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2001 Pontiac Sunfire Coupe

2dr Cpe SE

Starting at | Starting at 22 MPG City - 32 MPG Highway

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  • $14,250 original MSRP
Printable Version

2001 Pontiac Sunfire Coupe

Printable Version

2001 Pontiac Sunfire Coupe

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2001 Pontiac Sunfire

Source: New Car Test Drive

Low price, stylish body.

by Mitch McCullough

Base Price (MSRP) $14,175
As Tested (MSRP) $18,970

Pontiac's Sunfire offers wild styling with good fuel economy and a low price of entry. The Sunfire is easy to drive and fun to drive quickly, particularly with the available 150-horsepower twin-cam engine.

Model Lineup

Two body styles are available: four-door sedan and two-door coupe. Coupes are available in SE and GT trim. The sedan comes only in SE trim.

The coupes are more fun, but the SE Sedan offers more practicality with a roomier back seat and a larger trunk.

Retail prices: SE Sedan ($14,430); SE Coupe ($14,175); GT Coupe ($16,295).

Two four-cylinder engines are available, a 115-horsepower 2.2-liter and a sporty 150-horsepower 2.4-liter twin-cam. The Twin Cam comes standard on the GT Coupe; it can be added to SE models for $450, but requires purchase of the 1SC Option Group ($1865 for SE Coupes, $1905 for SE Sedans).

Three-speed and four-speed automatics are available along with a five-speed manual gearbox from Getrag.

Last year's convertible model has been discontinued.

Walkaround

Pontiac revised the styling of the 2000 Sunfire, so changes to the 2001 model are minimal. Integral fog lamps are standard on the GT coupe and give it a sportier appearance. Rounded turn signals integrated into the front fascia are used on the SE models. Side ribs and rocker panel moldings on the SE models add some surface excitement for a more aggressive look. The rear fascia with rounded backup lamps is similar to those on the Grand Am, and reinforces the Pontiac brand. A rear decklid spoiler is now standard on all Sunfire models.

Overall, the Pontiac Sunfire offers a sportier look than the mechanically similar Chevy Cavalier.

Interior Features

Sunfire's sporty exterior theme is continued inside the cabin. The instrument panel has an attractive appearance, and includes a digital LCD odometer and trip odometer, a tachometer and a coolant temperature gauge.

The floor console provides great functionality and includes a padded armrest. Other interior features include two forward-mounted cupholders, a concealed coin holder, and extra storage space for CDs, cassettes and other items.

A leather-wrapped steering wheel, shift knob and parking brake handle are standard on GT models. Radio and HVAC controls are angled toward the driver. The steering wheel can be equipped with convenient stereo controls that reduce the driver's need to take his or her eyes off the road. The cloth on the SE's seats and door trim provide a vibrant appearance.

Lots of glass and effective mirrors provide good visibility; you only see a little bit of the sharply slanted hood. Most drivers and passengers should find plenty of interior room. Getting in and out of the Sunfire coupe is easier than many other coupes.

Sunfire's relatively short deck lid conceals slightly more than 12 cubic feet of trunk space, easily accessed with a low lift-over height.

The PASSlock theft deterrent system that comes on all Sunfire models shuts the car off after a few moments if it is started with anything other than the encoded key. A single key is used for ignition and all locks, and a remote keyless entry system is optional.

All Sunfires are equipped with daytime running lights. Whenever the ignition is on and the handbrake is released or the automatic transmission is shifted out of park, the headlights will be on at reduced power. The normal headlights can be switched on manually or by using Pontiac's Twilight Sentinel system, turning the lights on and off automatically as it senses the amount of available light.

The Sunfire is offered with a fine line of sound systems. The entry-level stereo now includes an AM/FM radio and cassette deck. A retained accessory feature allows the radio to remain powered for 10 minutes after the power is switched off or until the driver's door is opened.

A 200-watt Monsoon premium audio system is optional. Using six speakers, the system is tuned specifically for the Sunfire's acoustical environment and is capable of completely drenching its occupants with sound. Crisp bass response and clear high frequencies make for great sound. It's a bargain at $195.

Driving Impressions

The Sunfire is easy to drive and fun to drive quickly. It hangs on confidently in fast corners and stays poised and predictable. It is balanced well, exhibiting surprisingly little understeer for a front-wheel-drive car. The GT seems at its best in transient, or slalom-type, maneuvers. You can really throw it around. Our only quibble with its handling is the unassisted steering that is a little slow.

The chassis and suspension and steering combine to produce an exceptional blend of ride and handling, and the car projects a secure feeling of stability and solidity. The suspension is composed of MacPherson struts up front and a twist beam axle in the rear. It's not as sophisticated as the suspensions in some of the other cars in this class, but it gets the job done. Power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering gives the Sunfire quick steering response and good on-center feel. At the same time, the Sunfire's body rigidity provides a ride that's firm and confident at higher speeds. And it's quiet. Standard on the GT Coupe are P205/55 performance tires on 16-inch aluminum alloy wheels.

With the 2.4-liter 16-valve Twin Cam engine, the GT Coupe provides comparable power to a Honda Civic or Dodge Neon. It raises the Sunfire's performance from the realm of acceptable to spirited. It earns an EPA rating of 22/33 mpg city/highway.

What the smaller engine has to offer is economy: It comes standard on the SE models. When combined with the standard five-speed transmission, the 2.2-liter engine gets an EPA-rated 23 mpg in the city and 33 mph on the highway, just slightly better than the more sophisticated twin-cam engine.

Transmission choices include a 5-speed manual, a 3-speed automatic and a 4-speed automatic. Built by renowned German transmission manufacturer Getrag, the 5-speed manual gearbox features decent shift feel and a synchronized reverse gear for easier engagement. A cable shift linkage aids shifting, while a reverse lockout mechanism makes for a good safety feature. The Getrag five-speed is standard on the coupe and sedan. The 4-speed automatic is available for all models and offers much better gearing than the base 3-speed automatic.

Sunfire comes with disc brakes in front, drum brakes in the rear. An anti-lock braking system (ABS) is standard. The Sunfire's brake components are designed to optimize wheel slip control, reduce noise, improve pedal feel and contribute to reduced weight. However, it is not as sophisticated as the braking systems found on more expensive cars, and overall braking performance is average.

Final Word

Pontiac Sunfire offers buyers sporty, expressive styling and performance in an affordably priced, American-built car. Sunfire models appeal to a wide range of car enthusiasts, from economy sport sedan buyers to those interested in more intimate coupes.

Its low entry price makes the Sunfire GT Coupe a good value in the competitive coupe market.

© New Car Test Drive, Inc.

Printable Version

2001 Pontiac Sunfire 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
Intermittent Wipers Std

Security

Alarm Opt
Anti-theft System Std
Printable Version

2001 Pontiac Sunfire 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

2001 Pontiac Sunfire Coupe

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