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2002 Pontiac Sunfire Review
The Pontiac Sunfire is showing its age.
Reviewed by Automotive on
The 2002 Pontiac Sunfire is available as either a coupe or a sedan, and is quite a sporty looking little subcompact. Its styling is a little reminiscent of the Chevrolet Cavalier, and in its time it was quite a distinctive and nice looking car. These days, it's not looking so good as it is somewhat dated, and buyers would be advised to look at some of the competition that has survived the passage of time a lot better. It has too many things wrong with it to truly recommend it.
This car is fine if you're looking for a daily run around and don't really expect too much from it. However if you're looking for something with a bit more under the hood then you'll be disappointed, and there are a lot better cars around for the same price. It lacks refinement, and a lot of people think the styling is somewhat overdone. The cabin isn't as comfortable as other cars in this class, and it suffers from low tech engineering. This car was clearly aimed at younger drivers, but it's easy to see why it was phased out.
Engines: 2.2-liter four-cylinder, 2.4-liter twin-cam four-cylinder
Transmissions: five-speed manual, four-speed automatic
Models: Pontiac Sunfire SE, Pontiac Sunfire GT
Minor changes for this year included a tilt-steering wheel, an electric trunk release included standard, and the addition of three new exterior colors. There were very few major changes to the Pontiac Sunfire in 2002 since the model received a facelift the following year.
The exterior of the Sunfire is sporty looking, and includes a rear spoiler standard. Some people may think this spoiler looks rather silly. The SE edition has rocker-panel moldings and side ribs, while the GT has fog lamps fitted as standard. The sedan is seated on a 104.1-inch wheelbase, is 181.8 inches long, and is 54.7 inches high. The coupe is just a fraction longer than this. The SE comes with 14-inch steel wheels and all-season tires. The GT coupe comes with 16-inch alloy wheels and performance tires. Both models have intermittent wipers.
The interior can seat up to five passengers, but some people might struggle to get into the backseat. It has bucket seats in the front, and a rear seat capable of holding three people. On the plus side the seats are quite firm and supportive, but the interior is a little strange and poorly designed. For example, the side-door pockets are tricky to access from either the backseat or the front seat, rendering them virtually useless.
The SE comes with air conditioning and a stereo cassette player. The GT model has a steering wheel wrapped in leather, a leather trimmed shift knob, a six-speaker CD stereo, and a better quality leather and cloth interior. The dash is surprisingly well-designed and easy to navigate and uses quite good quality controls. There are front cup holders and door pockets, front seat back storage, and a front console with storage. The steering wheel can be adjusted and tilted.
Performance & Handling
The SE model is fitted with a 2.2-liter, four-cylinder engine producing 115 horsepower. The GT model is fitted with a more powerful version of this engine, giving it 140 hp. Both models had the option of a 2.4-liter, twin-cam, four-cylinder engine, capable of producing 150 hp. A five-speed manual transmission was fitted as standard, and an option of a four-speed automatic transmission is also available.
The driving experience really isn't anything to write home about, and lacks refinement. Above all this car isn't a lot of fun to drive in spite of its sporty looking appearance. If you dare to take it on a twisty road, then you'll find the body roll is quite scary. The steering isn't particularly responsive, and it has drum brakes rather than discs on the rear. The only thing to really recommend this model of Pontiac is the fact that the engine is one of the lightest and most compact in its class and has quite good acceleration.
Safety features include child seat anchors, an anti-theft system, front headrests that are fully adjustable, an emergency interior trunk release, four-wheel assisted braking system, and daytime running lights. Unfortunately, this car performed very poorly during government collision tests.
EPA Fuel Economy
Pontiac Sunfire GT: 21/30 mpg city/highway
- Engine size
You Won't Like
- Poor handling
- Uncomfortable interior
- Dated engineering
The Pontiac Sunfire is showing its age.
If You Like This Vehicle
- Ford Focus
- Ford Mustang
- Chevrolet Cavalier