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Although it's one of the elder statesmen in the growing compact sport wagon segment, the 2007 Pontiac Vibe is still a respectable choice, thanks to its high levels of style, practicality, affordability and dependability.
Comfortable ride, roomy backseat, versatile cargo area, impressive fuel economy, available stability control, reliable Toyota powertrain.
All major safety features are available as options only; Toyota's version is likely to have better resale value.
Available Vibe Wagon Models
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With the deletion of the AWD and GT versions, the 2007 Pontiac Vibe line gets trimmed down to just a single trim level.
One of the first of a fairly new breed of tall, sporty wagons that provide a lot of cabin space and practicality within their small footprints, the 2007 Pontiac Vibe still remains a smart choice in its segment. By combining the nimble handling of a compact sedan with the versatility of a four-door hatchback body design, the Vibe has proven popular among young buyers who want something roomy and practical that delivers high fuel economy while still having more than a dash of style and attitude.
The product of a joint venture between Toyota and Pontiac, the Vibe is essentially a twin to the Toyota Matrix; indeed, the two are built at the same factory. The platform is essentially all Toyota, and most interior components are shared as well. It's the body styling that separates the two, and to our eyes the Pontiac Vibe is the looker with its distinctive twin grille and sharper lines as compared to the Matrix's generic nose and bulbous hindquarters. With an overall length of just 171 inches, the Vibe is shorter than a typical compact sedan, but its height and width provide a spacious cabin. Examples of its practical nature include a wipe-clean plastic load floor and a fold-flat front passenger seat that allows long items to be carried within the cabin. A somewhat higher seating position appeals to those who like the "command of the road" view that affords, yet getting in and out of the Vibe is a breeze thanks to relatively large doors and high seat cushions.
Although the overtly sporty GT with its powerful, high-winding engine and six-speed manual has been dropped this year (as has the all-wheel-drive version), the remaining base Vibe still provides responsive performance thanks to a broad power band and a well-sorted suspension. It also boasts excellent fuel economy, with ratings of 30 mpg city and 36 mpg highway.Competitors like Chevrolet's HHR, Chrysler's PT Cruiser and Mazda's 3 share many of the Vibe's attributes, the most obvious being remarkable space efficiency. The Chevy and Chrysler boast cool retro styling and the Mazda is known for its sporty handling. The Vibe doesn't quite match any one of those vehicles in its specific areas of expertise, but it does offer a well-rounded package that delivers a little bit of everything without sacrificing practicality or fun. Even in its fifth year of this model cycle, the 2007 Pontiac Vibe makes a solid case for itself as an attractive yet practical sport wagon for those on a budget.
The four-door, five-passenger Pontiac Vibe comes in a single trim level. Standard are 16-inch wheels, air-conditioning, a CD player and tilt steering. Most folks will probably want to add the optional Preferred Package as it provides power windows, locks and mirrors; cruise control and keyless entry. There's also the Sun and Sound Package with a sunroof and an upgraded audio system. Spring for both and you're eligible to order OnStar as well. Leather seating is also available via the Premium Package, which also includes leather wrapping for the steering wheel and gear shifter. Other Vibe option choices include XM satellite radio, 17-inch alloy wheels and a Sport package (which features a monochromatic paint scheme, 16-inch alloy wheels and an in-dash six-disc CD changer).
The only engine available for the 2007 Pontiac Vibe is a 1.8-liter, 126-horsepower four-cylinder mated to either a standard five-speed manual transmission or an optional four-speed automatic. With the manual gearbox, acceleration is decent as long as you don't mind winding the engine up past 4,000 rpm. Though it's a smooth runner, the engine can get a bit noisy when kept on the boil. With the automatic, off-the-line punch is somewhat tepid but otherwise acceleration is satisfactory.
Nearly all modern safety features are available, but they're optional. Seat-mounted side airbags for front occupants, full-length side curtain airbags, ABS brakes, a tire-pressure monitor and stability control are all optional. In NHTSA crash tests, the Pontiac Vibe earned a perfect five stars in frontal-impact testing for the driver and four stars for the front passenger. Side impact testing (without the optional airbags) by that agency resulted in three stars for the front and four stars for the rear.
All Vibes feature a stylish and functional interior. Chrome-ringed gauges and metallic dash trim spice things up in front, while in back, the 60/40-split bench seat provides roomy accommodations for adult passengers and folds completely flat to create 54.1 cubic feet of usable cargo space. Other useful features include a front passenger seat that folds flat for carrying extra-long items, a 115-volt AC power outlet for plugging in household devices and a durable plastic cargo floor with adjustable tie-down anchors. The control layouts are simple and intuitive for the most part, with straightforward climate controls and a well-placed stereo.
Although the Vibe's handling isn't as entertaining as that of the decidedly sporty Mazda 3, it is responsive and composed. Body roll is well controlled and turn-in is fairly crisp. A supple ride makes the 2007 Pontiac Vibe a good companion whether handling commuting duty or road tripping, and freeway cruising is unstrained at higher speeds.
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