1995 Pontiac Sunfire
The Pontiac Sunfire was introduced in 1995 model year as the compact car to replace the already well-known Sunbird model, which lasted for eighteen years. De facto not only the name was changed. Styling changes were included as well. The new styling was shared with the Chevrolet Cavalier. Also during this time, the platform was updated structurally to meet more safety standards. The Sunfire could be purchased as a coupe or a convertible. However, the convertible models were not sold after the year 2000, when Pontiac introduced a refreshed Sunfire. The Sunfire name was recycled from the Canada-only Asüna Sunfire sold only in 1993, and the Asuna version would also be considered as the predecessor to the Pontiac version.
When the Pontiac Sunfire was introduced there were two engines available. Base models were powered by a 2.2-liter four-cylinder capable of 120 horsepower and 130 pound-feet of torque. GT models got a more muscular 2.3-liter inline-4 good for 145 hp and 150 lb-ft of torque. The following year, the 2.3-liter was replaced with a more powerful 2.4-liter that promised 150 hp and 155 lb-ft of torque. In 2003, both engines were dropped from the lineup and a more fuel-efficient 2.4-liter "Ecotec" four-cylinder good for 140 hp and 150 lb-ft of torque became the sole available engine. Buyers had three transmissions to choose from: a three-speed automatic, a four-speed automatic and a five-speed manual.
The Sunfire had a few upgrades over the years. Options included air-conditioning and a power moonroof. In 1996, traction control, remote keyless entry and auxiliary steering-wheel-mounted audio controls were added to the options list. The following year, convertible Sunfires had upgrades in standard equipment, with an automatic transmission being added to that roster. In 1998, safety got a boost, thanks to the addition of second-generation airbags to the standard features list; a new sound system was also added to the options list.
In 2000, there was a new front and rear fascias and a new five-speed manual transmission added; a premium Monsoon audio system was also added to the options list. In 2003, the Sunfire got another refresh, with an upgraded sport suspension and new front and rear fascias. ABS was no longer standard on base models, though it was available. Satellite radio, side airbags and OnStar became available.
The Sunfire didn't win any awards for cabin design. Materials quality is subpar, build quality is lacking and the overall style falls short. Its seats don't offer much comfort. Still, later models do offer impressive options like OnStar and satellite radio.