2009 Pontiac Vibe

- Brand-new second generation version of Pontiac's entry-level wagony hatchback
- Shares just about everything but body panels (including powertrains, mechanicals, underpinnings, and assembly plant) with the new 2009 Toyota Matrix (which is itself based on the Toyota Corolla platform)
- On sale in late January/early February 2008; pricing to be announced in December 2007
- Sportier GT and more surefooted AWD models return to the Vibe lineup, accompanying the base trim level
- Base engine is a DOHC 1.8-liter four-cylinder making 132 hp and 128 lb-ft, GT and AWD models come with a DOHC 2.4-liter making 158 hp, 162 lb-ft.
- 2.4-liter, front-wheel drive cars have an available five-speed automatic transmission; 1.8-liter and AWD models have an optional four-speed automatic.
- Fuel economy figures should range from 26/32 mpg city/hwy (base, 1.8-liter, 5-speed manual) to 20/26 mpg (AWD, 2.4-liter, auto)
- Same wheelbase as the previous model, but new model is wider and not as long
- XM radio, OnStar, stability control, auxiliary audio jack, and six air bags are all standard equipment
- 0 to 60 mph in 8.4 seconds (GT)
- Launched on November 6, 2007, at an invitation-only/Internet-simulcast event at downtown Detroit's Fillmore Theater; the Vibe will make its auto show debut at L.A. (where GM won't be paying inflated rates for audience chairs and a setup crew for a fancy, theatrical press conference)

Pontiac (marketing director Craig Bierley) says: "It has the interior room and cargo capability expected of a larger SUV, but with the precise handling characteristics you would expect from any Pontiac."

We say: Cars like the Vibe are extremely useful and affordable, but the Mazda3 provides some very stiff competition. As with the previous model, this Vibe is a good way for budget-minded, patriotic Americans to get a domestic badge on a versatile Japanese hatchback.

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