a detailed inspection, outlined by the manufacturer, which is measured by the number of inspected points.
Warranty coverage can vary from one manufacturer to the next. While most certified pre-owned programs transfer and extend the existing new car warranty terms, others offer a warranty that simply represents an additional year and mileage value. Always check with the manufacturer for the specific warranties they offer.
Common features and benefits of Certified Pre-Owned warranties include:
Age/Mileage Eligibility
To even be considered for certification, a car must be a recent model year and have limited mileage. The exact requirements are established by individual manufacturers.
Lease Term Certified
Some manufacturers offer certified pre-owned cars for lease. The length of the lease is often shorter than a new car lease, but it will cost you less.
Point Inspection
These inspections entail a comprehensive vehicle test to ensure that all parts are in excellent working order. The point inspection list is simply a numbered list of exactly what parts of the car are examined. While many inspections range from a 70- to 150-point checklist, most are very similar and are performed using strict guidelines. Ask your local dealer about specific details.
Return/Exchange Program
Some manufacturers offer a very limited return or exchange period. Find out if you will get the sales tax and licensing/registration fees back should you return or exchange the car.
Roadside Assistance
Most certified pre-owned programs offer free roadside service in case your car breaks down while still under warranty.
Special Financing
Reduced-rate loans are available through many certified pre-owned programs. Manufacturer-backed inspections and warranties help eliminate the risks involved with buying pre-owned, so buyers who qualify can take advantage of the great offers.
Transferable Warranty
When a new car warranty transfers with the certification of the car and remains eligible for the next owner, it is known as a transferable warranty. Once the original transferable warranty expires, an extended warranty takes effect.
Warranty Deductible
This is the amount for which you are responsible when repair work is performed under the warranty. Some manufacturers require a deductible while others don't, so always ask.

2-year/24,000-Mile1 CPO Scheduled Maintenance Plan.

12-Month/12,000-Mile2 Bumper-to-Bumper Limited Warranty.

5-year/100,000-Mile3 Powertrain Limited Warranty

1Covers only scheduled oil changes with filter, tire rotations and 27 point inspections, according to your vehicle's recommended maintenance schedule for up to 2 years or 24,000 miles, whichever comes first. Does not include air filters. Maximum of 4 service events. See participating dealer for other restrictions and complete details.

2Whichever comes first from date of purchase. See participating dealer for limited warranty details.

3Whichever comes first from original in-service date. See participating dealers for limited warranty details.
Age/Mileage Eligibility 2009-2010 model year / Under 75,000 miles
Lease Term Certified No
Point Inspection 172-Point Vehicle Inspection and Reconditioning
Download checklist
Return/Exchange Program 3-Day 150-Mile Satisfaction Guarantee
Roadside Assistance Yes
Transferrable Warranty Yes
Warranty Deductible $0

Learn more about certified pre-owned vehicles

Printable Version

2002 Pontiac Firebird Coupe

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