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2005 Pontiac Vibe Pros and Cons at TrueDelta: Owner Pros and Cons by nasowas



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Reviewed: 2005 Pontiac Vibe

4dr Hatch 126-horsepower 1.8L I4 4-speed automatic FWD

Why the 2005 Pontiac Vibe?


This car is nimble. I should say I like it's maneuvrability. It is so easy to put this car in tight spaces at parking lots and also in traffic. Cornering is also very good. The car invites to drive in a spirited manner.

Cargo capacity

It sports amazing versatility. This hatchback allows you to load up long items from the lumber store. You can fold down the passenger seat and rear seats to create a large flat surface. If your boards don't fit inside you can open the rear window glass and let it stick out. With the rear seat up I have a compartment for the dog. I added a pet barrier to keep him from climbing over the seat. I think you could go camping and leave the tent at home.

Fuel economy

I am averaging about 28 mpg. The lowest so far was 25 mpg when it was cold and I did only short distances. That is great if you are used to 17 mpg in a minivan.

Safety & braking

The brakes are very easy to modulate and the ABS helps in slippery situations. Caveat: I expect a recall for the Takata airbags that can grenate and kill. I cannot call the car safe until that happens.

Audio & nav systems

This Vibe has the Moon&Tunes option. The radio has an equalizer, single CD and 7 speakers including one subwoofer. First of all: the CD player works! the one in my previous vehicle did not. The sound is very clear. However, I added sound insulation throughout the car and this brought out the inherent qualities of the system. I prefer clarity over volume.

Why Not the 2005 Pontiac Vibe?

Ride smoothness

The ride is harsh and rough. You feel every pebble and crack in the road. This alone could be a reason to look for another car. I found out that the rear struts have a travel of only about 5". Our other car (Ford Contour) has 9" of travel. I could not find any aftermarket struts that could provide more travel or otherwise provide a smoother ride. Everyone claims their struts provide smooth and safe operation. But these claims are unsubstanciated. Owing to the unrefined damping and short wheel base the ride is comparable to a pick up truck at low speeds.

Front seat support & comfort

The driver's seat lacks lumbar support. I made a minor modification to significantly improve the driver seat: I shaped a piece of upholstery foam to create lumbar support. I fit it under the seat cloth so it looks factory. Without it I was slouching and had back aches within 30 minutes of driving. My test drive was 10 minutes. My wife found an inadequate situation on the passenger seat. She needs a very upright seat back. That makes the headrest push her head forward. She uses a 2" thick piece of foam on the upper 2/3rd of the back rest to create a little space between her head and the headrest.

Driving position & visibility

The ergonomics are horrible. I could not find an acceptable postion that puts my feet at the correct distance to the pedals and my hands at the correct distance to the steering wheel. The seat is height adjustable. But the adjustment raises the back of the seat surface and lowers the front edge at the same time. I put shims under the front seat mounts to raise them by about 10 mm. This was a major improvement. It helped with the distance tot eh pedals and now I can rest my arms on the thighs and hold the steering wheel. This makes long distance travel much more comfortable. I want the steering wheel about 2" closer to me. I still pull the shoulders off the seatback when my steering takes the hand over the 12 o'clock position. Of course this is the very moment when you need lateral support. The first generation Vibe has no telescoping steering wheel, it is availabe in the second generation. Forward and side visibilty are excelent, rear visibility is fair.


There is a lot of tire and road noise entering the cabin. I think the noise level is about average for cars of that market segment. I added sound deadener and insulation which helped some. I also put on new tires that run very quiet which helped a lot.


This car's versatility is amazing. The interior space is belying its compact size. If you want an uncomplicated, nimble car to run errands with and do few longer trips this car will be hard to beat.
If you look for a comfortable luxurious ride scratch it from your list.

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