Compact car; Built in USA
  • 2-door convertible
  • 2-door coupe
  • 4-door sedan
  • transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $1,000 – $2,000*


1994 Pontiac Sunbird GT 2-door coupe


1994 Pontiac Sunbird 2-door coupe


1994 Pontiac Sunbird 2-door convertible


1990 Pontiac Sunbird interior


1990 Pontiac Sunbird 2.0-liter engine

Pros:
  • Acceleration (V6)
  • Fuel economy (4-cylinder)
  • Handling/roadholding (SE, GT)
Cons:
  • Acceleration (4-cylinder)
  • Engine noise
  • Rear-seat room

While the Sunbird isn’t as refined as the Japanese competition, you can find a V6 in both 4-door and convertible models, which you can’t find anywhere else.

Overview

GM’s smallest American-built car, the Sunbird, shared chassis and powertrains with the Chevrolet Cavalier. Sunbirds were available as a 2-door coupe in LE, SE, and GT trim. Both the 4-door sedan and 2-door convertible models came only in an LE trim level. Nearly all Sunbirds came with a 96-horsepower, 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine as standard equipment. The lone exception was the GT model, which featured a 165-horsepower turbocharged version of the same engine. The turbo was also optional for the convertible.

Yearly Updates

1991 Sunbird
The Pontiac Sunbird gains a new entry-level model and shelves the 4-cylinder turbocharged engine used in GT and convertible models for its first V6. The new base Sunbird is available in both coupe and sedan body styles, and joins the LE, SE, and GT coupes and the LE sedan models. Sunbird’s first V6 is a 3.1-liter unit that provides 140 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque. A 5-speed manual transmission is standard on both the 2.0-liter 4-cylinder and optional 3.1-liter V6, with a 3-speed automatic being the optional gearbox.
1992 Sunbird
Antilock brakes become standard on all 1992 Sunbirds and a new fuel-injection system adds more power to the base engine. Last year’s new base model carries the LE designation for ’92 in both the coupe and sedan versions of the Sunbird. The standard 2.0-liter 4-cylinder now delivers 110 horsepower–14 more than last year. Finally, the convertible top gains a new glass rear window and an optional defroster midway through the model year.
1993 Sunbird
Base models are now available with a V6, and there’s a new sport-appearance option package for the midline coupe versions of the Sunbird.
1994 Sunbird
The GT coupe is retired for ’94 as Pontiac moves to consolidate the Sunbird lineup in anticipation of the arrival of all-new models in 1995.

Engines

transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive

Base engine for nearly all Sunbirds is a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder. It provides 96 horsepower at 4800 rpm and 118 pound-feet of torque at 3600 rpm in 1990. The addition of fuel injection in 1992 results in a boost to 110 horsepower at 5200 rpm and 124 pound-feet at 3600 rpm. The Sunbird GT features a turbocharged version of the same engine in 1990 (optional as well for the convertible), but switches to a 3.1-liter V6 the following year. The turbocharged version delivers 165 horsepower at 5500 rpm and 175 pound-feet of torque at 4000 rpm. The Sunbird’s first V6, later optional on models by ’93, provides 140 horsepower at 4200 rpm and 185 pound-feet of torque at 3600 rpm.

ohv V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.1/191
Engine HP 140
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 180-185
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
3-speed automatic
19/28
20/28
21.9
Turbocharged ohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.0/121
Engine HP 165
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 175
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
3-speed automatic
21/30
21/28
ohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.0/121
Engine HP 96-110
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 118-124
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
3-speed automatic
26/36
23/32
25.7
22.4

Road Test

While the 4-cylinder provides adequate acceleration with the 5-speed, the optional 3-speed automatic saps much of its strength. With either transmission the 4-cylinder has a loud, coarse growl–but also good fuel economy. Expect over 30 mpg on the highway with the manual and close to 30 with the automatic. The V6 is a better choice with automatic and gives Sunbird impressive acceleration.

Where other subcompacts absorb bumps, these cars just bang over them. You’ll not only feel bumps, you’ll also hear them as well. Also, you are assaulted by road and engine noise at highway speeds. The GT’s Level II suspension sharpens handling without sacrificing much ride comfort.

Sunbird’s dash puts climate controls within easy reach. The seats, however, are too soft and shapeless to provide much support. They’re also mounted so low that shorter drivers may have a difficult time seeing over the tall cowl. The interior has adequate space for four adults, though leg room is at a premium in back unless the front seats are moved forward. Trunk space also is adequate and all but the convertible are available with a folding rear seatback. The convertible, with its power top, is pleasant on a sunny day, and the addition of a real glass window and defogger beginning in ’92 is a real plus.

Ratings

Model Tested: 1991 Pontiac Sunbird GT

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.

Performance

Acceleration - 4
40%
Fuel Economy - 6
60%
Ride Quality - 5
50%
Steering/Handling - 4
40%
Quietness - 4
40%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 4
40%
Room/Comfort Front - 4
40%
Room/Comfort Rear - 3
30%
Cargo Room - 3
30%

Other

Value - 5
50%

Total: 42

Specifications

2-door convertible
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
101.3 180.7 66.2 52.4
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
10.4 13.6-15.2 4
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
38.2 36.5 42.1 32.0
2-door coupe
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
101.3 180.7 66.2 52.2
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
12.6 13.6-15.2 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
37.8 36.1 42.1 32.0
4-door sedan
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
101.3 180.7 66.2 53.9
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
15.2 13.6-15.2 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
38.8 37.4 42.1 33.7
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 1993 Sunbird 4-door sedan

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 4
80%
Front Passenger Injury - 5
100%

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
N/A0%
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A
N/A0%

HLDI

(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision 93
Injury 131
Theft 28

Trouble Spots

Automatic transmission
Description: TH-125 automatic transmissions may shift late or not upshift at all. The problem is a stuck throttle valve inside the transmission. (1990-94)
Transaxle leak
Description: The right front-axle seal at the automatic transaxle is prone to leak and GM issued a revised seal to correct the problem. (1992-94)

Recall History

1991
Description: Front-door shoulder-belt guide loops may be cracked.
1991
Description: Front-door interlock striker may fail.
1992
Description: Accelerator cable may have been kinked during assembly; can cause high-effort operation, or sticking or broken cable.
1992
Description: Secondary hood-latch spring in some cars is improperly installed or missing.
1992-93
Description: During cold weather, water entering throttle cable may freeze and cause cable to bind.
1993
Description: Flawed rear brake hoses can cause reduced brake effectiveness.
1994
Description: Drive-axle spindle nuts on a few cars may be overtorqued.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.

Pricing

Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.