1999 Pontiac Sunfire Review

Used Sunfire for sale
List Price Estimate:$556 - $1,310
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Pontiac Sunfire model years
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Edmunds' Expert Review

  • Racy styling, comfy interior, rev-happy twin-cam engine, good value.
  • Option list can overpower sale price, body roll apparent during hard cornering.

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 a well-rounded package. The '99 Sunfire is available as a coupe, sedan or convertible in SE (base) trim, and as a coupe or convertible in the GT (uplevel) series. Dual airbags, ABS and an anti-theft system are standard equipment. A 2.2-liter four-cylinder engine, which last year received a boost in low-end torque, powers base models. Power is rated at 115 horsepower, and can be fed through the standard five-speed manual or optional three- and four-speed automatics. GT models get a slightly larger 16-valve four-cylinder, good for 150 horsepower. The GT's 2.4-liter twin-cam motor 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 bigger engine 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, watch the price soar to the mid-18s, and suddenly the Sunfire isn't such a strong value. Creative fiddling with the options sheet should result in a well-equipped sport coupe priced around $16,000.

Other than offering the convertible in GT trim, Pontiac hasn't changed much for 1999. Improvements to the 2.4-liter twin-cam engine include fuel injectors, fuel injector rails, exhaust manifold and catalytic converter. A decklid spoiler, standard on coupe models, is now optional on sedans, and one new color is available. Sunfire has nooks and crannies in the console and on the door panels to store things like compact discs or cassettes, and sports a huge, 12.7-liter glovebox, big enough to store and average-sized purse or even a 12-pack of soda and an ice pack. For the more musically oriented buyer, a six-speaker sound system is available.

We drove a Sunfire SE Convertible for a week, and had complaints only about excessive body roll, an ineffective climate control system when the top was down and weak stereo speakers (perhaps we should recommend the six-speaker sound system to cure this malady). Otherwise, our twin cam-powered 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 carried an affordable price tag.

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 small but sporty coupe, sedan or convertible is on your shopping list, check into the Sunfire.

1999 Highlights

After Sunfire coupes got a rear spoiler last year, this year it's the sedan's turn, only as an option. The top-line 2.4-liter twin-cam engine is revised to improve breathing, including new fuel injectors, injection rails, exhaust manifold and catalytic converter. Fern Green Metallic is added to the paint color chart.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 1999 Pontiac Sunfire.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

3.25 out of 5 stars
3 engines! 2.4 L
terror 6,04/09/2010
SE 2dr Coupe
My sunfire, while fun to drive, has had nothing but problems. It had a wiring issue that 12 "technicians" at RON TONKIN LIARS AUTO sales could not find. Pontiac said there wasn't any known issues or recalls. I bought this car with 60,000 miles. It had already had a motor replaced with another used one that the LIARS at R.T.K. didn't tell me about. Since I bought it I have had to replace the 2.4 engine at 80,000 and now I have a rod knocking at 100,000. The vehicle gets routine oil changes, has never been over-revved and has never overheated. But yet I am looking at yet another engine swap. I baby this 4 cylinder and it still went pear shaped. Where is the Pontiac of old?
2.13 out of 5 stars
Don't Buy One
Upset Owner,06/18/2003
SE 2dr Coupe
Two blown head gaskets in under 30,000 miles, do I need to say any more? I forgot to mention that it had to be return after 4 miles for a loose wheel. There are too many small problems to list.
2.75 out of 5 stars
CRAP CAR
MELINDA,05/15/2002
GT 2dr Coupe
AT FIRST THE CAR WAS GREAT BUT ONCE I HIT THE FIRST YEAR MARK THINGS STARTED GOING WRONG AND FALLING APART. THE DASH WAS ORIGINALLY INSTALLED INCORRECT AND CANNOT BE FIXED, THE ROATERS ARE SHOT AND NEED REPLACED. NOW AT THREE YEARS I AM GETTING RID OF IT BECAUSE IT IS BURNING AND LEAKING EVERY FLUID UNDER THE HOOD. BECAUSE OF ALL THE PROBLEMS IT SUCKS GAS AND I AM SPENDING MORE ON GAS PER MONTH THAN MY CAR PAYMENT. ALL THE BURNING FLUIDS EMITS FUMES THAT ARE WORSE THAN DRIVING BEHIND A DESIL SEMITRUCK.. I WILL NEVER BUY PONTIAC AGAIN AND AM LOOKING TO SELL AS SOON AS POSSIBLE!!!
4.25 out of 5 stars
I like my car!
Melanie,10/17/2007
SE 2dr Coupe
I have to say that I have enjoyed this vehicle and was pleased with its reliability. Do buy the extended warranty, though, as things can go amiss. Muffler still new however I've had to replace the big muffler brackets a couple of times. Bit of a gas guzzler. This past year leaves me with a problem with the driver's side door lock - any cold or condensation makes it virtually impossible to unlock. Apparently this is an ongoing issue with the Sunfire. After replacing the tumbler, then the hinges and lubing the door clasp, I am hoping this winter will be better and I won't have to climb in over the stick shift through the passenger side. I trust my car and it's been very good to me.

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 1999 Pontiac Sunfire

Used 1999 Pontiac Sunfire Overview

The Used 1999 Pontiac Sunfire is offered in the following submodels: Sunfire Sedan, Sunfire Coupe, Sunfire Convertible. Available styles include GT 2dr Convertible, SE 4dr Sedan, GT 2dr Coupe, and SE 2dr Coupe. Pre-owned Pontiac Sunfire models are available with a 2.4 L-liter gas engine or a 2.2 L-liter gas engine, with output up to 150 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 1999 Pontiac Sunfire comes with front wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 5-speed manual.

What's a good price on a Used 1999 Pontiac Sunfire?

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Which used 1999 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) 1999 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 1999 Pontiac Sunfire.

Can't find a used 1999 Pontiac Sunfires you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Pontiac Sunfire for sale - 2 great deals out of 7 listings starting at $12,500.

Find a used Pontiac for sale - 2 great deals out of 18 listings starting at $19,152.

Find a used certified pre-owned Pontiac Sunfire for sale - 10 great deals out of 23 listings starting at $25,304.

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Should I lease or buy a 1999 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.

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Check out Pontiac Sunfire lease specials