The 1997 Pontiac Sunfire is a compact car that was first introduced by the Pontiac division of General Motors as a replacement for the Sunbird. When it was first launched in 1995, it was a significant departure from the usual styling belonging to the Pontiac Sunbird.
Body Styles: convertible, coupe, sedan
Engines: 2.2-liter I-4, 2.4-liter I-4
Transmissions: five-speed manual, four-speed automatic
Models: Pontiac Sunfire SE, Pontiac Sunfire GT
The 1997 Pontiac Sunfire SE convertible underwent the most changes including a revised list of standard equipment. Standard features in the convertible include automatic transmission, rear window defogger, controlled-cycle wipers, and cruise control. It was also improved to meet the new side-impact standards, and the coupes get a new seatbelt guide loop in front.
The 1997 Pontiac Sunfire carries forward the dramatic styling changes that were introduced two years ago when it debuted. The exterior looks very similar to the redesigned Chevrolet Cavalier, only sportier and comes in sedan, convertible, or coupe body style.
The 1997 Pontiac Sunfire is spacious enough for four occupants, but the seats at the rear are not very comfortable because of the low cushion position. Headroom is strictly average and may prove to be inadequate for some people, but legroom and headroom in the front is much better than that at the back. The dashboard and instrument panel are well designed, while gauges are clear and unobstructed, and the controls work smoothly. The forward visibility is good, but rear visibility is less than stellar because of the height of the rear parcel shelf. The glove box and trunk is quite spacious; however, the coupe does not have a wide enough trunk opening.
Performance & Handling
The 1997 Pontiac Sunfire base models have a 2.2-liter, straight-four engine that was adopted from the previous generation Sunbird. There is an optional twin cam version available as well, which is standard in all GT models. The twin cam engine offers a decent 150 horsepower and works best when mated with the five-speed manual gearbox. However, the traction control only comes with the four-speed automatic transmission. The base engine sound quite unrefined when throttled hard, but it otherwise provides adequate acceleration. The twin cam version is, of course, a better choice; it's more refined, smoother, and more powerful than the regular four-cylinder engines. Moreover, there is a marked difference in the handling and steering characteristics of both models. The GT is better, offering more steering control and the least body lean. On the other hand, the base SE model suffers from a slower steering response, less grip, and more body lean around turns.
The 1997 Pontiac Sunfire comes with anti-lock brakes, dual airbags, and traction control as standard safety features, even for the base models. In tests conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, it received four out of five stars in terms of driver and passenger safety during frontal impact collisions.
EPA Fuel Economy
Pontiac Sunfire: 20/30 mpg city/highway
- Good looks
- Peppy twin cam engines
- Comfortable interiors
- Standard anti-lock brakes and traction control
- Good value for money
You Won't Like
- On the heavier side
- Too many body rolls for comfort
- Loud 2.2-liter engine
Sure to turn heads.
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