Home » The Pontiac Vibe Was Very Nearly Flawless: GM Hit Or Miss

The Pontiac Vibe Was Very Nearly Flawless: GM Hit Or Miss

Pontiac Vibe Topshot
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Who doesn’t love private label goods? Whether a great deal on laundry detergent or a set of otherwise-expensive speakers sold at a discount, we can all appreciate getting a deal, and that can extend to cars too. Today, we’re discussing a car that Automobile once described as “far and away the best small car from General Motors.” So what is it? No, it’s not the fantastically stingy Geo Metro, or even the excellent Chevrolet Prizm. It’s actually a car that, as the great David Tracy put it, we’re all underestimating. You already know what’s going on: A Pontiac Vibe check. Welcome back to GM Hit or Miss, where we have a crack at the great claw machine that was pre-bankruptcy GM product planning in search of greatness.

To understand the Vibe, we must go back to early-1980s California, where malaise at GM’s Fremont plant was running high. As the man in charge of Fremont Union Local 364 at the time, Bruce Lee (no, not that one), told This American Life, “It was considered the worst workforce in the automobile industry in the United States. And it was a reputation that was well-earned.” Ouch. Allegations of working under the influence, gambling on-site, sexual activity while on the clock, and absenteeism plagued the plant, and eventually, GM had enough. In 1982, the automaker fired everyone at Fremont and shut the facility down.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

Chevrolet Cavalier

While the Fremont fracas was going on, General Motors wasn’t exactly at the top of the small car game. At the same time that Toyota had Tercel, Corolla, and Camry, GM had Chevette, Cavalier [Editor’s Note: I had a girlfriend with one of these. What a heap. She eventually hit a deer and totaled it, and got a ’70s Dodge Duster as a replacement. It was so much better, and it was also garbage. It was also the only car I ever towed in my Beetle. – JT] , and Citation. It shouldn’t be surprising that shoppers found the reliable, well-built Toyotas more appealing, and in the wake of the oil crisis, Toyota gained significant market share. So much market share, in fact, that the influx of Japanese cars scared the American automakers and government, leading to voluntary import restrictions.

Then came the lightbulb moment: By repurposing the Fremont plant as a joint venture, Toyota could build cars in America to bypass import restrictions without having to build a plant from scratch, and GM could pick up some captive imports while learning all about the Toyota Production System, a lean way of manufacturing that was taking the world by storm. A deal was struck, and a new company was created: The New United Motor Manufacturing Inc., or NUMMI for short.

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Chevrolet Nova

In 1984, NUMMI opened its doors as a great experiment in automotive manufacturing. Adding a dose of trepidation, This American Life reports that many employees were the exact same people who were fired from Fremont under GM. It seems like a bold strategy when taken at face value, but Fremont was still a United Auto Workers unionized plant and the gamble was that power structures were at fault for Fremont’s reputation, not the workers themselves. By prioritizing collaboration and fairness, Toyota believed it could pull this once-notorious plant out of the muck.

By 1986, NUMMI’s product quality was near or at the level of Toyota’s Takaoka, Japan plant, scoring 3.6 to 3.8 in the Consumer Reports Reliability Index while Takaoka products scored 3.8 to 4.0. That’s an astonishing feat, especially when you learn that products built in GM’s Framingham, Mass. plant in 1986 scored between 2.1 and 3.0 on the same scale. It was an incredibly smart idea for GM to team up with Toyota, although decades of tradition and labor tensions made it difficult to implement the Toyota Production System in other GM plants.

Pontiac Vibe Gt 1

After several hits like the Chevrolet Nova (a Toyota Corolla), the Geo Prizm (a Toyota Corolla), and the Chevrolet Prizm (also a Toyota Corolla), NUMMI started up production of its best GM-badged product for 2003 — the original Pontiac Vibe. I’ve racked up literally thousands of miles on these and their Toyota Matrix sister cars, and to this day, they fill the compact and practical niche better than almost anything else.

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Pontiac Vibe Profile

Despite its Japanese underpinnings, the first-generation Pontiac Vibe was an extremely American car. Its standard engine came from Virginia, its panels were pressed on-site, plastics were molded in NUMMI’s on-site plastic facility, and everything came together in a unionized plant. Sure, some of the parts may have said Denso on them, but the Vibe was like driving a slice of apple pie.

What’s more, the Vibe was actually better than its Toyota Matrix counterpart. Pontiac wanted this little wagon to be a feature-rich vehicle, so even the base model was comprehensively equipped. I’m talking about air conditioning with a cabin filter, fog lamps, a 115-volt outlet to run small appliances, and an adjustable roof rack. Sure, power windows and power door locks were still part of an option package, but Toyota was so cheap that a base Matrix didn’t even come with decals to black out its B-pillars.

Pontiac Vibe Cargo Area 1

Open the Vibe’s hatch and you’ll find the entire cargo area lined in durable, hardwearing, stain-resistant plastic. Sure, anything damp would turn the whole thing into a Slip-N-Slide, but anything dirty would just wipe off. Plus, the front passenger seat folded flat and was plastic-backed, meaning Vibe owners could pick up lumber without renting a truck. Owner could even lift just the rear glass to accommodate long, slim loads or easily drop shopping into the cargo area without opening the hatch. Granted, the struts on said rear glass can wear out quickly if you cheap out on replacements, but experience with quality units suggests they should last several years. Under the cargo area sat an enormous plastic organizer for everything from jumper leads to bandages, whatever you might need on the road. It’s an impressive piece of tiered storage that doesn’t really have a modern equivalent.

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Pontiac Vibe Interior 2

Pop all the seats back up and you’ll find a surprisingly low driving position somewhat at odds with the Vibe’s tall silhouette. It’s a car you sit in rather than on, which is good because an enthusiastic driver can invoke near-nautical body roll in particularly spirited cornering. Dial things down a notch and you’ll find enough passenger space for four fully-grown adults to peacefully coexist on a road trip, and enough headroom for each occupant to wear a 50-gallon hat. Sure, the steering wheel sits a bit too close to the dashboard for most drivers, but for the Vibe’s era and sub-$20,000 price tag when new, that’s not the worst trade-off.

Pontiac Vibe Interior 1

Look past the steering wheel and you’ll find fancy electroluminescent gauges buried deep in the instrument binnacle. Admittedly, the team messed up a bit for the 2003 model year when it decided that everything on every gauge face should be red, but that got fixed in 2004 with white numeric increments to enhance legibility. Speaking of user-friendliness, all center stack controls from the head unit to the HVAC panel sit high on the dashboard within easy reach of the driver, handy for minimizing distraction.

Although the Vibe is fairly utilitarian, it’s easy to forget how nice its cabin was by the standards of the day. Keep in mind, modern soft-touch plastics hadn’t yet proliferated the small car market in 2003, but that didn’t mean a life of grey boredom. Splashes of silver plastic and chrome adorned the dashboard and door cards, while fabric trim also did its part to liven up an entry-level interior. Sure, the plastics on the dashboard and door cards were hard, but the graining was tighter than a wingwalker’s harness and the coloring dark, ensuring a nice look. The Vibe is still a textbook example of how hardwearing materials can still look good with a little bit of thought and care.

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Pontiac Vibe Navigation System

Springing beyond the basics of the interior, the Vibe’s options list generally consisted of stuff you’d never expect to find in a small car of the time. A 200-watt audio system isn’t immensely powerful by today’s standards but was leagues better than most tinny systems of the time, and you could even pair it with the luxury audio feature of the era, XM satellite radio. Side airbags, a six-disc CD changer, and a DVD navigation system were also on the options list, and aside from heated seats, who could really want more than that?

Pontiac Vibe 1

So what was the Vibe like to drive? Well, it depends on which Vibe you bought. The base model with the economy-minded low-output 1ZZ-FE engine was adequate. Sure, the engine sounded strained like it was pushing out an enormous number two when attempting a charge to redline, but the Vibe would get you wherever you wanted to go no problem. Ride quality from the standard MacPherson strut front and torsion beam rear suspension was very good for the segment and the time, steering was quick if numb, and fuel economy was pretty average. However, if you wanted a little more excitement, the Vibe GT was eager to please.

Pontiac Vibe Gt Engine

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So the top-shelf sports bus Vibe still has a 1.8-liter naturally-aspirated four-cylinder engine. What’s the big deal? Well, the Vibe GT had the Yamaha-codeveloped 2ZZ-GE inline-four, and its party pieces were variable cam lift and a screaming 8,200 rpm redline. For 2003, this engine made a stout 180 horsepower all the way up at 7,600 rpm, and put that power down through a six-speed manual gearbox. Sure, the torque band is way up in the rev range, but hit the cam switchover around 6,000 rpm and it’s like a million furious hornets awaken to the whoosh of induction noise. Hold on all the way to redline to keep it in the power band, grab another gear, and grin from ear-to-ear like your name’s Aphex Twin. How’s that for a way to liven up a commute?

Pontiac Vibe Awd

However, what if your commute is up a mountain? What if you drive a snowplough and need a vehicle that can get to the plough before the roads are clear? Fear not, Pontiac did offer an all-wheel-drive Vibe with independent rear suspension, although it came with two caveats: The only engine option was a reduced-output version of the base 1ZZ-FE four-cylinder and the only gearbox available was a four-speed automatic.

Pontiac Vibe 2

In fairness, the Vibe did have two problems, but one was more of an annoyance than a catastrophically expensive issue. Toyota, in its infinite wisdom, decided to cut costs on the gauge cluster and have the odometer max out at 299,999. This was mildly annoying for Americans as it’s not uncommon for these cars to last for 300,000 miles, but it was catastrophic for Canadians because, like the vast majority of the world, measure distance traveled in kilometers. The second issue is reliability of the base five-speed manual gearboxes, primarily in pre-facelift models. Numerous owner complaints have been logged with NHTSA over premature transmission bearing failure, including one that states:

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2003 PONTIAC VIBE 5-SPEED. TRANSMISSION BEARINGS FAILED, CAUSING THE TRANSMISSION TO GRIND ITSELF UP AND STRAND THE CAR. FLUID CHANGED EVERY 30K MILES. FIRST TRANSMISSION DIED AT 70K MILES AND THE SECOND ONE NOW DIED AT 110K MILES. THIRD TRANSMISSION GETTING INSTALLED TO CORRECT A FAULTY DESIGN. BUYING A BRAND NEW ONE THIS TIME AND IT HAS COST ME THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS SO FAR. *TR

Odometer and gearbox problems aside, the Pontiac Vibe was so good that Toyota rebadged it as the Voltz and sold it in Japan from July of 2002 until July of 2004. It even made cameos in Gran Turismo 4, Gran Turismo 5, and Gran Turismo 6. GM, with Toyota’s help, built a genuinely world-class compact car at the same time as the General churned out the sad, plasticky 2003 Chevrolet Cavalier. How’s that for astonishing?

Second Gen

In 2008, Pontiac introduced the second-generation Vibe, which sadly converged with its Matrix sibling when it came to equipment. While Pontiac did manage to carve out an extra 0.3 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats, features like air conditioning and fog lamps that came standard on the original Vibe were now optional.

Second Gen Rear

Sadly, things fell apart for the Pontiac Vibe and indeed for NUMMI in GM’s bankruptcy. As part of the restructuring plan, Pontiac was to be shelved altogether, cutting the Vibe’s lifespan short. In June 2009, the New York Times reported that GM pulled out of NUMMI, and Toyota wasn’t going to be left holding the bag for long. On April 1, 2010, Toyota built its last-ever car at NUMMI, a red 2010 Corolla as reported by Motor Trend. Despite the death of the plant and indeed the Vibe, NUMMI’s legacy lives on in a surprising way. In May of 2010, a small Californian start-up manufacturing sports cars bought the facility from Toyota. You may have heard of it, a little company called Tesla.

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The Pontiac Vibe was a massive hit, a solid little wagon perfect for day-to-day use. Practical, efficient, well-priced, and well-equipped, it set a standard that few small utility vehicles have lived up to. Even Toyota seems like it can’t make this sort of vehicle again. Thankfully, although it took more than a decade, GM seems to have learned from the success of the Vibe. The new Chevrolet Trax is a near-perfect successor, save for the absence of a few enthusiast-focused items like a manual gearbox or a hi-po engine option. Not that it will tempt many current Vibe owners, of course. When you have a paid-off car that’s this excellent of an all-rounder, why switch it up?

(Photo credits: Pontiac, Chevrolet)

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Eric John Planey
Eric John Planey
10 months ago

We miss our 05 Vibe AWD all the time (tho we like the Crosstrek we bought as the replacement). It was the greatest combo of practical there was. And the original 03-04 fascia looked great. I’d argue if an OEM came out with that exact design today, it would feel fresh and relevant.

I think Pontiac could have considered a GXP version for its Gen 2: AWD, but with the Cobalt SS’ supercharged 4 cylinder. That would have been an incredible ride.

Chi_spotting
Chi_spotting
10 months ago

Best car I’ve ever owned and will continue to own until I die.

Daniel MacDonald
Daniel MacDonald
11 months ago

My fiance is still rockin’ a 2005 with 155K. Solid little car-though at 6’5″ I don’t fit comfortably in the driver’s seat (purely the relationship of seat to steering) I’m actually pretty comfortable in the passenger’s seat.This article is dead on though, similar to many Toyotas it’s very competent but lacks that sparkle that would actually make it “fun.” It’s been very reliable in the 10 years she’s owned it and basically everything still works with very low maintenance costs. Doesn’t even leak or use oil. However for the enthusiast I highly recommend a similar year Mazda 3 hatch, very nearly as reliable with a much better and more powerful engine that actually likes to rev and arguably nicer interior-and a genuinely sporty suspension with some of the best FWD steering feel I’ve encountered. (I owned a 2004 when we first met and have driven these two back quite a bit.)

Mike B
Mike B
11 months ago

My mom bought one of these new right after they first came out. She was originally thinking PT Cruiser, but I told her to check out this new Pontiac hatchback that was about to come out. She did, and LOVED it. She got TONS of compliments and questions about it, she got hers in ’02 before they were at all common.

She still has it, it’s sitting just under 200k but is in bad shape due to lack of use. She had bought a Cadillac SRX in 2014 or so and passed it on to my sister, who eventually bought a newer car and gave the Vibe back to my mom. It’s been a driveway ornament ever since. Last time my dad and I messed with it, we had to use his truck to push it down the driveway because the brakes were frozen.

I really liked driving the car, and it is a perfect little utility vehicle. I often think of picking one up as a commuter/moutainbike hauler to keep the miles off my 4Runner.

DJ Odom
DJ Odom
11 months ago

My mom bought a vibe new in 04. She’s North of 290k miles, and the only non-regular maintenance item she had to deal with was a driver window that broke off the track a couple years ago.

David R
David R
11 months ago

ooo my time to shine!

The Costco Pumpkin Pie carrying capacity of a 2004 Toyota Matrix XR is 113 pies!

https://imgur.com/a/Fg0QTLh

lastwraith
lastwraith
11 months ago

This article is about as close as I will get to having my DD (Vibe) featured online.
My best friend’s actual car was featured in a Jalop NPOCP article though, which I got super excited about at the time. He had to sell/donate it when moving (no room for it) and apparently Jalopnik picked it up when the dealer was trying to unload it. The thing actually did have 75k miles and was in great shape for it’s age because my friend rarely drove it (my car always got better mpg) and his grandma had been the only owner before him. He owned it for approximately 21 yrs and she had it about the first 20 years of its life.
https://jalopnik.com/at-2-750-would-you-blow-into-town-to-buy-this-1979-me-1843950843

Last edited 11 months ago by lastwraith
Acorddrvr
Acorddrvr
11 months ago

So, the base zz engine was built in West Virginia, not east Virginia, fwiw. I bought a used ’05 standard, was a fun car to drive! My son wanted it, so I gave it to him. Was upset that he traded it in before giving me a chance to buy it from him.

Brunsworks
Brunsworks
11 months ago

I’m contemplating replacing my current daily, and if Toyota were to start making an updated Matrix, that would top my short list. The Corolla Cross is as close as they get, though.

The Dude
The Dude
11 months ago
Reply to  Brunsworks

They have the Corolla Hatchback and while it’s not exactly the same, It does sort of carry on in offering a similar package.

Andrew Cooper
Andrew Cooper
11 months ago

We just added a third vibe to the family after a piece on the other site by torch made us buy two. We love them! Near perfect car and wish they still made them! I’ve considered buying the last gen matrix for that reason, but you have to pay the Toyota tax for that.
One vibe is 155k the other 248k. No real issues.
On the other hand I bought a 73vw sand rail last week because of Jason’s love of air cooled Volkswagens…. So, maybe my judgement isn’t the best?

Usernametaken
Usernametaken
11 months ago

Because no one else has mentioned it, the Matrix takes the win solely on the strength that Toyota had the foresight to put some inset rubber stripping all along the load area (including the seat back) so stuff wouldn’t slide around. There were also more cargo lashing rings.

Warcabbit
Warcabbit
11 months ago

God, I miss Whatis, my ’03 XRS. With a little suspension work, the six speed, and a tiny amount of work, she was running near-200 horse. No Miata but just fine for autocross.

And, of course, the trunk ate everything. I fit 53 computers (sff) in it once, and on the way back, made my boss’ M3 eat taillights. Not great off the line, but once you’re rolling, you’re rolling.

Generalistgrant
Generalistgrant
11 months ago

I have an ’05 Matrix XRS.

The engine feels so aggressively raw, and lively, its roars through the revs with an incredible induction noise over 4000k on wide open throttle, and only gets more intense up to the VVTL-i cam change over at 6800 rpm (later ones had a higher change over point) and then it absolutely screams to the 8200 rpm redline. Just an lovely, visceral experience to go through, and that whole sequence is only to be going like 50 mph. That 2ZZ, Yamaha did their engineering magic on it, it feels so easy to rev, it’s like it lives to be driven like this. And yet…

You shift and realize the clutch action and the stock shifter are truly terrible, numb, vague, and it brings the experience down a bit (aftermarket short shifter for these is quite nice however). Then you settle in for your drive and realize the seating position is weird, the seat has very little lumbar support, the wheel is way too far away, even if your legs are in the right spot, and the seat feels way too high even after being completely lowered. With the seat lowered all the way, you realize how high the roof is, and while that does give it a quite nice greenhouse of visibility, it does not feel sporty. It makes that screaming Yamaha engine seems like was the victim of some kind of botched heart swap from an actual performance car, which isn’t terribly far from the truth.

I could keep going on, the idiotic decision to not regear this drivetrain for a heavier car with taller tires, the face that it has some egg shaped Prius body lines, it has some actually quite handsome body lines, you can fit an absurd amount of stuff into the back of one, the shifter position is perfect, the stock 17″ XRS wheels look fantastic, so on and so on… so yeah I have very mixed feelings for this car. I would call it a miss for GM and Toyota, it just has too many not-quites for it to be great.

Myk El
Myk El
11 months ago

My brother is now on his 3rd Vibe, all used. First hit the 300K odometer issue and had spent its life in Michigan, sold it just last year. That had been his son’s car to start college, but it wasn’t trustworthy for long trips, so Vibe 2 became my nephew’s car and still is. He got #3 about two months ago. My brother doesn’t like buying new. Vibes are just great all-around cars, so he was super happy to find another good one.

John Crouch
John Crouch
11 months ago

We bought a Red Vibe GT 6 Sp as an interim car while we searched for a manual Volvo V50 AWD R spec. It was a fantastic car more powerful than expected and the 6000 RPM change over was fantastic, warp speed Mr. Sulu. Loved it. Super easy to wrench on too. Still own the Volvo BTW and it’s a great driver.

Thomas Benham
Thomas Benham
11 months ago

I bought a 12 year old base model Vibe 8 years ago. 1ZZ 5MT drivetrain. I’ve just about worn it out and midwest winters and a water leak from a poorly replaced windshield have caused terminal rust but she’s been a trooper. I’m keeping an eye out for a 2ZZ model, before all the manuals are gone.

Ben
Ben
11 months ago

Plus, the front passenger seat folded flat and was plastic-backed, meaning Vibe owners could pick up lumber without renting a truck.

Maybe in theory, but in practice the Vibe was so short that I actually had an easier time hauling long stuff in my Sunfire than in my parents’ Vibe.

Pop all the seats back up and you’ll find a surprisingly low driving position somewhat at odds with the Vibe’s tall silhouette. It’s a car you sit in rather than on…

This is not at all what I remember about our Vibe. It had a weirdly tall and upright seating position that I was not entirely fond of. I guess it did have plenty of headroom even for me so maybe the seats were lower than I remember, but a sports car it was not. I very much felt like I was perched on top of the car.

Peter Andruskiewicz
Peter Andruskiewicz
11 months ago
Reply to  Ben

I don’t know about your problem with length (hehe, jk) but I’ve used it to move everything in my apartment a couple times, including an Ikea queen loft bed and about 7′ poles to support it.

As for the driving position though, I agree, it always felt like they kept the dashboard in the same place as the Corolla but had an extra 4 or 6″under the seats. The extra door sill height helped the overall feeling and was a good height to rest an arm, and I liked how much you looked down the dashboard and across the hood for great visibility (reminded me of an early 90s Civic or Integra in that way), but the seat to steering wheel and dash relationship was still a little odd

lastwraith
lastwraith
11 months ago

Yeah, there’s over 7ft of interior length without popping the glass or the hatch. I don’t see how a Sunfire would have more interior length available for cargo. True the Sunfire is 10″ longer overall but it’s a sedan and the interior cargo space is far inferior.

Alexk98
Alexk98
11 months ago

About 3 years ago a non-car guy friend of mine bought an 06 Matrix XRS, and man was that engine a peach. The cam change over was just as aggressive as an old school VTEC system, and it was the most rev happy little thing I’ve ever had the pleasure of piloting. Sure the 6 speed didn’t have the best feel, but the interior had held up well over several owner, and even with 130k miles, drove better than several barely used cars I’ve been in over the years. I’ve been on the hunt for a decent Vibe GT or Matrix XRS ever since, but they all are pushing 200k+ miles, or are absolutely battered. Maybe one day I’ll get lucky, but man are these exceptional little cars.

Dinklesmith
Dinklesmith
11 months ago

If they had one of these today as a PHEV I’d buy it tomorrow

lastwraith
lastwraith
11 months ago

My daily is an ’07 Red Vibe without the “moon and tunes” package. It is mostly a great car.
I bought it because it was one of few options that had good gas mileage, small stature for parking in busy areas, and fantastic cargo hauling for its size. Not to mention that it’s effectively a Toyota Corolla hatch, so it’ll probably outlive me somehow.
It doesn’t hurt that these cars are still cheap for what they are and insurance rates are basically nothing as well.
My only complaints are that as a relatively tall driver with legs, I don’t find the driver’s seat particularly comfortable and my fwd version will spin the front tires just about anywhere because it’s geared to be a little “jumpy”. My wife’s Subaru claws the road at all times in comparison, to no one’s surprise. But the Vibe doesn’t leak oil and probably won’t need a head gasket like the older Subie so YMMV.
It’s a great car overall – I’ve hauled things inside that no one thought would fit because of the intelligent seat folding design (including passenger) with flat floor, cargo cleats, and glass hatch that can separately open to allow really really long cargo. In the rare event something won’t fit INSIDE, a $50 crossbar set off Amazon (or wherever) and you can plunk it on the roof instead! All while getting MPG in the upper 20s without even trying.

Last edited 11 months ago by lastwraith
Peter Andruskiewicz
Peter Andruskiewicz
11 months ago

These are definitely great vehicles. I was helping my mom find a new family car for hauling the dogs, artwork etc around 2006 or so. My parents aren’t car people at all, and we originally went to the Toyota dealer to look at a lightly used matrix, but they pulled a bait and switch and didn’t actually have it. They also took my mom’s driver’s license and refused to return it, look around in other dealers inventory for a different matrix, and were really pushing a lease on a RAV4 or something for considerably more… Typical shady dealer crap. Threatening to call the police and informing them we were heading across town to the Pontiac dealer, since the Vibe was functionally identical eventually shut them up and got us out of there (as did some theatrics to scare some other potential customers out the door too). Anyway, she ended up with a 2003 Vibe GT with the 6 speed, all for less than the advertised price on the “missing” matrix, and that car was phenomenal.

I’d always steal the keys when back from college and the RX7 was off insurance/in storage. Winding it out past 6000 rpm was a blast, you could really feel the cam profile switchover, the gearbox was very close-ratio and enjoyable to use, it was light enough to be a lot of fun on back roads or on ramps, and did everything they asked of it for over a decade and 170k miles. In that time it was a beast:
– it went through a couple clutches (my dad never got the hang of this and was brutal on standing starts and gear shifts)
– they ran out of of gearbox oil when driving out to MI to visit and it sounded like they replaced the gears with gravel (but draining the old fluid-all 3 glittery drops of it-and putting fresh fluid in while at our campsite solved that)
– a minor fender bender that shattered the corner of the bumper cover (I stitched it up drifter/Frankenstein’s monster style and added some black paint eyeliner around the headlight where the fender was also dented and rusting, and it got tons of positive attention that way)
– finally a bad overheating incident when driven by a friend of my mom’s and subsequent misdiagnosis by their mechanic lead to a blown head gasket, milkshake oil and a slight bottom end knock, which spelled the death of that car.

We still fondly remember that car, it was a little known gem from GM pre-bankruptcy

Preston Tiegs
Preston Tiegs
11 months ago

For years, the Vibe has been my go-to recommendation for people that want Toyota reliability, but don’t want to pay Toyota prices.

No Kids, Just Bikes
No Kids, Just Bikes
11 months ago

My wife just inherited a maroon 2007 Vibe. She’s not a car person and mostly shrugged at the ‘upgrade’ from her 2005 Corolla. My exclamations of ‘this is almost as rad as an Element but with much better gas mileage’ elicit more shrugs.

Shame it’s another 1zz, but I will take the reliability.

Fredzy
Fredzy
11 months ago

Sometimes I think about how different my life would be if I would have given the Vibe GT or Matrix XRS a second look back in 2004 when I bought my first new car. Instead of jumping from new car to new car every few years like I did for a decade, I’d probably still have that thing and would have had a dream car or two a lot earlier than it worked out for me in reality.

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