Wagons are few and far between on modern roads, shunted to the sidelines by the combined market forces of sport-utilities and minivans. When presented with the opportunity to move into a new class of vehicle in both the mid-1980s and 1990s, families voted with their dollars and in two huge waves devastated wagon sales in favor of the large, more utility-oriented automobiles. When crossovers began to achieve greater success at the beginning of the new millennium, they not only served to drive wagons further towards the brink of extinction, but they also began to blur the line between wagon and SUV as automakers started to experiment with a number of different styling and platform alternatives.
At the lower reaches of the market, wagons survived in compact form, with many of them finding themselves crossed with hatchbacks in order to increase the flexibility of both types of vehicles. Compact wagons were capable of offering the increased fuel economy of a small, lightweight vehicle but at the same time not compromising on hauling ability thanks to the extended 'trunk' of a wagon design. Popular in Europe and Japan, these vehicles also made somewhat of an impact in the United States, thanks to careful promotion by both Japanese and North American car companies.
One of the most interesting examples of cooperation between two of the largest automakers in the world involves one of these compact hatchback wagons. Toyota and General Motors had been in discussions regarding a deal that would see the American auto giant receive an influx of technology to help jumpstart their economy car program. The end result was the borrowing of the Toyota Matrix / Toyota Corolla platform and the building of the Pontiac Vibe. Produced at a facility that is run jointly by both corporations, the Vibe combined the traditional styling of the Pontiac brand with the strong mechanical underpinnings of the Matrix. This proved to be a winning formula for General Motors, and the Vibe has not only sold well for the company but it has helped them improve their overall corporate fuel economy.
This article talks about the best used wagon sold by Pontiac, the Vibe, and focuses on its features and specifications in order to help secondhand compact buyers decide if a Vibe should be parked in their driveway instead of a compact SUV. While much smaller than the traditional full-size wagons offered by Pontiac in the past, the Vibe certainly brings a unique and useful set of attributes to the table.
2003 - 2007 Pontiac Vibe
The pointed beak of the 2003 - 2007 Pontiac Vibe is one of the first things that sets it apart stylistically from the Pontiac wagons of days gone by. The Vibe abandons the squared-off styling that was so common during the heyday of wagons, with a roofline that slopes sharply rearward past the vehicle's B-pillar in addition to pronounced body cladding along the lower sills and all four fenders. While in profile the similarities are clearly there, Pontiac has taken care to differentiate the Vibe from its Toyota sibling the Matrix with styling that ropes the car firmly into the domestic camp.
In keeping with Pontiac's reputation, the Vibe can be ordered in three versions ranging from mild to wild. Families interested in basic transportation will undoubtedly be satisfied by the base Vibe, which features a 130 horsepower, 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine matched with a 5-speed manual transmission. A 4-speed automatic transmission can be ordered as an option. The all-wheel drive edition of the Vibe uses a slightly detuned 123 horsepower version of the same motor, and comes with the automatic transmission as a standard feature. The most exciting Vibe trim level is the GT, which not only features a sporty 6-speed transmission but also boosts production of the 4-banger up to 180 horsepower. This puts the wagon within the sport compact realm so appealing to the younger set, and dramatically increases the vehicle's performance.
There is a lot to like inside of the 2003 - 2007 Pontiac Vibe as well. While certainly not loaded with standard equipment, the Vibe does provide excellent cargo space - 57 cubic feet with the seats folded down - and reasonable passenger room for a compact vehicle. The interior is replete with tie-downs, some of which are movable in order to offer more versatility to deal with odd-shaped cargo, and a large number of storage containers are sprinkled throughout the cabin to keep the stuff that inevitably accumulates in a family car from sliding around too much.
The 2003 - 2007 Pontiac Vibe is a used wagon with excellent available power and good fuel efficiency that should appeal to both frugal and performance-hungry buyers alike.