Used 1997 Pontiac Sunfire Sedan

1997 Pontiac Sunfire
List price range
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.
Pontiac Sunfire years
1997

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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.

Top consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 1997 Pontiac Sunfire.

We love our "Blue Moblie"
tenkat,07/08/2011
We've had this car for 13 years and she's on 188,000 miles. She's been amazingly reliable. Just now getting noisy after all the miles we've thrown her way.
it's been a long ride
almost done,05/22/2006
at 180K + miles it still has the original alternator, original timing chain, replaced the battery maybe 3 times, replaced the brakes 2ce. I've taken it places that are made for 4 x 4s, yet suffered only minor brush scrapes to the paint from the tumbleweeds. This car is legend in my office for the abuse it has taken. I live far from dealerships--never had the recall items replaced. Manual transmission has decent acceleration for 4 cylinder. Perfect size for 5'3"-5'10" person, very comfortable. Handles sudden stops well--had to slam the brakes and veer one eve to avoid a burro at 80 mph, slid and stopped without spinning or rolling.
It is a reasonable car. Not very fast
Eagles,07/21/2002
Overall I think the 1997 Pontiac Sunfire has a reasonable performance. For the most part it has been reliable. The engine does not have a whole lot of pep anymore because of its 83,000 miles. But it runs okay and the exterior is in pretty good condition.
sunfires have lots of problems
ggirl,07/26/2002
I bought mine two years ago and I have had many problems like alternator,battery radio, a grove was dug in my roator by my break pads, they are not made very sturdy.
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Features & Specs

MPG
22 city / 33 hwy
Seats 0
5-speed manual
Gas
120 hp @ 5200 rpm
See all Used 1997 Pontiac Sunfire Sedan 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 Sedan Overview

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Find a used Pontiac Sunfire for sale - 1 great deals out of 13 listings starting at $15,154.

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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
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