As the world's battered automakers gear up for the 2010 model year, we say goodbye to a few outgoing models. Among them are the last Pontiacs, a brand General Motors will dispense with after 2010.
The sole car offered to the public for the new model year will be the 2010 Pontiac Vibe, a five-door hatchback built on the underpinnings of a 2010 Toyota Matrix at the California assembly plant shared by GM and Toyota for 20 years.
The 2010 Vibe is one of the few compelling recent Pontiac products, and the only one we'd consider green that also did well in our full review. Renewed for 2009, it scored 8 out of a possible 10 points.
Only a single body style, a five-door hatchback, is offered. There are three Vibe variants: basic, all-wheel-drive, and GT.
The base car comes with a 1.8-liter four and a 5-speed, with a 2.4-liter four and an automatic optional. The AWD and GT models use the larger engine, with automatic standard on the AWD and the 5-speed for the GT.
Aside from a few detail changes--air conditioning is standard, the luggage rack is offered on the all-wheel-drive model, and Ignition Orange Metallic paint replaces Mystic Blue Metallic, ooooh--the 2010 Vibe is unchanged from the 2009 Pontiac Vibe we reviewed.
Our reviewers liked:
They weren't so keen about:
GM suggests that the Vibe competes with the 2009 Dodge Caliber (score: 7 of 10) and the 2010 Mazda Mazda3 (score: 8.4 of 10).
We'd point out that it competes with the identical-under-the-skin 2009 Toyota Matrix (score: also 8 of 10), which historically has higher resale value. We also named the 2009 Kia Spectra5 (score: 6.4 of 10) and the 2009 Subaru Impreza hatchback (score: 8.2 of 10).
As for other departing Pontiacs, the 2009 Pontiac G3 is slightly greener than the Vibe, achieving EPA ratings of 27 miles per gallon city / 34 mpg highway. But the G3, based on the Chevrolet Aveo, got only 6 points out of 10 in our review.
We recently drove a 2009 Chevrolet Aveo, and found it competent but hardly compelling. Though the EPA rates it at 26 mpg city / 34 mpg highway, we got more than 32 mpg in energetic mixed use. G3 sales have been dismal, so they're likely still available from your local Buick-Pontiac-GMC dealer.
As for the Pontiac G6 midsize sedan, it's available only to fleet buyers for 2010. Go for the prettier and nicer 2010 Chevrolet Malibu instead.
Sic transit gloria mundi. Or, alternatively: Not with a bang, but a whimper ....