1996 Pontiac Firebird Review

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List Price Estimate
$1,383 - $3,218

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Vehicle overview

Aside from a small period of history during the early '80s, Firebird has been synonymous with performance since 1967. The blue-striped Trans Am from 1969 comes to mind, along with the 1974 SD-455, the 1978 black and gold 6.6-liter T/A abused by Burt Reynolds in "Smokey and the Bandit," the orange 1978 Firebird Esprit driven to fame by James Garner in "The Rockford Files," the 1989 Turbo V6 Indianapolis 500 pace car, and this, the current iteration of Pontiac's F-car.

The Firebird, in base form, is a beautiful car. The blend of angular greenhouse lines and softly bulging sheetmetal creates the automotive equivalent of Kim Basinger in a silk nightgown. Unfortunately, the bespoilered Trans Am, with its aero skirting, decklid Batwing, and peek-a-boo driving lights ruins the effect. Not to worry; the Formula provides all of the T/A's hardware goodies in a more restrained, lighter, less costly package.

The Firebird's cockpit is a nice blend of style and function, and is much better than, say, that found in a Dodge Stealth. Dual airbags and antilock brakes are standard, and Firebird can be equipped with an optional traction control system on the Formula and Trans Am. Additionally, convertible versions of each model were introduced in 1994, so if top-down motoring is preferable, for a boost in price it is yours.

Performance from the Corvette-derived 5.7-liter V8 is astounding, providing enough power to get the Firebird to 60 mph faster than your ten-year-old can get to 40 yards. The LT1 V8 is good for 10 more ponies in 1996, up from 275 horsepower on last year's V8. New for 1996 is a Ram Air WS6 Performance and Handling Package for the Formula and T/A. Twin hood scoops force cool air into the LT1, resulting in 20 extra horsepower. WS6 suspension tuning and P275/40ZR17 keep the Ram Air Firebird planted to the ground. Base models haven't been forgotten; the new 3800 Series II V6 makes 40 more horsepower and 25 foot-pounds more torque than the 1995 base engine. A Performance Package for base Firebirds includes four-wheel disc brakes, a limited slip differential, dual exhausts, bigger tires and a tighter steering ratio. All Firebirds get sharp five-spoke alloy wheels for 1996.

One new exterior color and one new interior color have been added to the roster. Any Firebird can be ordered with a power antenna in 1996, and steering wheel radio controls are available with any radio. A theft deterrent system with a personal security key fob is newly available.

With major powertrain improvements and hot sheetmetal, the 1996 Firebird fries Ford's Mustang. Stay away from the well-optioned Trans Am, because the Formula provides all the performance and image you need, and keeps your budget well in the black.

1996 Highlights

A new standard V6 makes 40 more horsepower than the old one. The LT1 V8 also makes more power, particularly when equipped with Ram Air induction. A new color livens up the exterior, as if it needed it.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 1996 Pontiac Firebird.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

1996 Trans Am WS6
NineSixWS6,01/10/2004
I have a 96 TA with the WS6 package. I would reccomend the package to anyone considering the car. The hood, with the rims and exhaust give the car a much more aggressive look/sound along with increased performance and handling. It's a fun car with a good amount of power to keep up with many cars that are a lot more than it's price. No real complaints about it so far after over a year.
Fun car. Not reliable at all
transamlady,03/14/2011
This is a fun car to drive, Without a doubt! Love the design and overall look of the car. But the car is not very reliable. This cars makes a bad daily driver. It's not good on gas and a lot of stuff brakes on it. I had this car for almost 2 years and had problems the whole time. The transmission died on it at 125k and the motor fried up at about 135k .... The rear is still good (original rear now with 136k) I had this car towed twice... Once for the opti spark and another time for the motor (when it seized) If you decide to buy one. Spend a little more and get a nice clean one with low miles that was taken car of. this cars are very fickle. Prepare to spend lots of money on repairs!
GM masterpiece
NUNPUNCHER,06/24/2010
If you are going to buy one of these cars and plan on having a fast fun modded car, buy one that has a 6 spd and ws 6 package. Your life will be easier. Mine is an auto and I kicked myself after putting headers, 4.10 gears, full exhaust, 52 mm throttle body, bigger cam, basically put nuts in the motor. Now I can't drive it on the freeway due to the gears. Other than that I love it and wouldn't sell it for anything but a 6 spd ha ha. The only problem I've had was the fuel pump. I got 25 mpg around town before mods now it's more like 18, but that's the price you pay for power. Don't waste your hard earned money on a slow mustang. They are garbage and you'll be smoked by the red dragon.
Dont know.
Hot Momma,01/05/2003
I have owned this car for a while now and it is awesome. It is liked by teenagers and adults as well. Everyone always has something nice to say about the car. The gas mileage is great! I just hate the air bags system.

Features & Specs

MPG
15 city / 24 hwy
Seats 0
6-speed manual
Gas
285 hp @ 5000 rpm
MPG
17 city / 28 hwy
Seats 0
5-speed manual
Gas
200 hp @ 5200 rpm
MPG
15 city / 24 hwy
Seats 0
6-speed manual
Gas
285 hp @ 5000 rpm
See all Used 1996 Pontiac Firebird features & specs

Safety

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    DriverNot Rated
    PassengerNot Rated
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    RolloverNot Rated
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Not Tested
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Not Tested
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test
    0

More about the 1996 Pontiac Firebird

Used 1996 Pontiac Firebird Overview

The Used 1996 Pontiac Firebird is offered in the following submodels: Firebird Hatchback, Firebird Convertible, Firebird Trans Am. Available styles include Formula 2dr Convertible, 2dr Convertible, Trans Am 2dr Convertible, Formula 2dr Hatchback, 2dr Hatchback, and Trans Am 2dr Hatchback.

What's a good price on a Used 1996 Pontiac Firebird?

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Which used 1996 Pontiac Firebirds are available in my area?

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Find a used Pontiac Firebird for sale - 7 great deals out of 14 listings starting at $23,088.

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Should I lease or buy a 1996 Pontiac Firebird?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

Check out Pontiac lease specials
Check out Pontiac Firebird lease specials