2003 Pontiac Vibe Review

Pros & Cons

  • Crisp handling, unique features, utilitarian design.
  • All-wheel-drive version is sluggish, Toyota's version likely to have better resale value.
Other years
List Price
$7,495

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Edmunds' Expert Review

Here's one Pontiac that looks to have hit its mark. The Vibe blends performance, practicality and affordability into a tastefully styled, but still fun, sport wagon package.

Vehicle overview

The Vibe is an all-new sport wagon from Pontiac that blends the handling of a small sedan with the practicality of a five-door hatchback. At just 171 inches long, the Vibe is slightly shorter than a Honda Civic sedan, but with a taller and wider body, it promises plenty of room inside.

Three models are offered: base, GT and AWD. Starting at $16,900, the base model comes standard with air conditioning, dual front airbags, AM/FM CD stereo, tilt steering and tinted windows. A 1.8-liter four-cylinder rated at 130 horsepower sends power to the front wheels through either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission. Sixteen-inch steel wheels are standard, with 17-inch aluminum sport wheels optional.

All-wheel-drive (AWD) models feature the same equipment as the base model, except for the optional five-speed manual transmission. Power is routed through the automatic transmission to the front wheels under normal conditions, but when slippage is detected, the rear wheels engage until traction is regained. AWD models also get a fully independent rear suspension for even better control on rough roads. Unfortunately, the added weight of the all-wheel-drive system combined with the automatic transmission makes the AWD version a bit sluggish. Unless you absolutely need the extra traction for bad weather, we would recommend sticking with the base version, or our favorite, the Vibe GT.

The GT serves up maximum fun with a 180-horsepower version of the same Toyota-sourced 1.8-liter four-cylinder found in the base and AWD models. A six-speed manual transmission comes standard along with four-wheel disc brakes, 16-inch aluminum wheels and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. With only 2,800 pounds to lug around, the Vibe GT moves out quickly, but the peaky engine does require plenty of revs before it makes serious power.

All Vibe models feature interiors that are both stylish and functional. Chrome-ringed gauges and metallic dash trim spice things up in front, while in back, the 60/40-split bench seat folds completely flat to create 57.2 cubic feet of usable cargo space. Other useful features include a front passenger seat that folds flat for carrying extra-long items, a 115-volt AC power outlet for plugging in household devices and adjustable tie down anchors in the cargo area.

If those features aren't enough, numerous options are available. Add the "Moon and Tunes" package to get a power glass sunroof and 200-watt six-speaker premium audio system, or check the "Power Value" package to add electric windows, locks, and mirrors along with cruise control and keyless entry. Other premium options include a DVD-based satellite navigation system, seat-mounted side airbags and an in-dash six-disc CD changer.

Built alongside its sister car, the Toyota Matrix, in a jointly run manufacturing facility in Fremont, Calif., the Vibe promises top-notch build quality in addition to sporty performance and practicality. Competition in the sport wagon segment is growing quickly, but the Vibe's combination of unique features, a proven drivetrain and tasteful styling makes it a valuable addition to the Pontiac lineup.

2003 Highlights

The Vibe is an all-new model in Pontiac's lineup designed to combine the best attributes of an SUV, a station wagon and a small van. Thankfully, the result is rather attractive and hip, not to mention utilitarian.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2003 Pontiac Vibe.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

Swiss Army Car
Pravin Shah,12/15/2016
GT Fwd 4dr Wagon (1.8L 4cyl 6M)
Big enough for my sons to sit in the back. Great cargo room. Handles excellent, fast, good visibility. I take it winter camping with its 9 inch ground clearance. Can put a tent on the back and easily sleep in it. Got it at 25,000, it now has 263,000. Replaced water pump clutch and starter. That's it. Engine starts on first key turn even at -10f. Runs like a top...best engine I ever had in a car. I'll NEVER find one this fast, this economical and this utilitarian, even to the roof rack. Just a fantastic car. (Update June 2018) 276,000 mi. Runs so strong it's uncanny. I haved used valvoline full synthetic for 225,000 mi, and it runs like it did 15 years ago. This winter it sat outside in -5f for three weeks, started on first turn in 5 seconds. (Update Jan 2019) 290,000 mi. Runs great, engine sounds eager and ready and just broken in. Great GREAT car. And fast as bejeezus for a little old beer can. Love this vehicle. Tent on its hatch, 9 inch ground clearance... it's camping season. (Jan 2020) Drove width of U.S. a couple times in 2019... Wisconsin to Niagara Falls via Ontario, to Wisconsin, - to Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Wash State, to Wisconsin, - to Colorado, to Wisconsin. Drove Glacier Park, Yellowstone, Tetons, Rocky Mt Park... and took it up to 14000 feet on Mt Evans. Slept in it, camped in it, drove 4x4 mountain roads in The Grand Tetons. 310,000 miles on car so far. It won't die.
2003 Pontiac Vibe GT
gclaiborne,03/01/2012
I bought this car about 3 years ago with 111,000 miles on it. Now has 160,000 and it's definitely been the best and most fun car I've ever driven. I average 30 mpg and love the 1.8 Liter Toyota high performance engine with the 6 speed manual.
14 Years, 196K Miles, Cross Country, Going Strong!
Leo S,10/30/2016
Fwd 4dr Wagon (1.8L 4cyl 5M)
My brand new post-college car was bought in Virginia in late 2002 though it is a 2003 model. I drove it cross country twice--once with a U-Haul headed west bound during which I had to go over the Rockies! The only major item I fixed was the catalytic converter at about 150K miles. Got the routine maintenance done almost on time, but mostly late half the time. New tires at around 100K miles. The annoyances: 3 plastic handles broke in the Texas heat/cold cycle in 2015/2016, but I was able to replace them on my own with new handles I ordered online at $15 each. The ride on the Texas highways are noisy -- really depends on the type of road you're on. I upgraded the entertainment system to a bluetooth capable system. It was awesome in California, zippy enough to handle LA traffic. It survived driving through winter storms in Virginia, and doing a little light off-roading in Virginia and California. I have over 30mpg on long trips. The worst was about 13mpg hauling the u-haul trailer up the Rockies to Denver.
The little car that could.
Ray McJunkin,11/13/2016
AWD 4dr Wagon (1.8L 4cyl 4A)
I have been driving this car for over 13-years and it has never failed me. It is not a rocket by any means, but it will get you to where you want to go. It is comfortable to drive and easy to get in and out of.

Features & Specs

See all Used 2003 Pontiac Vibe features & specs

Safety

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    Rollover4 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated

More about the 2003 Pontiac Vibe

Used 2003 Pontiac Vibe Overview

The Used 2003 Pontiac Vibe is offered in the following submodels: Vibe Wagon. Available styles include Fwd 4dr Wagon (1.8L 4cyl 5M), AWD 4dr Wagon (1.8L 4cyl 4A), and GT Fwd 4dr Wagon (1.8L 4cyl 6M).

What's a good price on a Used 2003 Pontiac Vibe?

Price comparisons for Used 2003 Pontiac Vibe trim styles:

  • The Used 2003 Pontiac Vibe Base is priced between $7,495 and$7,495 with odometer readings between 130605 and130605 miles.

Shop with Edmunds for perks and special offers on used cars, trucks, and SUVs near Ashburn, VA. Doing so could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Edmunds also provides consumer-driven dealership sales and service reviews to help you make informed decisions about what cars to buy and where to buy them.

Which used 2003 Pontiac Vibes 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) 2003 Pontiac Vibe for sale near. There are currently 1 used and CPO 2003 Vibes listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $7,495 and mileage as low as 130605 miles. 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 2003 Pontiac Vibe.

Can't find a used 2003 Pontiac Vibes you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Pontiac Vibe for sale - 11 great deals out of 15 listings starting at $17,607.

Find a used Pontiac for sale - 10 great deals out of 20 listings starting at $23,692.

Find a used certified pre-owned Pontiac Vibe for sale - 2 great deals out of 5 listings starting at $21,603.

Find a used certified pre-owned Pontiac for sale - 2 great deals out of 12 listings starting at $25,384.

Should I lease or buy a 2003 Pontiac Vibe?

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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