What has bland looks, a reliable Toyota engine, and goes 0-60 in 10 seconds? No, we’re not talking about a Prius, or any other Toyota, for that matter. We’re talking about the Pontiac Vibe! Yes, the Toyota Matrix in American clothing. It’s long gone, but with currently affordable used-car pricing, is it worth it to buy one?
The Pontiac Vibe spanned two generations; the first from 2003-2008, the second from 2009-2010, after undergoing a much-needed refresh. Unfortunately, after 2010, the Vibe went away with the brand and we were left with the Toyota Matrix until 2014.
So why would anyone want a Pontiac Vibe? We like that the Vibe is basically a Toyota underneath all that Pontiac sheet metal. That’s right, GM shared the same assembly plant with Toyota once upon a time, and during that time, they created an American version of the Toyota Matrix. According to Jalopnik, the Vibe “shared not just the same basic Corolla-based platform as the Toyota Matrix, but also the powertrains and the interior.”
This platform cross-sharing meant that the Vibe had some nice features like a 110-volt outlet, a spacious interior for passengers and their cargo, as well as an available all-wheel drivetrain. We like the Vibe because it existed at a time when manufacturers were cramming as much stuff into a practical car as possible in order to bring value. This was a time of Dodge Calibers and Suzuki Grand Vitaras. It’s a shame they didn’t last.
When it was new, the Pontiac Vibe received good reviews. Kelley Blue Book praised the Vibe for its practicality and all-wheel-drive capability. While KBB’s consumer ratings have held strong throughout the years, with an overall rating of 4.7 out of 5.
That’s a bit of a contrast to Consumer Report’s current owner satisfaction rating of 3 out of 5, but that’s a mix of both generations. And a quick look at Carcomplaints.com shows us that there were issues, however, mostly for the earlier models. So if you’re interested, we suggest finding a 2009-2010 Vibe.
In case you need a refresher, here’s an old review of the last-generation Vibe:
We know that the Pontiac Vibe is practical and reliable, but just how affordable is it? A nationwide search on Cargurus.com shows us that we can find a Pontiac Vibe for as low as $2,000 up to $10,000.
For reference, a search for a Toyota Matrix reveals prices ranging from $2,000 to $14,000, depending on the year and mileage. It’s safe to say that the Vibe will always be more affordable, thanks to a little badge swapping.
Is it worth it?
In case you haven’t guessed, we think it’s worth it to buy a Pontiac Vibe. In these trying times, when the economy is having its ups and downs and toilet paper is more valuable than gold, we just have to find the light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to affordable transportation. And sometimes, that light is a Toyota Matrix with a Pontiac badge on it.