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2004 Pontiac Vibe Hatchback

4dr HB

Starting at | Starting at 29 MPG City - 36 MPG Highway

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  • $16,605 original MSRP
Printable Version

2004 Pontiac Vibe Hatchback

Printable Version

2004 Pontiac Vibe Hatchback

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2004 Pontiac Vibe

Source: New Car Test Drive

Base Price (MSRP) - $16,605
As Tested (MSRP) - $19,205

Introduction

The Pontiac Vibe offers sporty styling and performance with practical cargo and people-hauling capabilities. This five-door hatchback boasts a roomy interior for front and rear passengers. Its creatively designed cargo compartment features a track system with adjustable tie-down anchors. The seating arrangement is flexible, allowing the driver to flip down the passenger seat when hauling items up to 8-feet long. That seat can be used as a desk for a laptop computer, which can be plugged into the 115-volt electrical outlet.

For the tuner crowd, Pontiac offers the Vibe GT, tuned for performance and dressed to impress. A selection of over-the-counter accessories is available to enhance its look. Vibe comes in wild colors, including Fusion Orange, Lava, Satellite, and Envy. XM Satellite Radio, 17-inch alloy wheels, and a supercharger for the base model have been added to the options list for 2004. All-wheel drive is available for drivers in the snowbelt.

On the road, we found the base model pleasant and comfortable with a hatchback's cargo-hauling versatility. The GT offers more driving excitement, though the high-revving engine doesn't seem at home here.

Vibe was conceived by General Motors and is built to Toyota assembly standards, with Toyota components. (Toyota sells its own version of the car, called the Matrix, with different styling cues.)

 

Model Lineup

Pontiac builds the 2004 Vibe in base ($16,605), AWD ($19,555), and GT ($19,905) versions.

The base Vibe comes with a 130-horsepower four-cylinder engine. A five-speed manual transmission is standard, a four-speed automatic optional ($850). The Vibe comes standard with wind-up windows, manual door locks, and 16-inch steel wheels, but it is otherwise reasonably well equipped with air conditioning; a CD player; a two-prong, household-style 115-volt power outlet (as well as two automotive-style 12-volt outlets); and power mirrors. Anti-lock brakes ($500) are optional.

The all-wheel-drive Vibe (AWD) is similarly equipped, but its engine is de-tuned to 123 horsepower. Anti-lock brakes (ABS) and automatic transmission are standard; no manual transmission is available.

The Vibe GT is a factory-built sport compact with 180 horsepower and a six-speed manual transmission. It also gets four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, 16-inch cast aluminum road wheels, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. No automatic transmission is available.

Side-impact airbags are optional ($575) and come packaged with an alarm system. A Power Group ($750) adds cruise control, power windows, and power door locks with remote keyless entry to all models. The optional Moon and Tunes package ($850) adds a power glass moonroof and 200-watt audio system. An in-dash six-CD changer is also available as a stand-alone option ($325) or as part of a DVD-based navigation system ($1,650). New for 2004 are 17-inch aluminum wheels with 215/50R17 Dunlop all-season tires, XM Satellite Radio, and OnStar telematics.

Also available is a dealer-installed supercharger for the base model that will deliver 7.5 psi of boost for a 35-percent increase in horsepower and torque. The supercharger can be installed on either manual or automatic Vibes, and shares the Vibe's 3 year/36,000 mile warranty.

 

Walkaround

The Pontiac Vibe was designed using a two-box hatchback architecture, which makes for a practical car. To make sure the Vibe wasn't too boxy, however, the overhangs were kept short and more slope was put into to the rear section of the roof. In profile, the Vibe hints at a fastback shape. The encapsulated C-pillars almost look like inverted hockey sticks. And the short overhangs push the wheels out to the corners, improving handling while providing some traditional Pontiac "Wide Track" identity. Body contours were designed to present a muscular, athletic look.

Pontiac hasn't quite broken its habit of surrounding its vehicles with lower-body cladding. But at least the Vibe's bottom fringe is relatively simple, and is available in either low-key charcoal or even less conspicuous body color ($325). We think the charcoal looks best on the all-wheel-drive version, giving it some visual elevation and a more outdoorsy look.

Buyers who want to project more attitude can purchase dealer-installed extensions for the sides and front and rear fascias, plus spoilers for the roof and tailgate. The whole package ($1890) is offered in Salsa, Satellite, or Abyss (those are colors), or primered and ready for your own custom paint.

 

2004 Pontiac Vibe
2004 Pontiac Vibe

Interior Features

The 2004 Pontiac Vibe provides seating for five. Those seats are elevated for a good view of the road. The person at the wheel can gain an even better vantage by using the manual height adjustment of the driver's seat. The driver operates in a cockpit-style environment. We found the handbrake lever awkward, but perhaps ours simply needed an adjustment.

Nice touches went into making the Vibe a pleasant place for driving or even for working: The front passenger's seatback folds flat, so its back can serve as a table for a laptop computer or even a video game system plugged into the 115-volt outlet. Making this setup more convenient are release levers on both sides of the passenger seatback, so the driver can fold it one-handed, while someone standing outside the car on the passenger's side can easily reach in and do the same thing.

The rear seat has room for at least two full-size adults, and is split 60/40. With both rear seatbacks and the front passenger seat folded down, Vibe provides a perfectly flat cargo area shaped like Utah and almost as large: 8 feet from the rear hatch to the right half of the dashboard. With all seats folded, the Vibe can carry 54 cubic feet of cargo, which can be secured by using the numerous tie-downs, including those that lock into position in a clever pair of tracks in the rear cargo floor. Those tracks are also built into the rear seatbacks, so when the seats are folded down they extend the full length of the rear cargo floor. The hard finish used in the cargo area makes for easy cleanup, great for dealing with muddy equipment or wet dogs. However, this same hard finish means cargo that isn't secured tends to slide around; we recommend getting a rubber mat or purchasing some of Pontiac's accessories to handle this situation: Pontiac offers a cargo net system ($35), cargo box ($95), and heavy-duty cargo mat ($50) for the luggage bay. An optional seatback pack ($80) attaches to the front seatback and includes a first-aid kit.

All told, the Vibe provides nearly a dozen interior storage containers, nine of which keep contents out of view. There's even a compartment behind the base of the back seat, where an umbrella or fishing rods can be kept in a covered pocket. The rear window on the Vibe's hatchback opens independently, so you can reach your stuff without having to open the entire hatch.

XM Satellite Radio ($325) is a great option for long-distance traveling because the stations don't change as you drive across the country. XM Satellite Radio is nice to have around town for listening to the 24-hour news and sports broadcasts, or for staying tuned into your favorite types of music (classical, jazz, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s).

The optional DVD-based navigation system works well and has a split-screen feature so you can see both the detail of your immediate locale as well as your location in relation to a larger, metropolitan area. However, it isn't cheap ($1,650).

OnStar works as a navigation system because there's nothing to program. Press the button and a human operator responds, to provide directions and other assistance. OnStar always knows the location of your vehicle. The staff will notify authorities of your location if your airbag goes off and you do not respond to their calls. Or you can press the emergency button and they'll send out the troops. They can unlock your doors if you lock the keys inside. They can direct you to the nearest gas station or help find a good restaurant or motel. If your vehicle is stolen, OnStar can pinpoint its location and direct the authorities to apprehend and recover.

 

2004 Pontiac Vibe

Driving Impressions

The standard Pontiac Vibe is no pocket rocket, but comports itself well. The 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine features Toyota's variable valve timing (VVT-i) technology and produces 130 horsepower at 6000 rpm and 125 pounds-feet of torque at 4200 rpm. The Vibe's engine was a little noisy under acceleration, but the drivetrain quieted nicely at cruising speeds.

The five-speed manual transmission lets the driver extract the full measure of the engine's power. Making shifting easier is the way the shifter is mounted in an extension of the dashboard, instead of in a center console. Your right hand falls easily from the steering wheel directly onto the shift lever.

The Pontiac Vibe is built on the new Toyota Corolla platform. With this solid chassis, engineers were able to do a good job of sound insulation and ride control. Pontiac said one engineering target for the Vibe was to build a small car in which people could ride comfortably for several hours. We were comfortable after spending a full day in the Vibe.

Enhancing the experience are controls that are easy to reach and use. Audio controls are located at the top of the center stack. Three big dials are used to control the heating/air-conditioning system.

The Vibe AWD model with the automatic isn't as quick as the front-drive model with the manual gearbox, but it responded nicely when we needed it to kick down for passing or for pulling onto freeways. On the downside, the AWD model gets slightly lower fuel economy and has a smaller fuel tank than the five-speed base model. The all-wheel-drive system is made up of lightweight aluminum components, so a Vibe AWD weighs just 198 pounds more than a base model with automatic transmission. Under normal conditions the system drives the front wheels only, but a viscous coupling can send up to 50 percent of the driving torque rearward if the front wheels start slipping. Pontiac expects 10 percent of Vibe buyers to opt for this model.

The Vibe GT qualifies for pocket-rocket status. Pontiac says the Vibe GT will sprint from 0 to 60 mph in less than 8.5 seconds, compared to 9 or 10 seconds for the base car and 11.5 for the AWD. The division expects 13 percent to choose the GT.

The GT's engine also displaces 1.8 liters, but they are arranged a different way. A massage by the performance mavens at Yamaha shortened the stroke while increasing the bore. Compression is boosted from 10.0 to 11.5:1 (requiring premium fuel), and the engine computer regulates valve lift as well as timing, a setup called VVTL-i. The payback is 180 horsepower at 7600 rpm and 130 pounds-feet of torque at 6800. (By comparison, Ford's much-acclaimed Focus SVT produces 170 horsepower and 145 pounds-feet.) The Vibe GT engine is the same unit that powers Toyota's Celica GTS, but in the Pontiac it comes with room for four people and their stuff.

Rev the Vibe GT to 6000 rpm, and the VVTL-i system kicks in a higher-lift, longer-duration cam lobe. It feels like a turbocharger that's spooling up and pumping air, or like lighting the afterburners. We drove the car hard and fast on canyon roads west of Los Angeles, where we found it quick, stable and predictable. We also liked the exhaust note. The engine seems an odd match for this wagon, though. It seems like it would be better in a sporty compact. At times, we wondered what this little wagon was trying to be. The suspension felt too firm and bouncy for hauling fragile items or pets.

Coupled to the Vibe GT's engine is a six-speed manual gearbox. The GT rides on the same twist-beam rear axle as the base model, but gets four-wheel disc brakes and ABS.

 

2004 Pontiac Vibe

Summary

The Pontiac Vibe features an innovative cargo system and boasts household current to run laptops and other appliances. Vibe also boasts Toyota build quality. Vibe offers an extensive list of standard equipment in all three models, though power windows and door locks are extra-cost options.

The standard model seems the smartest buy. The Vibe AWD is a sporty hatchback for the Snow Belt; its price is considerably higher, but includes all-wheel drive, an automatic transmission and anti-lock brakes. We found the Vibe GT less compelling. It's nearly $3,000 more than the base model and the engine and suspension tuning are not conducive to pleasant motoring around town, lacking the drivability of high-performance models from Subaru.


Model Line Overview

Base Price (MSRP) $16,605
As Tested (MSRP) $19,205

Model lineup: Pontica Vibe ($16,605); Vibe AWD ($19,555); Vibe GT ($19,905)
Engines: 1.8-liter dohc 16-valve inline-4
Transmissions: 5-speed manual
Safety equipment (Standard): front airbags, driver and front passenger height-adjustable shoulder belts with pretensioners and force limiters, shoulder belts for all three rear-seat passengers, child safety rear door locks, LATCH child safety seat system
Safety equipment (Optional): ABS, side-impact airbags
Basic warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles
Assembled in: Fremont, California

Specifications As Tested

Model tested (MSRP): Pontiac Vibe ($16,605)
Standard equipment: air conditioning, AM/FM stereo with CD player, 205/55R-16 all-season tires, height-adjustable driver's seat, one-touch fold flat rear seats, fold-flat front passenger seat, rear cargo track system with adjustable tie-downs, cargo security cover, nine storage compartments, rear liftgate with separate-opening glass, mobile phone holder, tachometer, outside temperature monitor, carpeted floor mats, variable intermittent wipers, daytime running lights with twilight sentinel, fog lamps, power mirrors, roof rack, two-prong household-style power outlet, two 12-volt automotive-style outlets
Options as tested: Power Group ($750) includes power door locks, remote entry, power windows, cruise control; Moons and Tunes package ($850) includes power glass sunroof and 200-watt premium audio system with six speakers; 16-inch alloy wheels ($440)
Destination charge: 560
Gas Guzzler Tax: N/A
Layout: front-wheel drive
Engine (Optional): 130-hp 1.8-liter dohc 16-valve inline-4; 123-hp 1.8-liter dohc 16-valve inline-4; 180-hp 1.8-liter dohc 16-valve inline-4
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 130 @ 6000
Torque(lb.-ft. @ rpm): 125 @ 4200
EPA fuel economy, city/hwy: 29/36 mpg
Transmission (Optional): 5-speed manual; 4-speed automatic; 6-speed manual
Wheelbase: 102.4 in.
Length/width/height: 171.9/69.9/62.2 in.
Track, f/r: 59.6/58.9 in.
Turning circle: 36.7 ft.
Seating capacity: 5
Head/hip/leg room, f: 40.6/51.7/41.8 in.
Head/hip/leg room, r: 39.8/47.8/36.3 in.
Cargo volume: 54.1 cu. ft.
Payload N/A
Suspension F: independent, MacPherson struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar
Suspension R: torsion beam axle with trailing link, coil springs, anti-roll bar
Ground Clearance: 5.9 in.
Curb weight: 2701 Lbs.
Towing capacity: 1500 Lbs.
Tires: P205/55R16
Brakes, f/r: disc/drum
Fuel capacity: 13.2 gal.

Unless otherwise indicated, specifications refer to test vehicle.
All prices are manufacturer's suggested retail prices (MSRP) effective as of 03/Oct/2003.
Prices do not include manufacturer's destination and delivery charges. N/A: Information not available or not applicable.
Manufacturer Info Sources: 1-800-762-2737 - www.pontiac.com


Copyright © 1994-2003 New Car Test Drive

Printable Version

2004 Pontiac Vibe Hatchback

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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Rollover Resistance
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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 Opt

Passenger Restraint

Driver Air Bag Std
Passenger Air Bag Std
Side Air Bag Opt
Child Safety Locks Std

Road Visibility

Daytime Running Lights Std
Fog Lamps Std
Intermittent Wipers Std

Security

Alarm Opt
Printable Version

2004 Pontiac Vibe Hatchback

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.

Miles

Months

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

2004 Pontiac Vibe Hatchback

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