Used 1996 Pontiac Sunfire Sedan

1996 Pontiac Sunfire
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1996 Pontiac Sunfire

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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 1996 Pontiac Sunfire.

Overall Consumer Rating

Most helpful consumer reviews

96 sunfire died a few times still running
shawn beauman,09/27/2010
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
Saved my daughter's life
lisa hayes,06/24/2003
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!
Maybe, maybe not...
This car is wonderfully fun. It is uncomfortable for tall passengers. I enjoy the ride...but it becomes very uncomfortable if used for long trips. The stereo quality is poor but can be easily changed after purchase. Small and economical. Have had problems with the brakes. Has visited the shop numerous times including all of the recalls. It is a good car in some ways...a bad car in others.
Let me stand next to your "Fire"
What a fun car! This is my first acr and the funnest car that i have ever driven. It is large enough to be comfortable for a guy 6 foot tall. And comfortable it is! Trust me. though it is only 150 stock HP it is very light weight, so it is very quick, especially with the sport 4 speed automatic. I kick every thing from honda's to BMW's. My friend even beat a Honda S2000 in it the other day. I love this car!
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Features & Specs

22 city / 33 hwy
Seats 0
5-speed manual
120 hp @ 5200 rpm
See all Used 1996 Pontiac Sunfire Sedan features & specs


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 Sedan Overview

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

Find a used Pontiac Sunfire for sale - 3 great deals out of 22 listings starting at $10,181.

Find a used Pontiac for sale - 2 great deals out of 8 listings starting at $23,966.

Find a used certified pre-owned Pontiac Sunfire for sale - 2 great deals out of 20 listings starting at $17,384.

Find a used certified pre-owned Pontiac for sale - 1 great deals out of 22 listings starting at $24,543.

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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