2009 Pontiac Vibe AWD. Click image to enlarge
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Review and photos by Paul Williams
2009 Pontiac Vibe
Ottawa, Ontario – There’s a handy chart on the GM Canada website that compares the Pontiac Vibe with the Toyota Matrix (obviously, Pontiac would like you to buy its Vibe rather than the Matrix). The big difference between the two vehicles at the current time is that Pontiac supplies electronic stability control (ESC) as standard equipment on the Vibe (GM calls it StabiliTrak), and Toyota doesn’t.
Of course, there are styling differences front and rear, and alternative trim levels, but ESC is an excellent safety feature; much more important than the shape of a headlight or bumper. In fact, ESC has activated several times in the past week of mainly city driving in the Vibe.
The reason is that our weather has changed from abundant snow and frigid temperatures, to milder days, rain, freezing rain, and cold nights. What this means for drivers is that the morning roads can be very slippery, so you really benefit from the full arsenal of winter tires, anti-lock brakes, stability control and all-wheel drive on your commute to and from work.
The slippery road surfaces appear to confound many local motorists, especially when braking and cornering. Fortunately, ESC is a big help when cornering, as it can prevent a vehicle from sliding off of an ice-covered road, affording the driver a chance to regain/maintain control, and continue safely along.
Stability control isn’t foolproof, though. Drive recklessly and chances are you’ll crash. But sometimes even the most careful driver is deceived by apparently smooth, dry pavement that’s covered in a thin layer of ice. Those are our local road conditions lately, and that’s why ESC has activated. I’m glad to have it.