I absolutely love my Vibe! When I went to buy my Vibe, it was difficult to find reviews from actual owners of Vibes, so I decided I would write a review after a few months to help others when trying to decide on a new car. Ive owned my Vibe since August 2002, and it has exceeded every expectation I ever had. To me the three most important factors in my new car were, 1) lots of cargo room, 2) all-wheel drive, and 3) good gas-mileage. Unfortunately the first two usually arent compatible with the third. I had narrowed down my selection to the Honda CRV, Subaru Forrester, and the Vibe. In the end the low price, very roomy interior, and the SIGNIFIANTLY better gas mileage steered me to the vibe. I bought a white AWD Vibe with the power package, the Moons & Tunes package, side-impact air bags, and the rear cargo mat & nets. I now have 8000 miles on the car and havent had a single problem. Toyota & Pontiac designed a great car.
Dont let the somewhat small appearance fool you; this is a big car in many ways. I was worried about not having enough cargo room if there were 4 adults in the car. Well, I recently drove 4 adults home from the airport after a week long trip. There was room to spare in the cargo area. When it is just my girlfriend, the dog and I we can fold down the large half of the back seat and there is tons of space for gear on weekend trips.
The all wheel drive on the vibe is absolutely incredible. I never knew a car could handle so well in the snow. We spent New Years weekend at a cabin near Lake Tahoe, one evening we had to leave 4 cars (my Vibe, an Audi A4 quatro, a Ford Escape, and a Jeep Liberty) in an overflow parking area that didnt get plowed by the time we went to move the cars in the morning. It had snowed about 12 inched during the night. The Audi and the Vibe pulled out of the snow without problem, but both the Escape and the Liberty had to be dug out and pushed onto the plowed road. Also, the high seating position is great! I love being able to feel like Im in a car, and still see over all the other sedans on the road.
I dont have to drive to work so I drive mostly on the Highway on weekend trips. Over the first 8000 miles Ive put on my vibe Ive averaged 28 miles to the gallon. The 1.8L 130 HP engine has a lot of pep when you need it in the city. It took some time learning that the vibe is geared for more horsepower at higher RPM and the engine runs a little fast at 85, but I can still set the cruise-control at 95 MPH. My last car had a 3.8 L V6, and I miss the extra power if Im going up hill with a full carload of people trying to pass someone. But to be realistic, that has only happened once, so 99.9% of the time Im driving the engine has plenty of pick up when I need it. Although the AWD has a slightly less horsepower, it is still just as peppy in the city as its front wheel drive twin.
There isnt anything that I dont like about my Vibe, but there are a couple things that I wish I could change, or at least I hope GM & Toyota change in the future. I have a long narrow driveway (about 300 feet) that I back out of in reverse. The reverse gear has a fairly small speed range. I wish I could go faster in reverse. Also, the front brakes are a little on the loud side, Ive heard Grand Am owners making the same complaint. It isnt bad, just a noticeable friction sound (nothing squeaky). Fortunately with the radio on, I almost never hear the sound. Also, I think the rear cargo mat it a must! Without it, the hard plastic in back has almost no friction and you can hear things sliding around.
Here is some random bonus advice from a vibe owner. The backseat head rests cut down slightly on the field of view. They can easily be taken off and placed in the center cut out of the lower cargo area. They fit great in there and are easy to access if someone in the back seat is nodding off and needs to rest their head. One of the reasons I bought the Vibe instead of the Matrix (besides looking cooler) is the factory installed roof rack. I carry a lot of gear on the weekends. I love the extra cargo space the factory rack provides. The best after market rack for the Matrix is rated at a maximum carrying capacity of around 75 lbs. The factory rack on the Vibe is rated somewhere around 225 lbs (a huge increase). Currently on my Vibe I have Thule crossbars, the Thule Excursion cargo Box, 2 individual ski carriers, and a double snowboard carrier. That is a lot of extra space. I originally bought a long ski cargo box, but I couldnt open the rear gate all the way. So I switched to the shorter Excursion Cargo box for any extra gear and the separate ski & snowboard carriers. It works great! One other piece of advice, I love to work on my laptop while my girlfriend drives but the dashboard plug is only two pronged, so I always keep a 3 prong to 2 prong adaptor in my glove box, just in case I need it. Another thing I love about the vibe is the center cup holder. It is so great! There are two different sized holders so I can have a can of coke or a HUGE 48 oz drink and both fit snugly into the cup holder. It is a great design! The car is full of those fantastic little design surprises.
I dont have any children yet, but my best friend with a 1 year old son and a 2001 CRV, has commented a couple of times when we have driven in the Vibe together, that the back seat of the Vibe is roomier that the CRV. He says it is easier to get his son in and out of the child seat in the Vibe than the CRV. I dont know if it is true, but I thought I would pass the comment on.
Well, in summary, I love my Vibe! It has been the perfect car for me. I would highly recommend it. Absolutely! No reservations! This is the first car I have owned that I LOVE!
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