The 1996 Pontiac Sunfire is a compact car that replaced the Sunbird and was introduced by General motors in 1995. The change from the Sunbird to Sunfire also denoted a drastic change in exterior and interior styling.
The 1996 Pontiac Sunfire's new styling is shared with the Chevrolet Cavalier as well, which was also redesigned. Just a year into production and the Sunfire has all the signs of a winning model for Pontiac. It takes on its completion by offering sporty styling, reasonable performance, and exceptional value for the money.
Body Styles: coupe, convertible, sedan
Engines: 2.4-liter four-cylinder, 2.2-liter four-cylinder
Transmissions: four-speed automatic, three-speed automatic, five-speed manual
Models: Pontiac Sunfire SE, Pontiac Sunfire GT
The 1996 Pontiac Sunfire comes with some important changes; it's now available with new optional features, including steering wheel radio controls, remote keyless entry, and traction control. The Quad 4 engine that was available last year has been discontinued. In its place, a brand new 2.4-liter, twin-cam engine has been fitted under the hood. Two new interior colors are also available for the 1996 model year.
The 1996 Pontiac Sunfire has a very distinct and good-looking exterior design with a smooth and aerodynamic body and unique front fascia. All models have a wheelbase of 104.1 inches, but all other dimensions differ with the body style. The coupe has a length of 182 inches, a width of 67.4 inches, and height of 53.2 inches. The convertible has a length of 181.9 inches, width of 67.4 inches, and height of 51.9 inches. The sedan has a length of 182 inches, width of 67.3 inches, and height of 54.8 inches.
The 1996 Pontiac Sunfire is spacious enough for four adults. However, comfort is compromised at the rear by the low rear-seat cushion, which forces the passengers to adopt an uncomfortable knees-up position. Moreover, headroom at the rear is marginal at best.
The 1996 Pontiac Sunfire's front seats offer better legroom and headroom. The controls on the dash are also well placed and can be easily accessed by the driver, and the gauges are easily readable. Forward visibility is good, thanks to the low dashboard, but rear visibility is slightly problematic because of the tall rear parcel shelf.
The 1996 Pontiac Sunfire has lots of interior storage areas, and the front glove compartment deserves special mention for being one of the more spacious ones among the competitors. Trunk space is also quite good, but the opening for the two-door models is too small and can cause problems when bulky cargo needs to be loaded.
Performance & Handling
The base engine for the 1996 Pontiac Sunfire is a 2.2-liter, four-cylinder engine that delivers 120 horsepower. An optional 2.4-liter, twin-cam, four-cylinder engine is also available, delivering 150 horsepower and 150 lb-ft of torque.
The original 2.2-liter engine offers adequate acceleration, but it sounds rather rough when it is throttled hard. The engine delivers sufficient performance with both the automatic and manual transmission.
The twin-cam engines are relatively more refined than the base engine. This means that they are smoother, quieter, and more powerful. It's quite agile, but the GT model in particular is a lot more stable and has better road grip, even when it is driven through tight corners and twisting roads. The SE model has comparatively greater body lean and less grip, as well as slower steering.
The 1996 Pontiac Sunfire gets a four-star rating for driver and passenger safety during frontal impact tests conducted by the NHTSA.
EPA Fuel Economy
Pontiac Sunfire: 22/32 mpg city/highway
- Good interior quality
- High fuel economy
- Decent performance
- Stable steering and handling with GT model
You Won't Like
- Poor rear seat comfort
- Noisy base engine
- Poor rear visibility
A solid American compact.
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