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2003 Pontiac Sunfire Coupe

2dr Cpe

Starting at | Starting at 25 MPG City - 33 MPG Highway

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  • $14,930 original MSRP
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Printable Version

2003 Pontiac Sunfire Coupe

Printable Version

2003 Pontiac Sunfire Coupe

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2003 Pontiac Sunfire

Source: New Car Test Drive

Introduction

The Pontiac Sunfire is an agile compact coupe that's enjoyable to drive.

Changes improve the Sunfire for 2003. Revised front and rear styling freshens its appearance. GM's 2.2-liter Ecotec engine offers quieter operation, improved efficiency, and substantially more power than last year's base engine. Interior revisions improve comfort and convenience. Optional side airbags and the OnStar telematics system enhance safety. A retuned sports suspension offers quicker responses.

In spite of updates for 2003, it lacks the refinement of some of the latest models from the competition. Its base price looks attractive, but options will likely be needed to add desirable safety and convenience features.

Model Lineup

For 2003, the Pontiac Sunfire is only available as a two-door coupe. One trim level is available, the Sunfire SE ($14,910). It comes standard with air conditioning, power rack-and-pinion steering, and 15-inch tires. A couple of options packages add more features, many of which are available as standalone options.

Sunfire is powered by a 2.2-liter overhead-valve four-cylinder engine rated at 140-horsepower. A five speed manual transmission comes standard. A four-speed automatic transmission is optional. Anti-lock brakes ($400) are optional.

Package 1SB ($1100) adds the automatic transmission, AM/FM/CD audio with six speakers, an easy-entry front passenger seat, a console cupholder, floormats, a tilt steering column, dual vanity visor mirrors.

Package 1SC ($3050) comes with the 1SB equipment, plus anti-lock brakes, Sports Suspension, P205/55R16 tires with aluminum wheels, a cargo convenience net, reading lights, overhead storage, power door locks, remote keyless entry, content theft alarm, XM satellite radio with RDS and equalizer, digital clock, leather-wrapped steering wheel, leather wrapped shift knob and parking brake handle, driver lumbar adjuster, intermittent wet-arm wipers.

Walkaround

The Pontiac Sunfire was last restyled for the 2000 model year and changes since then have been minimal. The current model looks dated and the Sunfire has been redesigned for the 2003 model year.

Sunfire's exterior changes for 2003 begin up front where the cat-eye headlamps and new integrated turn signals extend further into the hood. The hood was redesigned for a more aggressive appearance. Integrated fog lamps, the dual-port grille, and aerodynamic extensions are designed to give the Sunfire's a sporty character.

In back are redesigned taillamps and a new body-colored applique. the back-up lights have been moved from the rear fascia and integrated with the license plate for a cleaner look. The rear spoiler, which comes standard, is designed to further the Sunfire's sports appeal.

New wheel covers for the standard 15-inch steel wheels are available in a painted finish. Optional aluminum wheels are available in 15- and 16-inch sizes.

Interior Features

New fabric freshens the interior of the 2003 Pontiac Sunfire with a bold design available in graphite (gray) or taupe. The new fabric looks durable.

Most drivers and passengers should find plenty of interior room. Getting in and out of the Sunfire is easier than it is in many other coupes. Once in, lots of glass and effective mirrors provide good visibility. The driver sees only a little bit of the sharply slanted hood.

Side-impact airbags are optional for 2003. Mounted on the front seats, they are designed to protect the thorax area of the front passengers. OnStar is also optional. OnStar operators will send safety crews to the rescue if an airbag deploys and they can't get a response. They can pinpoint the location of your car if it's stolen or unlock the doors remotely if you lock them inside. OnStar operators can help if you get lost or locate the nearest Mexican restaurant and make reservations for you. Subscribers can use the system to make hands-free cellular telephone calls. Other safety features include three-point seatbelts for all five seating positions.

The instrument panel is redesigned for 2003. New round air outlets can be rotated 360 degrees. The Sunfire's instrument panel is attractive 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.

2003 models get a new steering wheel and it's comfortable with indentions for holding it at 10 and 2 o'clock. Radio and air-conditioning controls are angled toward the driver, the latter revised for 2003 for easier operation.

XM satellite radio is optional for 2003, which features 100 coast-to-coast channels. No need to switch from your favorite station while driving cross country. The 24-hour news broadcasts are available along with dedicated sports channels.

A variety of audio systems is available, including a 200-watt, eight-speaker Monsoon system designed for the Sunfire's interior acoustics. The eight-channel amplified system features active crossovers to direct low, midrange, and high frequencies to the appropriate speakers. Crisp bass response and clear high frequencies make for great sound.

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 rear seats in 2003 models are split 60/40 and fold down for versatility and increased cargo capacity.

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.

Driving Impressions

The Pontiac Sunfire is easy and fun to drive.

The Ecotec 2.2-liter engine offers responsive performance, particularly when paired with the five-speed manual transmission. This newly developed four-cylinder engine generates 140 horsepower at 5600 rpm, giving the Sunfire enough power for confident passing and merging into busy highway traffic. While some engines tend to be peaky, providing maximum power only in a very narrow rpm range, the Ecotec has a broad torque curve and that enhances the engine's driveability. The new Ecotec engine is fuel efficient, EPA-rated at 24 mpg City and 33 Highway with the five-speed transmission, and 23/32 mpg with the four-speed automatic.

The five-speed manual transmission, built by renowned German gearbox maker Getrag, offers pleasant shifting and we enjoyed it. The optional four-speed automatic transmission works well around town, keeping the engine in its best operating range at lower speeds.

The Sunfire handles well. 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. You can really throw it around. Ride and handling have been improved for 2003 by stiffening the structure of the car, and re-tuning the suspension for a sportier, more controlled ride. The chassis did feel more rigid, more secure when driving quickly down a rough back roads. The revised suspension dampened road vibration reasonably well. Hitting a series of bumps didn't generate the aftershocks associated with older domestic compact cars. You feel the bumps, but it seems more controlled than it did in the pre-2003 models. The chassis and suspension and steering combine to produce a good blend of ride and handling, and the car projects a secure feeling of stability and solidity. Power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering gives the Sunfire quick steering response. The suspension comprises 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.

Bigger rear drum brakes and more rear brake bias are designed to improve braking performance. The brake pedal feels nice and firm and the brakes are responsive. ABS is optional, but we recommend it. Slam on the brakes and the ABS steps in, bringing the Sunfire to an undramatic stop. ABS can be a real ally in an emergency maneuver because it allows the driver to steer the car in a panic braking situation. Just remember to keep hard pedal pressure on the brakes and don't forget to steer.

Summary

Pontiac Sunfire offers sporty, expressive styling and decent performance in an affordably priced coupe. Revisions to this year's model improve refinement and add convenience. Sunfire is getting long in the tooth, however, so look for deals.

 


Model Line Overview

Model lineup: SE coupe ($14,910)
Engines: 140-hp 2.2-liter dohc 16v inline-4
Transmissions: 5-speed manual; 4-speed automatic
Safety equipment (standard): dual airbags
Safety equipment (optional): ABS, side airbags
Basic warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles
Assembled in: Lordstown, Ohio; Ramos Arizpe, Mexico

Specifications As Tested

Model tested (MSRP): Pontiac Sunfire SE ($14,910)
Standard equipment: air conditioning, power steering, intermittent wipers, 60/40 split folding rear seat, rear window defroster
Options as tested (MSRP): Package 1SC ($3050) includes automatic transmission, AM/FM/CD audio with six speakers, an easy-entry front passenger seat, a console cupholder, floormats, a tilt steering column, dual vanity visor mirrors, anti-lock brakes, Sports Suspension, P205/55R16 tires with aluminum wheels, a cargo convenience net, reading lights, overhead storage, power door locks, remote keyless entry, content theft alarm, XM satellite radio with RDS and equalizer, digital clock, leather-wrapped steering wheel, leather wrapped shift knob and parking brake handle, driver lumbar adjuster, intermittent wet-arm wipers
Destination charge: ($565)
Gas guzzler tax: N/A
Price as tested (MSRP): $18,525
Layout: front-wheel drive
Engine: 2.2-liter dohc 16v inline 4-cylinder
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 140 @ 5600
Torque (lb.-ft. @ rpm): 150 @ 4000
Transmission: 4-speed automatic
EPA fuel economy, city/hwy: 24/33 mpg
Wheelbase: 104.1 in.
Length/width/height: 181.9/67.4/53.0 in.
Track, f/r: 57.6/56.4 in.
Turning circle: 37.2 ft.
Seating capacity: 5
Head/hip/leg room, f: 37.6/48.7/42.1 in.
Head/hip/leg room, m: N/A
Head/hip/leg room, r: 36.6/49.5/32.6 in.
Trunk volume: 12.4 cu. ft.
Payload: N/A
Towing capacity: N/A
Suspension, f: independent
Suspension, r: beam axle
Ground clearance: N/A
Curb weight: 2606 lbs.
Tires: P205/55R16
Brakes, f/r: disc/drum with ABS
Fuel capacity: 15.2 gal.

 

Unless otherwise indicated, specifications refer to test vehicle.
All prices are manufacturer's suggested retail prices (MSRP) effective as of October 04, 2002.
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

2003 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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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

Road Visibility

Daytime Running Lights Std
Fog Lamps Std
Intermittent Wipers Opt

Security

Alarm Opt
Anti-theft System Std
Telematics Opt
Printable Version

2003 Pontiac Sunfire Coupe

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

2003 Pontiac Sunfire Coupe

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