The current generation of the Pontiac Vibe is winding down, and to that end, the major changes for 2007 are deletions: the GT and all-wheel drive models have been discontinued. There’s an optional rear cargo cover, and a new Wave blue exterior colour.

Also appearing at Toyota as the Matrix, the Vibe uses a 1.8-litre inline four-cylinder with variable valve timing, mated to a five-speed manual transmission or optional four-speed automatic. Suspension is front MacPherson struts with twist-beam rear suspension, and disc/drum brakes. A tire pressure monitoring system and StabiliTrak stability control are available.

Standard features include air conditioning, power mirrors, power locks with keyless entry, roof rack, 16-inch wheels, variable intermittent wipers, rear washer/wiper, floor mats, tilt wheel, cloth seats, rear 60/40 folding seat and CD player.

Optional items include curtain airbags, Sun and Sound Package including seven-speaker Monsoon sound system, XM Satellite Radio, CD/MP3 player, and OnStar.

The Vibe is an excellent alternative to a compact SUV, with a smaller footprint, better economy and lower centre of gravity, but it will hold an impressive amount of cargo, especially with the rear seat folded. Its “tall wagon” configuration creates impressive headroom and excellent visibility. Compare it to other hatchbacks including the Chrysler PT Cruiser, Chevrolet HHR, Suzuki SX4 and its sister Toyota Matrix.

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