Used 1998 Pontiac Sunfire Convertible

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1998 Pontiac Sunfire
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1998 Pontiac Sunfire

Pros

  • Racy styling, great value, rev-happy Twin Cam engine, comfortable interior

Cons

  • Body roll in corners

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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 1998, 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, which receives a boost in low speed torque for 1998. 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 manual 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 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 about $18,500. Creative fiddling with the options sheet should result in a well-equipped sport coupe priced around $16,000.

Pontiac hasn't changed much for 1998. All coupe models get a rear spoiler this year, and one new color is available. In an effort to appease youthful buyers, a new six-speaker sound system is available.

Recently, 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 (perhaps the new sound system will cure this malady). 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 was very affordable.

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, or its more pedestrian twin at Chevy dealers, the Cavalier. If a sporty coupe, sedan or convertible is on your shopping list, check into the Sunfire.

1998 Highlights

All coupes have a rear spoiler, a new six-speaker sound system is available, the base four-cylinder gets some additional low-end punch and Topaz Gold Metallic is added to the paint color chart. Second-generation airbags are added as standard equipment.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 1998 Pontiac Sunfire.

Overall Consumer Rating

Most helpful consumer reviews

Love my Sunfire
lina2,01/26/2012
I bought my 1998 Sunfire in 2000. I have been driving it ever since. It is an awesome little car and I will be sad to replace it this year. I am only replacing it because my teenagers cannot sit facing forward due to the lack of leg room. We have not had many problems with it at all. The most extensive repair was the timing. This is an awesome car for someone on a budget. The repairs are very inexpensive (some of which with basic knowledge and a repair manual can be done by the owner).
Definitely, a summer vehicle!
topdown,04/09/2002
I love everything about the car except that the roof leaks when it rains...I took it to a dealer in Garland, Texas and they supposedly replaced the seal while under warranty, but it only worked for a couple of weeks then started to fall off again... may be the opening and closing of the top that causes the inconsist performance and the leaking. However, it is a great car with the top down- lots of fun. However, a little hard to see out the back when the top is up.
Can't seem to let it go!
bugsnkitties,04/27/2002
I'm one that gets tired of a car after 2 or 3 years. But with this one I can't seem to let it go. Although the roof leaks and makes it stink after the rain. I enjoy driving roof up or down in beautiful northern CA. I agree it's dificult to see out the back when the roof is up. But it's been a reliable car for me since 1998.
I Love My Car
Offthewallmom,10/08/2003
I love my car. I have had minimal problems and maximum fun. She handles well in rain and snow. She is zippy, gives me good gas mileage and seems to be very reliable. The only complaint I have is when it is raining outside, if you roll down the window you are going to get wet! I wish they would have had a better design so you could crack open the window(s) and not get dripped on. Oh yeah, also one other thing, there is no place to put a drink. But these aside, I love my car!
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Features & Specs

MPG
20 city / 28 hwy
Seats 0
N/A
Gas
115 hp @ 5000 rpm
See all Used 1998 Pontiac Sunfire Convertible features & specs

Safety

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 1998 Pontiac Sunfire
Used 1998 Pontiac Sunfire Convertible Overview

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Should I lease or buy a 1998 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