2003 Pontiac Vibe Reviews from North America

2003 Pontiac Vibe Base 1.8L (1ZZ-FE)

Model year2003
Year of manufacture2003
First year of ownership2010
Most recent year of ownership2011
Engine and transmission 1.8L (1ZZ-FE) Automatic
Performance marks 5 / 10
Reliability marks 10 / 10
Comfort marks 7 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 10 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
8.0 / 10
Distance when acquired86000 miles
Most recent distance106500 miles
Previous carHonda Civic

Summary:

The Vibe is a roomy, reliable Swiss Army Knife of a car

Faults:

Will change rear brake shoes soon (at 106,500 miles).

Various small indicator lights on the dashboard/console have failed, such as the gear indicator light on the shifter and several lights in the radio.

Some trim panels on the dashboard are loose or rattling.

General Comments:

The base 1.8 liter engine is far from a performer, especially paired with the automatic transmission. At 65 MPH, the car downshifts (sometimes twice) to handle even moderate hills.

I would have expected better than 28 mpg from a Corolla-based platform, but I guess the slushomatic transmission and the added weight of the car's large frame contribute to undermine its fuel economy. Still, I've driven far worse.

That said, visibility is excellent, cornering is tight and adroit, and the suspension is comfortable and refined. This probably owes to the car's very large tire footprint courtesy of the 16" rims. Speaking of which, tires for this car do NOT come cheap.

I'm 6'1", and I find the front seats uncomfortable after about two hours' worth of driving. However there is plenty of headroom, even without the moon roof.

This car excels at utility. You can stuff practically anything into this little car, or tie it to the roof if it still won't fit. The flat-folding rear seats, the folding passenger seat, plastic decking and adjustable tie-down points have all been used and abused on many occasions.

Reliability has been stellar over the past 20,000 miles. I've done NOTHING to it but change the oil, buy two new tires, and replace a headlamp.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 4th October, 2011

2003 Pontiac Vibe Base 1zz

Model year2003
Year of manufacture2003
First year of ownership2009
Most recent year of ownership2011
Engine and transmission 1zz Automatic
Performance marks 10 / 10
Reliability marks 10 / 10
Comfort marks 8 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 10 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
9.5 / 10
Distance when acquired145000 miles
Most recent distance167000 miles

Summary:

A great car, would definitely get another

Faults:

Have not had any problems to date.

General Comments:

167,000 miles and it still runs like brand new.

No rust, no leaks, tight steering, and still 28 mpg in the city.

I find the seat a little uncomfortable after about an hour of constant driving.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 20th January, 2011

20th Jan 2011, 22:13

You'll never be able to buy another new Vibe, or any other new Pontiac for that matter, either. Thank the GREAT MINDS at GM for that who first bumped off Olds, and then Pontiac.

2003 Pontiac Vibe GT 1.8

Model year2003
Year of manufacture2002
First year of ownership2008
Most recent year of ownership2010
Engine and transmission 1.8 Manual
Performance marks 8 / 10
Reliability marks 8 / 10
Comfort marks 9 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 7 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
8.0 / 10
Distance when acquired91000 miles
Most recent distance104000 miles
Previous carVolkswagen Jetta

Summary:

Sporty, versatile, inexpensive, small-family car, and a good buy

Faults:

Replaced clutch at 100,000.

Back-up warning sensor (if you are too close to an object) has never worked. Every time I put it in reverse, I sound like a garbage truck backing up.

Far too loud! At between 2900 and 3100 RPM (which happens to be about 68 MPH), the tailpipe's resonance is a very loud hum, which becomes old quick. It isn't even an attractive hum, it is almost as bad as a Honda with those ridiculous pipe attachments.

Nothing major has broken on the car since purchasing it. The clutch is a normal wear-and-tear item, as long as it isn't too often.

General Comments:

This car has the VVTi engine, which has 180hp. Couple this with the 6-speed manual of the GT and it is quite zippy. You only really notice the power higher up in the band, somewhere close to 5500 RPM. You really notice the boost once it hits. Don't worry, the redline is near 8500. Watch your fingers when putting it into reverse, you can pinch them against the dash quite easily.

I am over 6 foot tall and there is ample headroom. Plus the seating position is probably the best of any car I have driven (well over 30 cars, not all mine of course). Extremely comfortable on longer trips. The 3 spoke wheel is great for driving as well.

However, this is still a Pontiac and will feel rickety, rough, and sometimes slapped together. I say it is made up for the fact that Toyota designed the mechanics.

Overall, the car is sporty, roomy, versatile, good on gas mileage, and mechanically sound if rough.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 19th October, 2010

2003 Pontiac Vibe GT 1.8L 180HP

Model year2003
Year of manufacture2002
First year of ownership2008
Most recent year of ownership2008
Engine and transmission 1.8L 180HP Manual
Performance marks 7 / 10
Reliability marks 8 / 10
Comfort marks 9 / 10
Dealer Service marks 9 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 7 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
8.0 / 10
Distance when acquired29000 miles
Most recent distance30000 miles
Previous carChevrolet S-10

Summary:

Good car for the money

Faults:

Only thing that has absolutely needed to be replaced was the muffler. There was a hole in it, which would cause excessive noise above 3000rpms, and it had this problem at the dealership, so it was replaced free of charge (29,000 miles)

The rotors do look to need replacement (30,000 miles) as there are visible grooves in them, but the brakes don't squeak and feel smooth.

Tires are pretty worn considering how low the mileage is.

The knob to switch the mode (vent, floor, defrost) has broken and the switch will need to be replaced. The part should cost between $80 and $100 dollars and is relatively simple to replace. (30,400 miles)

General Comments:

This car was the best I could get for the money. Loaded with the sound package, moonroof, keyless entry, 4 wheel anti-lock disk brakes, 6 speed manual, cruise, power everything (except seats).

This car is pretty comfortable for a compact car as well as spacious, I have driven the base model on a 1,000 mile road trip in comfort.

The fuel economy isn't as good as the base model, but I can't complain. I average about 30mpg on the highway and about 20mpg around town. This car requires premium gas, so it is a little more costly to drive than other compacts.

The car has fair power, but you need to get the revs really high to get it (seems to be around 6500 rpms is when the VVTi kicks in), when the VVTi kicks in the car is pretty quick. The car handles fairly in most road conditions. It handles snow alright, and deals with ice fairly and is very stable when cornering with almost no noticeable understeer/torque steer (there's not really any torque anyhow!).

The accelerator is very touchy and doesn't have a lot of travel, so it does take some getting used to in order to drive this car.

One annoyance is that the car beeps loudly when in reverse, this is great to insure you are in reverse, but there is somewhat of a lockout mechanism anyhow.

The clutch still seems to have quite a bit of life left on it and is not slipping at all, despite many owners reporting their clutches slipping very prematurely (as early as 25,000 miles), I hope the longevity of the clutch is good, seeing as I pamper it.

Overall it's a very good car and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to somebody seeking a sporty, versatile car. The only reason I would not buy another car from Pontiac is because they no longer sell anything that interests me.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 13th March, 2008

Average review marks: 8.1 / 10, based on 21 reviews