1998 Pontiac Sunfire Review

Used Sunfire for sale
List Price Estimate:$509 - $1,203
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Pontiac Sunfire model years
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Edmunds' Expert Review

  • Racy styling, great value, rev-happy Twin Cam engine, comfortable interior
  • Body roll in corners

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 Used 1998 Pontiac Sunfire.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

4.25 out of 5 stars
Fantastic Reliable Car
Hamhawk,10/30/2010
SE 2dr Coupe
This was my first car purchase. I was barely a month over 18 in 1998 when I decided I needed to replace my aging 1977 Mustang II. I chose the 98 Pontiac Sunfire because of its sleek look and features. 12 years later I am still driving my little blue car. The 2.4 twin cam engine has plenty of pep and has never let me down, whether driving in the Mojave Desert or in Downtown San Francisco traffic. The only persistent problems I have had revolve around the cooling system. I have needed to replace the radiator fan and thermostat more times than I can remember (thankfully only a few hundred to repair), the ABS system has failed irreparably, but she has gone over 12 years and over 183,000 miles
3.88 out of 5 stars
Love my Sunfire
lina2,01/27/2012
SE 2dr Convertible
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).
4.5 out of 5 stars
Fun To Drive
Bizkit,11/08/2004
GT 2dr Coupe
Cannot crack windows open in the rain or I get wet. Radio volume knob is a bit annoying. Other than those 2 things though it is a great car. Shifts smooth and handles the curves very well. Strong 4 cyl. engine with just enough HP for a small car.
3.88 out of 5 stars
Best GM Car owned to date
'Happy',08/10/2006
SE 2dr Coupe
Very impressed with reliability, gas mileage and exterior paint (red). Have only changed front brake pads, battery and tires after eight years. The car shines almost as good as new. My highway mileage at times exceeds 500 miles to a tank of gas(5 speed manual). What else can you ask for?

Safety

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver3 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver1 / 5
    Passenger2 / 5
  • 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 1998 Pontiac Sunfire

Used 1998 Pontiac Sunfire Overview

The Used 1998 Pontiac Sunfire is offered in the following submodels: Sunfire Sedan, Sunfire Coupe, Sunfire Convertible. Available styles include SE 4dr Sedan, SE 2dr Coupe, SE 2dr Convertible, and GT 2dr Coupe. Pre-owned Pontiac Sunfire models are available with a 2.2 L-liter gas engine, with output up to 115 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 1998 Pontiac Sunfire comes with front wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 5-speed manual.

What's a good price on a Used 1998 Pontiac Sunfire?

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Which used 1998 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) 1998 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 1998 Pontiac Sunfire.

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Find a used Pontiac for sale - 12 great deals out of 12 listings starting at $15,550.

Find a used certified pre-owned Pontiac Sunfire for sale - 11 great deals out of 15 listings starting at $12,838.

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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