In the cabin
We were lucky to have the 2009 Pontiac Vibe GT as opposed to the lesser trim Vibe 1.8L, Vibe 2.4L, and Vibe AWD. None of the other trims get or have the option for the Monsoon audio system, instead being stuck with a four speaker system. We mentioned a few criticisms of the Monsoon system above, but we're sure it sounds far better than the base system.
The in-dash head unit includes a single CD slot that can read MP3 CDs, and there is an auxiliary input right on the faceplate. The stereo interface is well-designed, with a very usable tab structure that you can manipulate using the preset buttons. Although we don't care for the look of the electrofluorescent display, we like that you can use the tabs to select categories from XM or folders on an MP3 CD.
We mentioned OnStar's poor substitute for navigation above. OnStar also provides a variety of other services, as long as your subscription is up to date. You can get phone service through OnStar, although that means a separate phone number for your car, which isn't useful if everyone is calling you on your cell phone. The only other notable tech feature in the Vibe GT is the AC outlet. We tested that outlet in the Toyota Matrix, and were able to recharge a laptop and a media player in the same amount of time it would take to recharge them from a wall socket.
Under the hood
The 2009 Pontiac Vibe GT, along with the 2.4L and AWD trims, comes with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine producing 158 horsepower and 162 foot-pounds of torque. It's plenty of engine for this size of a car, giving adequate power to get the Vibe moving. The car can also be had with a 1.8-liter four cylinder engine, a power plant we recently tested in the Toyota Corolla. From our experience in the Corolla, the 1.8-liter Vibe probably performs pretty well. As mentioned above, the five-speed manual transmission felt solid, and we enjoyed using the shifter. But you can also get the Vibe GT with a five-speed automatic transmission that has a manual shift option.
As the GT version of the Vibe, Pontiac includes a stabilizer bar mounted at the top of the front shock points. While this bar added some rigidity, the Vibe GT wasn't a car we really wanted to thrash around. The body style gives it a higher center of gravity than a Honda Civic Si or a Mini Cooper, either of which we would prefer over the Vibe GT for sport driving.
For mileage, the EPA rates the 2009 Pontiac Vibe GT at 21 mpg city and 28 mpg highway. Our average, with an emphasis on high-speed freeway driving, came in at 28.18 mpg, and impressive number. As of this review, the emissions rating wasn't available for the Vibe GT.
The 2009 Pontiac Vibe GT has a base price of $19,310. As our only option, we had a $700 sunroof. With the $585 destination charge, the total for our test car came in at $20,595. Included in the price is XM satellite radio with three months of service, and OnStar with one year of the Safe and Sound plan. Stability and traction control, along with a tire pressure monitor, are all standard.
Although OnStar offers some of the services you would get from a navigation system and Bluetooth integration, it falls short of the actual cabin gadgets, hurting the Vibe GT's cabin tech score. The stereo is good, but not great, which helps a little. Overall, it's not much of a tech car in the cabin. For engine performance, we are impressed by its fuel economy. We also like the way the five-speed manual transmission shifts. It is an easy car to drive, but the ride can be harsh and it's not particularly fast.