Production years: 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999
Pontiac launched the Sunfire in 1995 on the same J-platform as its Cavalier sibling made by Chevrolet, offering it as an alternative to the Escort from Ford and Neon from Chrysler.
When it switched from the Sunbird to the Sunfire, Pontiac made a big step forward on the market. The small-sized sedan could accommodate five people inside and drive them comfortably. Still, since Pontiac was a sports-oriented brand, the automaker tuned the suspension and gave the vehicle a more aggressive look than the Cavalier. While in some areas, the little Sunfire excelled, in others was below average.
With its unusual-looking headlights, the Sunfire's front fascia was inspired by the cars of the '80s with their pop-up headlights but without a lid to cover them. The car's bumper was split in the middle, resembling the Firebird's styling. But despite the front's aggressive look, it was a family sedan. At the back, the automaker dared and stretched the taillights' design onto the trunk's lid.
Inside, Pontiac placed a set of bucket seats at the front and a flat-folding bench seat in the rear. Even though it didn't feature a split system, it was a nice improvement over the previous Sunbird. The materials' quality inside the cabin was good, above average, and the glove compartment was cavernous for its class. On the instrument cluster, Pontiac installed two large dials for the speedometer and tachometer, flanked on their outer sides by the fuel-level and coolant temperature gauges.
Under the hood, the automaker installed a choice of three engines. Unfortunately, the base model was paired with a three-speed auto, which was outdated. For a four-speed version, customers had to go for the higher-powered versions. All cars came fitted with ABS and dual front airbags.