- The Washington Times - Friday, August 15, 2008

There’s a reason the 2009 Pontiac Vibe will attract buyers. This sporty-looking crossover seats five people like a sedan, yet is capable of being used for many purposes.

Flexibility and utility are the main reasons people used to buy the big sport utility vehicles, but in today’s market, big isn’t better, especially when it comes to fuel economy. That is one reason why manufacturers have downsized to this type of vehicle, which they now call crossovers.

There’s more to the Vibe than just being a crossover. The Vibe’s short body overhang, and the roof rack add visual appeal. My tester stood on the optional 17-inch aluminum chrome clad wheels wrapped in all-season tires and looked as solid as a rock. When I started to drive the Vibe, I quickly found its appearance was not deceptive.

The handling was so good, I checked with the Pontiac people and was told that it has a MacPherson strut front suspension and twist-beam rear suspension, producing a quiet ride, plus comfort and stable handling.



The rear torsion beam features 24mm front and 20mm rear stabilizer bars. In addition, Pontiac folks said the Vibe has StabiliTrak included as standard equipment.

These kinds of features made me feel safe and secure when speeding the Vibe over wiggly, winding roads. I almost felt like I was driving a sports car. However, the Vibe has numerous advantages compared to a sports car as it has pretty good storage space in the rear, and the backs of the rear seats can be lowered if more cargo space is needed. Even the front passenger seat can be lowered to accommodate extra long cargo. In addition, it has the favored roof racks of the SUV buying crowd.

When I had my laptop with me, I was able to charge it by using the 12-volt outlet in the center console area. It’s the center console area that contains many features that I’d expect to find in an upscale sedan, such as an AM/FM stereo with CD player and MP3 player, plus a premium seven-speaker 286-watt Monsoon sound system with an integrated subwoofer.

The 2009 Vibe has a base price of $18,910 and the bottom line for my tester was $22,615. The options included what is called a Sun and Sound Package: power sunroof, the seven-speaker sound system, leather-wrapped steering wheel and leather-wrapped shift knob. The options also included a remote keyless entry, power door locks, power windows, and cruise control and front and rear variable intermittent wipers. The 17-inch wheels were also included in the option package.

Even if you wanted to buy the Vibe without the options, you would get a pretty good package. It comes with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder DOHC engine that produces 258 horsepower linked to with a four-speed transmission.

The EPA mileage rating is 20 city and 26 highway. In addition, the standard equipment includes OnStar, which is a very desirable safety feature. It also has daytime running lights.

The Vibe has a strong air conditioning system that extends to the rear seat, plus the convenience of a tilt and telescopic steering wheel.

The standard feature I enjoyed most was XM Satellite radio. The first three month are free, and by then, you’ll be hooked on it and gladly pay for the commercial free service.

This 2009 model has yet to be rated by the government for crash tests, but my feeling is that it will rated pretty high for the vehicle is quite solid.

And these are just some of the reasons why the Vibe will be attracting many customers.

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