2003 Pontiac Sunfire

  • 2003 Pontiac Sunfire Base Coupe

    Base Coupe

    • MAX MPG
    • SEATS
    • ENGINE
      2.2L I4
    • MSRP
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2003 Pontiac Sunfire Review

Seriously out-classed and misguided attempt at an economy sports coupe.

Reviewed by Automotive on


The 2003 Pontiac Sunfire is the smallest and cheapest car from this maker. It offers an outdated design inside and out, a shocking lack of features, an uncomfortable ride, lackluster performance, and doesn’t come even close to being a class leader in any category. It is hard to recommend, and prospective buyers should really check out the superior rivals in this class.

The Range

Body Styles: coupe
Engines: 2.2-liter four-cylinder
Transmissions: five-speed-manual, four-speed automatic
Models: Pontiac Sunfire

What's New

The 2003 Pontiac Sunfire gets a mild redesign that adds new front and rear fascias, a revised sport suspension, and four new wheel styles. The 2.2-liter Ecotec four-cylinder is now the only engine choice now that the GT model has been dropped from the lineup. It no longer comes with standard anti-lock brake system, but it remains an available option. In the cabin, there's an upgraded interior seat fabric, a 60/40-split folding rear seat, and new options like XM Satellite Radio, side-impact airbags, and the OnStar system.


The 2003 Pontiac Sunfire economy coupe comes in a base level trim only. This includes as standard features 15-inch steel wheels and a spoiler along with a basic suspension. Options include 16-inch alloy wheels and a sport suspension package. Its Pontiac’s smallest and most economical car in terms of sticker price, but its design is truly outdated. While the exterior looks to be stylish, a buyer may not be certain from what decade it derived.


The 2003 Pontiac Sunfire has only one trim level that offers things like cloth seats, power steering, four-way front seats, and an AM/FM stereo. There isn’t much in the way of options so it should really be considered an economy car. The five-passenger interior is as outdated design-wise as the exterior. It really lags in features, design, and comfort.

Performance & Handling

The 2003 Pontiac Sunfire's only engine choice is an Ecotec 140 horsepower, 2.2-liter dual overhead cam four-cylinder engine that produces 150 lb-ft of torque. A five-speed manual transmission is standard, while a four-speed automatic is optional. It's comes in a front-wheel drive. While the shift action is reluctant; this power plant is an upgrade over previous edition’s engines and handles most traffic situations albeit without any ease or passion.

The 2003 Pontiac Sunfire's handling is okay with an adequate grip and moderate body roll. Opting for bigger wheels improves both the grip and roll situations. Braking is solid if anti-lock brakes are added, but it is a shame that such a feature isn’t standard. It feels almost agile with the upgraded suspension and tires but won’t ever be mistaken for athletic or being a performer. The ride is above average for this class with the base tires and suspension but turns into an unpleasant affair when the larger tires and sporty suspension were added. Occupants will feel the bumps in the road no matter how it's setup.


The 2003 Pontiac Sunfire comes with anti-lock brakes and an anti-theft system as standard safety equipment, aside from the basics: child seat anchors, electronic brake force distribution, and running lights. There are no airbags available at all, and the only brake system uses rear drum brakes. No control systems are available either; it looks to be generally devoid of safety. While the IIHS has not performed crash safety tests, it's done tests, and the scores were less than stellar. In passenger, driver and rollover safety tests, it did manage to score four out of five stars. In side-impact tests, things did not go so well receiving two stars for rear safety and one star for front safety. Suffice it to say that it is not a paragon of safety or a class leader in this respect.

EPA Fuel Economy

Pontiac Sunfire: 22/30 mpg city/highway

You'll Like

  • Low price
  • Four-cylinder engine torque
  • Options for satellite radio and OnStar

You Won't Like

  • Outdated design all the way around
  • Inferior interior materials
  • Poor build quality
  • Low resale value
  • Poor crash test results

Sum Up

Seriously out-classed and misguided attempt at an economy sports coupe.

If You Like This Vehicle

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