Used 1997 Pontiac Sunfire Convertible

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1997 Pontiac Sunfire
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1997 Pontiac Sunfire

Pros

  • Good looks, zippy powertrain (Twin Cam), comfortable interior, standard ABS, standard traction control with automatic transmission, good value

Cons

  • Weight, buzzy powertrain (2.2-liter), excessive body roll.

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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 assorted import compacts by offering excellent value, sporty styling, and reasonable performance in one well-rounded package. For 1997, 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, particularly mated to a five-speed transmission. However, one benefit of the four-speed 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. 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 $18,000. Creative fiddling with the options sheet should result in a well-equipped sport coupe priced around $15,000.

Pontiac has concentrated on the convertible model for 1997. A four-speed automatic is standard, though buyers can opt for a manual transmission when stepping up to the twin-cam engine. Controlled-cycle wipers, rear window defogger, and cruise control all move from the options list to the standard equipment list of the SE Convertible. All Sunfires meet 1997 side-impact standards (surprise), and coupe models have a new front seatbelt guide loop. Three new colors debut, and the optional sports interior can be trimmed in Patina/Redondo cloth. Color or pattern, Scully?

Last year, we drove a Sunfire SE Convertible for a week, and only had complaints about excessive body roll, an ineffective climate control system when the top was down and the windows were up, and very weak stereo speakers. Otherwise, our twin-cam five-speed test car was a hoot, prompting a friend with a 1991 Mustang LX 5.0 automatic to quip "I better get some different gears in this thing. I can't have Sunfires keeping up with me." Best of all, our well-equipped test car came in under $20,000.

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.

1997 Highlights

SE convertible gets a higher level of standard equipment, including an automatic transmission. Coupes get a new front seatbelt guide loop, and a new Sports Interior trim debuts called Patina/Redondo cloth.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 1997 Pontiac Sunfire.

Overall Consumer Rating

Most helpful consumer reviews

Pocket rocket
pocket rocket,10/31/2002
Fun car to drive...dependable and loaded with safety features standard. Power convertible top has always worked great with no leaks. Maintenance is affordable and the car still has lots of value and fun left.
Excellent
daf,08/26/2005
Excellent car; great fun sporty little car for the price, with more rear room for kids and dogs etc than most convertibles; one of the best deals around, just not known really for unknown reasons.
Great deal
ANJERS,07/11/2005
This is my 2nd Sunfire (1st one was totaled in an accident). It now has 120,000 miles on it and it still runs beautifully! I had my tranny serviced on it the other day just to keep it healthy and my mechanic was very much impressed w/my car. Had it looked over completely and it is still in amazing condition. The takeoff from a stop is suprisingly quick and has lots of balls for such a small engine. Love it!!
better than a tempo
jake the snake,06/06/2002
The 1997 Pontiac Sunfire is a nice litte car. It accelerates well, with its 2.4L 150 horsepower engine. The convertible top leaks, but so does every convertible after awhile. The stereo can barley be heard at full volume on the freeway with the top down, hence my speakers are all blown now. It has the smallest trunk in the world. My #2 cylinder died at 93000 miles. A used engine installed cost me $3300. It's fun, pretty and looks like its smiling all the time (not very aggressive looking, at all), but it's not very cheap to maintain and it's about as reliable as compaq tech support.
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Features & Specs

MPG
22 city / 31 hwy
Seats 0
N/A
Gas
120 hp @ 5200 rpm
See all Used 1997 Pontiac Sunfire Convertible features & specs

Safety

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver4 / 5
    Passenger3 / 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
    Poor

More about the 1997 Pontiac Sunfire
Used 1997 Pontiac Sunfire Convertible Overview

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Find a used Pontiac Sunfire for sale - 11 great deals out of 16 listings starting at $23,604.

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Should I lease or buy a 1997 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