Thanks for the praise! I agree with you entirely about the dash-mounted 120 volt outlet... it is really not that useful, given its location. Further, most accessories I have which MAY need its use (i.e. digital camera battery chargers, battery rechargers, laptops) are shaped very bulkily near the plug, which makes it difficult to insert into the dash-mounted socket. The fact that it is a two prong plug further limit its use for things like vacuum cleaners and such.
As for the Lotus, my understanding is that it uses the engine found in the Vibe GT and the Celica, which while it has the same displacement as the base Vibe engine, is not the same engine.
As for performance enhancement, I understand that GM actually sells a factory authorized Eaton supercharger (!!!) for the Vibe, which when installed by your local GM dealership, is fully factory approved and covered under the original warranty! It costs a bit much though, as parts and labour run for about $3,000. Oddly, Toyota offers a similar unit for its base model Matrix and Corolla. It too is a supercharger, but it is a DIFFERENT unit entirely, manufactured in house by Toyota Racing Development (TRD). Price is around the same, but a very different design. More trivia than anything, as I can't see people who buy Vibes spending this type of money on after-market conversions, of what is essentially a glorified Corolla wagon! :)
Another bit of trivia, the Pontiac Vibe is also manufactured with a right-hand drive model for the Japanese market, where is is sold as the Toyota Voltz... (am IMAGE search on Google will pull up tons of pictures) This car is manufactured alongside the Vibe at the Freemont plant, and is one of the few Toyotas "exported" back to Japan. Interestingly, the Voltz is styled as a Vibe, and the Toyota Matrix is NOT sold in Japan!
These are the two best posts I've ever seen on this website. So much good info. I think I am going to buy a Toyota Voltz ummmm I mean Pontiac Matrix... Toyota Vibe...
February 9th, 2005, an update to my original post... the car now has 23,000km, and has over the course of the last two months developed its first problem. Where fuel economy was previously observed to be at approximately 10L/100KM (almost all city driving), it has recently deteriorated to over 13L for every 100km!! (that is sub 20mpg!)... I took it in to the local Pontiac dealer to have it inspected (i suspected that it is a problem with a faulty oxygen sensor), and was alarmed to discover that these mechanics are VERY unfamiliar with the car. It took two mechanics 10 minutes to figure out the plug-socket for the diagnostic tool!!! I suspect that these things are designed very differently from the usual grouping of GM cars, and most dealerships are simply not adequately trained to do work on a Toyota. Anyhow, after 1/2 hour with the car, they assured me that nothing is wrong, but that they were having software glitches with the diagnostics tool. I am not convinced, given the 30% increase in fuel consumption, and no significant change in my driving habits. I will be taking the car to a Toyota dealership next week, even though it obviously would not be covered under any warranty. Otherwise, the car has been great. I've noticed that the the engine now sounds much less noisy than when I first bought the car... perhaps the engine is now better broken in? Silly quibble about the OEM tires, they tend to wear out prematurely, as I am already at more than 1/2 way through the useful life of the treads... certainly not a knock at the design of the car, but telling of the type of things that manufacturers do to cut costs.
My 2004 Vibe still has the original tires (Goodyear RS-A P205 R55 16) and with 44,850 km, the tires are pretty much done and ready for replacement. When I enquired about buying new tires with a local Goodyear retailer, I was told that the rubber used in the RS-A's is softer than normal and therefore is a tire that's prone to wear out more quickly.
Before purchasing my 2006 Vibe, I did a lot of research and found that OEM tire life averages around 20,000 miles for the AWD model and 25,000 for the 2WD model. When I get to the point of replacement, I will certainly look for harder rubber than OEM.
I am averaging about 27MPG around town and I have a heavy foot, so I'm satisfied. Haven't had a highway romp with it yet, but expect to get close to the advertised 34MPG with my 2WD Vibe.
The only complaint I have is the placement of the windshield wiper/washer control. It's hard to see it through the thin steering wheel spoke.
We just bought a 2006 Vibe base model with a few upgrades. The factory Monsoon stereo is quite adequate. The factory XM is excellent. We just completed a 3200 mile trip and averaged 33.5/gallon on the freeway at an average speed of 75 to 80, three people and luggage. Around town is about 27 to 30 with one or two people and no luggage. The only gripe is the paint seems to chip easily. I would recommend that owners install the Invisible Patterns type plastic front shield. This can be had at a dealer for about $500 or found on ebay and install yourself for about $75. This covers the front half of the hood, bumper and mirrors. The over all quality is good. I will be installing some Dynamat for the road noise and this should help. For the price I think one gets a fair amount for the money.
Very good original review, but I would disagree about gas mileage. Mine, base '06, is just breaking in and doing around 30-32 mpg (9.2l/100km) in city driving, expect better mileage in future. Looking for replacement of OEM tires (RS-A) for next winter. Engine power is perfectly adequate for city and for short highway trips, little slow off line though. Overall I'm very pleased with Vibe.
Just to contribute my bit... my 03 Vibe has just hit 40,000 km. Runs as new, but the clearcoat finish has some minor peeling issues. RS-A tires will last another 10,000 then they're done. Aluminum rims show a bit of corrosion from road salt. Other than that... best car I've ever owned.
An update to my original review... was involved in a rear-end collision in July, 2006, in which two cars behind me collided into the rear of my beloved Vibe. The impact didn't FEEL very hard, but I was surprised to learn that the rear section of the structural rails buckled (as crumple zones are designed to do), which warranted 6 hours of frame-bending to get it back in shape (think of a juice box which has been crumpled, and then pull back into shape).
Anyhow, this is certainly not a reflection as to the quality of the design, but there are several observations I can make about the structural integrity of the Vibe. The crumple zone seemed to have worked well, as it absorbed the bulk of the impact, without any serious injuries to the driver or passenger (just minor soft tissue injuries)... However, it is also apparent that a unibody structure design does not facilitate for ease of repair, given that a relatively minor collision required so much work. It is also apparent that even after the repair, various little quirks are beginning to pop up, including a loose driver's seat, which "rocks" whenever I accelerate (i imagine that the impact somehow knocked the seat rails loose, although all bolts appear to be tight), also, there is now a series of odd squeaks, knocks and other unsavory sounds coming from the underside of the vehicle, all of which did not exist prior to the accident! My thoughts on this is that while the design was drum tight leaving the factory, the tolerances are so narrow on these cars that as soon as something knocks it out of wack, chronic problems will appear. While most new car buyers are not thinking of ease of repair down the road, this is one aspect of the design which makes it less desirable than a design with a body-on-frame construction, which is easier to repair structually... However, with the exception of several Kias and a couple of Suzukis and Jeeps, not too many cars in this class use a body-on-frame design anymore.
On another matter, fuel economy seems to have improved, and stands at about 11L/100km (city driving only).