2009 Pontiac Vibe Hatchback Review | Edmunds.com

2009 Pontiac Vibe Hatchback

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Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) is a category of used car. Often late-model vehicles, they have been inspected, refurbished, if necessary, and are under warranty by the manufacturer.
Pontiac Vibe Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 2.4 L Inline 4-cylinder
  • Drivetrain All Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 4-speed Automatic
  • Horse Power 158 hp @ 6000 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 20/26 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats No

Review of the 2009 Pontiac Vibe

  • The 2009 Pontiac Vibe remains a smart choice for an affordable, practical and sporty compact wagon.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Roomy backseat, comfortable ride, versatile cargo area, peppy performance, generous standard safety features, reliable Toyota powertrain.

  • Cons

    Lackluster acceleration in base model with automatic, Toyota's version is likely to have better resale value.

  • What's New for 2009

    The 2009 Pontiac Vibe receives a complete makeover. The result is a more stylish, better-performing compact sport wagon.

Full 2009 Pontiac Vibe Review

What's New for 2009

The 2009 Pontiac Vibe receives a complete makeover. The result is a more stylish, better-performing compact sport wagon.


In the past, small wagons were practical and affordable and not much more. If you wanted driving excitement, you were pretty much out of luck. The Pontiac Vibe, however, was one of the first entries in a new class of tall, compact sport wagons to change all that. Sure, it had the practical parts covered via an elevated driving position, remarkable passenger room, a versatile cargo area and impressive fuel economy. But it also had sporty styling, respectable performance and a cool-looking interior.

Once again a semi-identical twin to the Toyota Matrix, the redesigned-for-2009 Pontiac Vibe shares the Toyota's interior and mechanical components -- a genealogy that promises long-term reliability and durability. Unlike the identical cabins (furnished by Toyota), the exterior styling is unique to each model, with the Pontiac retaining its trademark dual grille theme. Pontiac says the steering and suspension were also specifically tuned for the Vibe.

In addition to the new styling, the '09 Vibe (available in base, AWD and GT trims) brings a new engine for all but the base trim. Replacing the high-revving but ill-suited 1.8-liter engine in previous GTs is a torquey 2.4-liter four-cylinder. It's the same one that's used in the Toyota Camry and Scion xB and is perfect in the real world for cut-and-thrust city traffic and freeway merging. The previous base-level 1.8-liter inline-4 carries over, though it's been heavily updated to provide a bit more power. All-wheel drive is available again, as well.

Other changes this year include a full complement of standard safety features and a newly standard telescoping steering wheel. Combined with increased front seat track travel, the new Vibe promises a more comfortable driving position for a greater range of body types. The interior retrains its driver-oriented layout and design, though now updated with easier-to-use controls, better materials and improved fit and finish.

If you're shopping for a small wagon or hatchback, there are more choices than ever, including the Chevrolet HHR, Mazda 3, Subaru Impreza and Scion xB. They share many of the Vibe's attributes, most notably an impressive amount of passenger/cargo space within a small footprint. The Chevy boasts cool retro styling and an available high-performance SS variant, the Mazda is known for its sporty handling and the boxy Scion has edgy youth appeal and the most interior space. If you don't dig the Vibe's styling vibe but appreciate its other attributes, Toyota's near-identical Matrix may fit your fancy. But the 2009 Pontiac Vibe makes no apologies here. With its peppy performance, solid handling, low price and high level of practicality, the Vibe is a smart choice.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2009 Pontiac Vibe is a compact four-door hatchback/wagon that essentially comes in two trim levels: base and GT, though the base can also be had with all-wheel drive (AWD).

The base Vibe features include 16-inch wheels, a four-speaker audio system (with satellite radio, a CD player and an auxiliary audio jack) and a tilt/telescoping steering column. Most buyers will probably want the base with the 1SB package, which adds a more powerful engine, a rear cargo organizer and a fold-flat front passenger seat. The AWD version adds all-wheel drive, sport suspension (with independent rear setup), a luggage rack and air-conditioning. The GT is outfitted like the AWD minus the all-wheel drive and adds a rear spoiler, 18-inch alloy wheels, an upgraded 320-watt audio system with MP3 playback, full power accessories, cruise control, keyless entry, leather/cloth sport seats and a leather-wrapped steering wheel (with audio controls) and shift knob.

For all but the GT there is the available Preferred Package, which provides full power accessories, cruise control and keyless entry. A Sun and Sound package is available for the two middle trims and includes a sunroof, the GT's audio system and the leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. la carte options for the lower trims include air-conditioning, the rear cargo organizer and an anti-theft system.

Powertrains and Performance

The base 2009 Pontiac Vibe is powered by a 1.8-liter 132-horsepower four-cylinder engine. All other trims feature a 2.4-liter four with 158 hp. A five-speed manual transmission is standard on all but the AWD, which comes with a four-speed automatic. The latter is optional on the base Vibe, while the 1SB and the GT offer an available five-speed automatic.

With the smaller engine coupled to the manual gearbox, acceleration is respectable as long as you don't mind winding the engine up past 4,000 rpm. The new 2.4-liter delivers solid, useful throttle response off idle and through the midrange, and the engine revs smoothly and quietly. With the 2.4, the run to 60 mph is estimated at around 8 seconds, about average in its class.


The Vibe comes with antilock disc brakes, OnStar, stability control and a full complement of airbags (front-seat side and full-length side curtain).

Interior Design and Special Features

All displays and controls are simple and intuitive, including those for the often-used climate control and audio systems. Build quality is also very good, with most of the interior bits and pieces sourced from Toyota. Thanks to the Vibe's tall architecture, there's plenty of room for passengers. The rear seat is split 60/40 and all but the base trim feature a flat-folding front passenger seat to allow long items to be carried inside. Max cargo capacity is 49.4 cubic feet, which is about mid-pack in the segment. All trims but the base also feature a rear cargo organizer that's handy for holding grocery bags upright and secure.

Driving Impressions

Through the turns, the 2009 Pontiac Vibe (especially in AWD and GT form with their sport suspensions) is responsive and composed, if not quite as entertaining as the decidedly sporty Mazda 3. Body roll is minimal, steering is nicely weighted and turn-in is fairly crisp. A supple ride makes the Vibe a good companion whether handling commuting duty or road tripping, and freeway cruising is unstrained at higher speeds.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

2009 vibe 1.8 automatic

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Vehicle: 2009 Pontiac Vibe 4dr Hatchback (1.8L 4cyl 5M)

I bought this car with 8000 miles on it and put on an additional 60,000 miles before it was totalled out in a crash with a 4 wheel drive pickup truck. We were driving almost 50 mph when the truck turned into us from the turn lane. We hit drivers side bumpers and came to an instant stop. My wife and I were banged up and bruised but able to walk away. We found out it had 4 and 5 stars in crash tests. We loved this car and got between 32 and 36 mpg depending on driving habits and time of the year. We never had a single problem with it and are now in the process of finding another one to purchase.

2009 base 2.4 w/5sp auto,

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Vehicle: 2009 Pontiac Vibe 4dr Hatchback (2.4L 4cyl 5M)

Bought new in July of '09. Base model with 2.4L/5sp-auto, PS,PL,cruise, keyless. Now pushing 80K miles with few issues. On my second set of tires and brakes. My steering column rattles (very common), cold starts sometime produce a timing cam rattle (common) and the paint chips and scratches easily (common). Fully loaded with family of 4 + gear on trip to Tenn. got me just shy of 32mpg. Even with my heavy foot, I still avg. 28mpg in daily mixed driving. Great fun to drive. Does everything I need. Was cheap to buy and maintain. Sharp little car. I have truly enjoyed it. I just added a K&N CAI and she sounds great, any mpg increase will be a bonus.

Great versatile car!

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Vehicle: 2009 Pontiac Vibe 4dr Hatchback AWD (2.4L 4cyl 4A)

We bought our 09 Vibe AWD when it was a year old and had 11K miles. It has 90K, now. My wife drives it most of the time and she liked the size and control layout. The interior is nice and the seats are comfortable. We often take this car on a 4 hour road trip to visit family and my back does not hurt. We average 28 mpg. Have gotten as high as 32. It swallows up cargo. Have hauled tall filing cabinets, 8Kw generators, lumber, etc. With the higher ground clearance and AWD it gets around great in Ohio winter snow. It could use more sound insulation. You hear a lot of road noise. New tires at 58K helped but still noisy. No major repairs, only normal maintenance items. Overall, great car!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

At least i can still

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Vehicle: 2009 Pontiac Vibe 4dr Hatchback (1.8L 4cyl 5M)

Almost at 100k miles and I have only had to replace the breaks and the oil filter housing (cheap part). I love my Vibe, bought it with 50k on it and have put 50k on it in the last 2 years. Its comfortable enough for the average commuter and very reliable. Great for hauling stuff around, and although no sports car its fun to drive. Good fuel economy, easily get 31-32 mpg. Only a few gripes, rear visibility is so-so, paint chips/scratches easy, speakers could be better.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

After 2 years and 40k,

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Vehicle: 2009 Pontiac Vibe 4dr Hatchback (1.8L 4cyl 5M)

Bought this car new from a dealer a couple of years ago. I am 6'4", and I loved the headroom/interior space in this vehicle. I am a single father and was looking for value, reliability and gas efficiency. After a couple of tanks of gas driving in the city, I realized I was getting 7L/100km. Awesome! I am over 40K now and have only had it into the shop for 2 recalls. It has never let me down. It is not super powerfull on the highway. (slow going up a hill with the kids in the back) But I will trade that for the gas mileage I get any day. On-star in-car phone was interesting for the first year, but I let it expire because I didn't want to pay the fees.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

Good vibes!

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Vehicle: 2009 Pontiac Vibe 4dr Hatchback (1.8L 4cyl 5M)

I was looking for a luxurious sporty car, and test drove the Vibe on a whim because it caught my eye. I fell in love with this car and could not be more happy with my purchase. The Vibe is well built for a car of it's class. I feel confidant that I will be driving my Vibe for many years. Mine had 36k on it when I bought her. I was able to buy a GMAC warranty for a whopping $1100. due to the low miles. I have my oil changes done at the dealership due to the type of oil the Vibe requires. I have my dogs kennel tethered to the child seat restraint hooks in the back seat.

Talk About The 2009 Vibe

2009 Pontiac Vibe Discussions See all Started By

2009 Vibe timetable pulled forward at NUMMI-...

VSC engine light and skid icon lights are on. VSC turned off, transmission disengages intermittently especially when shifting...

2009 Vibe 2.4 L engine FWD. Second owner had the car for a couple of weeks. While driving on the highway a very loud hum was had to ignore. With this the tachometer was reading 6500 rpms. Furthermore,...

Read more about the 2009 Pontiac Vibe

Gas Mileage


  • 20
  • cty
  • 26
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs

Other Vibe Years

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