2006 Pontiac Vibe After One Year

Well, it’s almost been a year since we got the 2006 Pontiac Vibe. We still think it’s a decent car for us around town. This past Christmas we discovered that it’s just barely big enough for us to take the whole family on a road trip. More on that later. :)

After about 32500km, we’re averaging about 8.37L/100km. Since about 80% of that is what we would consider highway driving, we’re not overly thrilled with the real world gas mileage of the Vibe. Now that we have winter tires on and the air is cooler, we’ve been getting just over 9.0L/100km. It hasn’t even gotten really cold here yet as I think the lowest temperature over night was about -15 degrees Celcius.

As for the size of the car. We have a large dog and she basically takes up 3/4 of the trunk area. On top of that, with our munchkin in the infant carrier in the back, the passenger seat is too close to the dash to be comfortable for a long trip. So we had the car well packed for our trip this Christmas. Not too much in the way of weight though, about the same as 3 adults and light luggage. On the way out, we averaged 8.5L/100km. Not too bad. The only comment is that the car is definitely underpowered for passing. With this relatively minor load it had a heck of a time getting up to speed to pass on two-lane roads. It can be done but you had to turn off the overdrive and get a good run (ie get the car into the 4500-5000 rpm range) on the car you wanted to pass.

On the way back we had a rooftop carrier with some extra weight, probably equivalent to 4 adults and light luggage. Holy crap that made a huge difference on the gas mileage though. We averaged about 11.5L/100km! Our worst was a stretch through Quebec where we had a head wind and I was trying to drive too fast (Screaming munchkin, Quebec drivers, middle of nowhere, etc.). That lead to 296km on just over 35L or 12.1L/100km. Yikes! The biggest problem (other than the rooftop carrier) was that the car couldn’t stay in overdrive. It was constantly kicking down into 3rd gear when I had the cruise control on. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t trying to break any land speed records. I was driving at a speed slightly slower than you would normally see on those roads. Heck, the two cops I passed weren’t interested in me at all. ;)

On top of that, I discovered a trait about the car that I don’t especially like. When it does kick down from you pressing harder on the throttle, it takes an exceptionally long time to go back to overdrive when you let off of the throttle. There were times where I had to almost lift my foot completely off of the throttle just to get the car to go back into overdrive. Damn slushboxes. When I used the kick down button, it wasn’t as bad since the car would go back into overdrive almost immediately after you press it again.

Unfortunately it looks like there is a minivan in our future if we have another rug rat. :(

As far as the Pontiac Vibe goes, it’s likely going to become our second car in the future and go into the high mileage club with me taking it back and forth to work (110km/day round trip). 32500km in the first year. Hopefully it will last at least 10 years of driving like that!

7 thoughts on “2006 Pontiac Vibe After One Year

  1. Warren

    Hi, I came across your blog when doing research on Vibe’s. We are going to be buying a new car as the family has grown and the 4 Runner is not too good on gas. We keep hearing good things about the Vibe. Do you still have it? If so, Are you still tracking the mileage? How has the maintenance been?

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  2. Jeff Ivany Post author

    We still have the 2006 Pontiac Vibe and it’s working pretty well for us. We’re around 68000 km now with no major issues. Maintenance is basically just an oil change and tire rotation every 8000km. The only thing we had to take it to the dealer for was a burnt out resistor that controlled the fan speed. I think there’s a semi-major service coming up soon so I’ll have to check the owner’s manual.

    A co-worker was telling me that the Lemon-Aid Guide talks about how the Pontiac Vibe and Toyota Matrix are susceptible to oil sludge collecting in the oil pan. I’m not sure what years that applies to but I think as long as you keep on top of your oil changes, it shouldn’t be a problem.

    I still track the gas mileage but I haven’t updated the spreadsheet in quite a while so I don’t really have any new numbers. I don’t think it’s gotten any better than what I’ve mentioned in this post and a few others.

    As for space, and kids, a rear facing car seat is brutal in the Vibe. You will have to put it on the passenger side and if you’re taller than 5’5″ it’s going to be very uncomfortable to sit in the front passenger seat. On our vacation last year, I would sit in the backseat behind The Boss when she was driving. I’m about 6’1″ and there was no way I could sit in the passenger seat with the rear facing child seat behind it. Forward facing child seats aren’t an issue.

    Hope that helps!

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  3. April

    Hi there – I came across your website trying to look up compatible car top carriers for my Vibe. We have the factory roof rack with cross bars, but it seems small. Do you mind me asking what kind of carrier you used?
    Thanks a lot!

    Reply
    1. Jeff Ivany Post author

      Oh, and we have the honkin’ big cross bars that sit/clamp on top of the side bars. Unfortunately the nice low profile ones that sit between the side rails were apparently discontinued for 2006 and on.

      Reply
    2. Jeff Ivany Post author

      We have an ancient rooftop carrier that we got from my in-laws. It’s just a box with a slightly angled front and fits quite nicely as it is about the same size as the roof of the car.

      The Thule 682 Sidekick looks similar to the one we we have. Anything longer might overhang too much.

      The rooftop carrier we have one that was originally designed to sit on top of the roof directly so it has ridges that run from side-to-side. These ridges just happen to be the same width as the cross bars for the 2006 Vibe so I was able to position the crossbars in such a way so that the rooftop carrier sits on top. Then I used three ratcheting tie down straps (two across and one from front to back) to hold the thing in place. Probably a little overkill but I didn’t want to lose it. We found that putting foam pipe insulation over the straps stopped the wind vibration noise from the straps. Twisting the strap (as suggested by other people at the time) didn’t work as well.

      One big thing to note – the side bars on the Vibe are only rated to hold 75 lbs. That includes the weight of the carrier.

      Don’t forget to unscrew the antenna before putting the box on top or you might bust it. (This of course will mean very poor radio reception on your trip which also includes any portable MP3 players that use a FM transmitter)

      And one last thing – make sure you are able to fully open the rear hatch with whatever rooftop carrier you put on top. The first time I put ours on I was about an inch too far back. While stopped on the side of the road, I opened the rear hatch in a rush and scratched the paint. Doh.

      Reply
  4. Deb Cook

    Why would u drive around with the overdrive on all the time? I have never driven with the overdrive on and I luv my vibe. I have never had any trouble with it. As far a gas mileage i can go have way down the state of Maine and back on a full tank.

    Reply
    1. Jeff Ivany Post author

      Deb, the vibe automatic transmission is a 4-speed with overdrive. Overdrive is the final drive ratio that puts the car engine at the lowest possible RPM when traveling at constant speeds (like highway driving). There’s a little button on the side of the manual transmission shifter that allows you to “kick down” out of overdrive for when you want to pass on the highway. Most people will just push down on the throttle a little harder to achieve the same result.

      Anyways, the car can get 600km (375miles) a tank quite easily if you drive 90km/h (55mph). As you get closer to the 110km/h (70mph) range that is typical highway speeds around here, the range drops off a fair bit.

      Reply

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