1996 Pontiac Sunfire Review

Used Sunfire for sale
List Price Estimate:$627 - $1,482
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Pontiac Sunfire model years
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Edmunds' Expert Review

Vehicle overview

Pontiac has a winner here. The Sunfire is poised to take on the Neon, Cavalier, Escort and import compacts by offering excellent value, sporty styling, and reasonable performance in one well-rounded package. For 1996, Sunfire is available in coupe, sedan and convertible body styles.

Dual airbags and ABS are standard equipment on the Sunfire. Base models are powered by a 2.2-liter four-cylinder engine that was carried over from the old Sunbird. GT models get a twin-cam motor good for 150 horsepower. The twin cam is optional on the SE, and we highly recommend it, particularily mated to a five-speed transmission. However, one benefit of the automatic is the standard traction control system that comes with it.

Equipped with the twin cam and a five-speed manual transmission, the Sunfire is downright speedy; about as quick as the Neon Sport Coupe and Escort GT. The automatic raises acceleration times by about one second in the dash to 60 mph. Options on the Sunfire include sharp alloy wheels, a power sunroof, and a variety of sound systems, among others. Equip an SE Coupe to the gills and suddenly the Sunfire isn't such a value at $17,000. Creative fiddling with the options sheet should result in a well-equipped sport coupe priced under $15,000.

Though it's less than one year old, Pontiac has made several improvements to the Sunfire for 1996. The 2.4-liter twin-cam engine replaces last year's rare 2.3-liter Quad 4 motor, and the traction control-equipped four-speed automatic is new. PASSLock anti-theft is standard on all 1996 Sunfires. Ride and steering have been improved, and two new paint choices are available. Daytime running lights are newly standard, and buyers can now order remote keyless entry and steering wheel radio controls.

We think the Sunfire has what it takes to succeed in the crowded compact marketplace. If anything, the Sunfire makes a strong argument against purchasing its slightly larger stablemate, the Grand Am. If a sporty coupe, sedan or convertible is on your shopping list, check into the Sunfire.

1996 Highlights

Traction control, remote keyless entry and steering wheel radio controls are newly available. Old Quad 4 engine dumped in favor of new 2.4-liter twin-cam engine. Two new paint choices spiff up the exterior.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 1996 Pontiac Sunfire.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

4.88 out of 5 stars
1996 Sunfire Droptop,still a fun car
SE 2dr Convertible
The 1996 Sunfire SE Convertible equipped with the 150hp and 5spd is such an underappreciated sports/economy convertible. It performs well in summer and handles the New England winters. The power top stays true and fit. The engine still gives great performance for a 4 cyl/150 hp. The gas mileage remains good at about 22/29. I wanted a car that was fun, good styling, convertible. My wife said it needs 5 real seats. This one more than fit the bill of fare. The trunk space is also quite generous. There are many other cars manufactured with stylish appeal. Some better. But for the dollars and sense of this rag top it was just right for me.
3.63 out of 5 stars
96 sunfire died a few times still running
shawn beauman,09/27/2010
SE 4dr Sedan
i bought this car a month ago from my uncle he works on cars all the time he is not a mechanic but he is just as good as one. anyways the 1st day i got this car it died on me it would not start but the lights and the radio still worked (weird) and it had plenty of gas (half a tank) in it so i took it to cole muffler and they charged me about $400 just for a new starter and a new battery i got ripped off don't go to cole muffler they are (expensive) i only paid $850 for the car itself but i had to pay! $400 to get it running again and a week later it died on me again but after having it towed to cole muffler (again) it started without having any repairs done on it it has been over 2 weeks now
4.88 out of 5 stars
Saved my daughter's life
lisa hayes,06/24/2003
SE 4dr Sedan
We purchased this car for our daughter. Little did we know it would save her life. She was hit "head-on" by a drunk driver. The driver of the other car was in a Nissan Sentra and was killed in the crash. My daughter received only minor injuries. The investigating officer told us the car save her life because the front end of the car "dropped" which allowed the car to bow upward instead of into the driver/passenger area. Also, both airbags deployed and her seatbelts worked just as they should. We are planning to replace the car with another one just like it. My daughter says she won't drive anything else!
4.25 out of 5 stars
Inexpensive Sports Car
GT 2dr Coupe
I got this car instead of the Grand Am which had the exact same engine and tranny because it weighed less. I haven't been disapointed in it. I have the 2.4 motor that even after 120000 miles will cruise at 95 and get 28 to 29 mpg all day. I haven't "babyed" this car but have (as always) done my preventive maintanence. It still looks good and drives well. There have been some repairs to the A/C but over all it has been the sporty American-made small car I wanted when I got it.


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

More about the 1996 Pontiac Sunfire

Used 1996 Pontiac Sunfire Overview

The Used 1996 Pontiac Sunfire is offered in the following submodels: Sunfire Sedan, Sunfire Coupe, Sunfire Convertible. Available styles include SE 4dr Sedan, GT 2dr Coupe, SE 2dr Convertible, and SE 2dr Coupe. Pre-owned Pontiac Sunfire models are available with a 2.2 L-liter gas engine or a 2.4 L-liter gas engine, with output up to 150 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 1996 Pontiac Sunfire comes with front wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 5-speed manual.

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

Shop with Edmunds for perks and special offers on used cars, trucks, and SUVs near Ashburn, VA. Doing so could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Edmunds also provides consumer-driven dealership sales and service reviews to help you make informed decisions about what cars to buy and where to buy them.

Which used 1996 Pontiac Sunfires are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 1996 Pontiac Sunfire for sale near. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 1996 Pontiac Sunfire.

Can't find a used 1996 Pontiac Sunfires you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Pontiac Sunfire for sale - 3 great deals out of 17 listings starting at $11,690.

Find a used Pontiac for sale - 2 great deals out of 5 listings starting at $23,586.

Find a used certified pre-owned Pontiac Sunfire for sale - 6 great deals out of 9 listings starting at $15,697.

Find a used certified pre-owned Pontiac for sale - 3 great deals out of 23 listings starting at $13,082.

Should I lease or buy a 1996 Pontiac Sunfire?

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 Sunfire lease specials