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2004 Pontiac Sunfire Review
Sport and sensibility on a budget.
Reviewed by Automotive on
With a gas efficiency of nearly 40 mpg, the 2004 Pontiac Sunfire is one of the more economical vehicles available. Not only does the car boast an impressive fuel economy, it is also has a surprisingly peppy little 4.0-liter engine that provides good pick-up for everyday driving.
The 2004 Pontiac Sunfire has sportier styling and a larger standard wheelbase than its closest competitor, and offers the option to have basic or sport-type suspension.
The Sunfire has a towing capacity of 1000 pounds and can handle a maximum 100 pound tongue weight. At about 2770 pounds, the 2004 Pontiac Sunfire is light enough to zip through the city or fly down the highway without a lot of effort and with minimal gas use.
Engines: 2.2-liter four-cylinder
Transmissions: four-speed automatic with overdrive, five-speed manual with overdrive
Models: Pontiac Sunfire
In keeping with its sportier theme, the Pontiac Sunfire released two funky colors in 2004: Fusion Orange Metallic and Rally Yellow. The same year, Pontiac added a CD/MP3 player and Radio Data System (RDS).
A 2004 seatbelt recall suggested some of the passenger-side rear safety belts were installed with an incorrect nut and bolt, which could potentially cause the upper seatbelt anchor could separate in a severe crash. This recall affects vehicles manufactured between April 1, 2004 and April 30, 2004.
The 2004 Pontiac Sunfire features a streamlined design that includes a standard rear spoiler and more rounded front and rear styling. The Sunfire is compact: it is 182 inches long, stands 53 inches tall, and is mounted on a 104.1-inch wheelbase. Options include a standard or sport-style suspension.
Passenger capacity in the 2004 Pontiac Sunfire is five, although the passengers in the back seat will find themselves with little room. Head room in the back is 36.6 inches, which is approximately one inch less than the head room in the front. Back leg room is 32.6 inches, making for cramped seating for anyone with long legs. Long-legged drivers will be comfortable in the front, with a leg room of 42.1 inches and 54.1 inches of shoulder room. Shoulder room is comparable in the back seat.
The front seats are bucket-style, which allows the driver and front passenger to sit lower to the ground, as if driving in a sports car. The 60/40-split rear seat folds to provide extra storage when there are no back passengers.
The floor-mounted transmission shift lever is within easy reach of the driver, and there’s plenty of front storage for small personal items. The car comes with a standard center console that has two cup holders, a padded armrest, and storage for coins, tapes, CDs, and other personal belongings. Standard options include a rear-window defogger and air conditioning. Options include GM’s OnStar communication system and XM Satellite Radio.
Performance & Handling
The 2004 Pontiac Sunfire has a 2.2-liter, 140-hp, dual overhead cam, four-cylinder Ecotec engine that produces 150 pounds of torque. Shifting is enacted through a standard Getrag five-speed manual transmission. The four-speed automatic transmission is optional.
Acceleration from a standstill is better with the five-speed manual transmission, but the Ecotec engine picks up quickly and smoothly with either transmission. The Pontiac Sunfire’s throttle response improves with speed and is much better at around 45 to 55 mph.
The 2004 Pontiac Sunfire handles well for a compact car. Steering responses are satisfying, even though it requires some effort to move the steering wheel. The suspension system provides smooth riding on the highway but can create a rough ride on off-road surfaces.
Antilock brakes and side impact beams are standard. The Pontiac Sunfire can also come with other passive and active safety options, such as front fog lights and PASSLock Immobilizer.
There aren’t a lot of fancy add-ons and safety features with the Pontiac Sunfire, but it does come with oil pressure, engine temperature, battery, low coolant, lights on, key, and low fuel warnings. The Sunfire is also equipped with daytime running lights, driver and passenger airbags, and a center high-mounted stop light.
EPA Fuel Economy
- Economical price
- Good performance at midrange speed
- Proven powertrain
- Good fuel efficiency
- High roll-over crash-test rating
You Won't Like
- Poor side-impact crash-test rating
- Lower resale value
- Sluggish acceleration with automatic transmission
- Somewhat dated design
Sport and sensibility on a budget.
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