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1995 Pontiac Sunfire Sedan

4dr Sedan SE

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  • $11,394 original MSRP

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Printable Version

1995 Pontiac Sunfire Sedan

Printable Version

1995 Pontiac Sunfire Sedan

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1995 Pontiac Sunfire

Source: New Car Test Drive

Overview

Our new 1995 Pontiac Sunfire had barely tooled into the downtown parking lot when two Generation X guys ran across the street to get a closer look. These young men, precisely the target audience for the Sunfire, were bowled over by the vehicle's look.

The amount of attention a new car draws is a good barometer for how well the designers did their job. It appears Pontiac designers were right on target with the Sunfire, a car clearly inspired by its stablemate, the Firebird.

The Sunfire replaces the 13-year-old Sunbird. Pontiac officials felt the car was so different from its predecessor that it deserved a new name. The Sunfire's cousin from Chevrolet, the Cavalier, has also been dramatically redesigned for 1995, but Chevrolet opted to retain the name.

For now, the Sunfire is available only as the SE sedan and the SE coupe. In mid-1995, Pontiac will add an SE convertible and GT coupe to the lineup. The GT coupe will be outfitted in Pontiac's characteristic racer look with dual exhausts, spoiler, black roof treatment and a revised 2.3-liter DOHC 16-valve Quad 4 engine.

Our test car, an SE coupe that goes for $13,550, came with air conditioning, cruise control, power windows and door locks, and an effective 3-speed automatic transmission.

Walkaround

The design concept behind the Sunfire was to provide the same fun-to-drive feel and signature styling as Pontiac's larger cars, but in a small, affordable package. (According to EPA ratings, the sedan is considered a compact, the coupe and convertible are subcompacts.)

Another mission Pontiac designers had was to make the sedan as sporty looking as the coupe so that buyers - particularly young families - could enjoy the advantage of 4-door utility without sacrificing exciting coupe styling. Pontiac officials are convinced they have succeeded on this count and have bet that the sedan will attract a larger audience than it had as the Sunbird, when it was far outsold by the coupe.

The sleek, rounded aerodynamic exterior features dual breakaway outside mirrors, standard tinted glass and sharp bodyside moldings. And the Sunfire is available in nine colors, among them Bright Red and Bright Aqua Metallic.

The Sunfire SE coupe and sedan come standard with a 2.2-liter 4-cylinder engine paired with a 5-speed manual transmission. The engine is rated at 120 hp, which compares well with the base Plymouth Neon powerplant, rated at 132 hp. And the sunfire's horsepower output is higher than the Ford Escort LX's, rated at 88 hp, and the Saturn SC1 coupe's, at 100 hp.

However, the Sunfire is more than just looks and performance. The car's body features a steel safety cage that surrounds the passenger compartment, energy-absorbing metal rails that frame the engine and trunk compartments, and side-impact door beams.

Interior Features

Inside, the Sunfire provides a spacious and attractive interior. Although the Neon and Escort both offer more cubic feet of interior space, the Sunfire seems surprisingly roomy and comfortable.

Pontiac designers have greatly reduced the number of pieces used on the dashboard in contrast to the often ill-fitting jigsaw look of many General Motors models. Still, the patchwork appearance lingers on the console that encases the gear shifter, giving it a busy appearance.

The materials used on the dashboard are a marked improvement over other GM models as well, with plastics appearing soft and muted. The interior is attractively broken up by insets in the door that match the fabric of the seats.

The Sunfire could use thicker foam in the bottom cushion of the driver's seat. But rear-seat passengers on our test drive reported that for short trips, seating was quite adequate in regards to comfort and legroom for a small car. A fold-down seat in the rear is standard and greatly expands the usable cargo space in this vehicle. With the rear seatback folded down, skis or surfboards can be carried in the Sunfire with the trunk lid closed.

We did discover one obvious flaw with the seats. Upon quick braking, the passenger seatback, when unoccupied, flopped forward. (Incidentally, the same situation occurred on our recent test drive of a Pontiac Grand Am.)

Storage is plentiful in the Sunfire. The trophy-size glove box sets new records for roominess, with enough space to accommodate a 12-pack of cola and a bag of ice to keep it cold. However, when we tried to close said glove box it took three tries - it's not as sturdy as it is big.

The center console armrest features a deep storage bin suitable for cassettes; the parking brake is mounted next to this handy standard feature.

When the ashtray is removed from the front console, the leftover space becomes a cupholder for the front-seat passenger. The ashtray can then be installed in a rear cupholder or removed altogether.

Pockets in the door, however, are useless because they are positioned so far back that they are difficult for front-seat passengers to reach when the doors are closed.

We think a few tactile elements of the Sunfire could be refined. The directional controls for the vents, for example, are incredibly small, making them hard to grip.

To the other extreme, the armrests on the doors are fat, making them hard to grip when closing the doors. Also, the plastic strap mechanism to pull the seat forward is too thin and dainty, and the door levers are small and wimpy. Both, like the aforementioned glove box, give the impression they will break easily.

As for safety equipment, the Sunfire is equipped with standard dual airbags and 4-wheel anti-lock brakes. For families, the Sunfire comes with comfort guides on the safety belts to adjust them better for children. Childproof rear door locks are also standard on the sedan.

Driving Impressions

The 4-cylinder engine in our SE coupe test car emitted more noise than we thought even a Pontiac should have, and we usually like the distinctive rumble of Pontiac engines.

Also, the optional 3-speed automatic transmission was imprecise. The markings to indicate which drive level you are in don't match up with what gear you are using. We often found ourselves in second rather than the intended third. The 5-speed manual would be preferable for a sportier feel, and Pontiac assured us that an early test model of the 5-speed shifter we drove, which was annoyingly notchy and vague, is in the process of being refined.

The ride is characteristic of Pontiacs: firm but not stiff. The steering, also being improved according to GM, is too light for a Pontiac. Our test car was slow to respond to the variety of standard maneuvers we put it through.

In the spring, our wishes for more horsepower and improved transmissions will come true. The Sunfire GT coupe will be available with a revised 2.3-liter 16-valve DOHC Quad 4 engine. The 150-hp engine can be paired with a standard 5-speed manual or an optional 4-speed 4T40-E automatic transmission that features an integrated powertrain control module for more precise shifting.

Summary

The Pontiac Sunfire represents a significant improvement over the Sunbird it replaces. The ride and handling are vastly superior and the styling is flashier. But it needs refinement. The current automatic transmission is less than ideal, seating is a bit uncomfortable and some of the interior elements are not exactly sturdy.

In looks, it's a baby Firebird for a fraction of the price. But for now, it only has a fraction of the Firebird's performance.

Model Line Overview
Base Price (MSRP)
$11,559
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Specifications As Tested
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$13,550
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Printable Version

1995 Pontiac Sunfire Sedan

Safety Features & Equipment

Braking & Traction

4-Wheel ABS Std
Traction/Stability Control Opt

Passenger Restraint

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

Road Visibility

Intermittent Wipers Std
Printable Version

1995 Pontiac Sunfire Sedan

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

1995 Pontiac Sunfire Sedan

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