By on September 17, 2007

pontiacgp-2b.JPGI sometimes get sentimental for the Good Old Days, a bygone era when gas was cheap (and the good stuff was called Ethyl), back seats were the ticket to romance, and tailfins were a mark of distinction, rather than bad taste. Back in the day, the coolest metal was Detroit born-and-bred, bearing real nameplates that paid homage to fast animals and faraway places and auto races, not to alphanumeric jumbles inspired by IRS tax forms. It was during one of these recent waves of nostalgia that I found myself looking forward to spending some quality time flogging one of America’s last remaining full-size touring sedans, the Grand Prix. That is, until I drove one.

True to its legacy as a highway cruiser, the Grand Prix is, well, big. At 198 inches, the grand dame consumes as much curb space as a 7-series BMW. Unlike its original 1962 namesake, the current Pontiac looks uninteresting and ill-proportioned. The blandly inoffensive profile is disrupted by a garish boy-racer front air dam and a bulbous, excessively ridged tail that has all the charm of a plumber’s hindquarters. It’s quite sporty looking– assuming you limit your choices of sport to roller derby and championship wrestling. 

x07pn_gp005.jpgEnter this lame-duck’s cabin and welcome to another GM-sponsored edition of "Bad Designers Gone Wild." The Grand Prix' dashboard is an unfortunate mishmash of odd angles and mismatched plastics, paired with conspicuously cheap aluminum trim that missed the turn for the soda can factory. The buttons are lower rent than an apartment overlooking Chicago's L and as awkward to manipulate on the fly as a Psion organizer (from the same era).

The large-print gauges are intrusive pie plates more suited to geriatric reading rooms than an inspired driver’s car. The steering wheel continues the size trumps all theme. The mass transit-sized interface obviates the possibility of serious switchbacks shenanigans– if only because the metal cladding is ideally located to cut into any sporting driver trained to place his or her hands at the 9 and 3 o’clock positions.  

The Grand Prix’s cloth buckets are adequate for extended cruising. However, they lack lumbar and side support; I never managed to maneuver the six-way power adjustments to a position that was anything better than rental car compliant. But interior space is abundant, and the spacious trunk will please even the most ambitious of Costco shoppers.

pontiacgp-15c.jpgAlthough most reviewers test the livelier 5.3-liter V8 or supercharged 3.8-liter editions of this car, “my” Grand Prix lumbered along with Ye Olde “3800” V6. It’s the naturally-aspirated, transverse-mounted 200hp pushrod found in most Grand Prix that trudge along US highways. It’s a powerplant in name only: mechanical motivation perfectly designed to discourage any accelerative aspirations.  

Fire it up, and the 3800’s familiar whirr settles into an engine note that oozes all the sonic sensuality (and none of the precision) of a Cuisinart. Mated to a drive-by-wire throttle and four-speed automatic, the not-so-mighty mill pushes the Pontiac to 60mph in a bit over eight seconds. For those aspiring to gaze deeply into the taillights of Toyota Avalons, it’s the stuff of which dreams are made.

pontiacgp-2c-newplate.jpgThe Grand Prix' anemic engine renders it as far from autobahn material as a dirt bike. But at a more languid pace, the Grand Prix proceeds without trial or tribulation. The Pontiac stalwarts’ 110” wheelbase and independent suspension deliver a gentle ride without the excessive floaty boatiness typical of most old-school GM automobiles. Toss some good old fashioned American expansion joints and potholes its way, and neither driver nor passengers will be any worse for wear. 

In keeping with tradition, the Grand Prix’ over-boosted steering is as vague and disconnected as a stoned surfer, offering that Novocain numbness that makes Detroit front-drivers the last choice for anyone who enjoys driving. Just as long as you don’t harbor any pistonhead passion whatsoever, you and Grand Prix may get along just fine.

pontiacgp-6b-newplate.jpgThe Grand Prix may share the name and most of the length of its throaty four-barreled ancestor, but it fails miserably to deliver on its promise of sports sedanitude.  This Pontiac is ultimately a charm-free appliance– one that inspires little confidence. With barely 500 miles on the clock, my tester was already beginning to creak and groan. Owners should not be surprised if their enjoyment of the Lunesta-like driving dynamics is interrupted by an untimely visit or two with Mr. Goodwrench.

This party will be ending soon. Next year, Pontiac will put the Grand Prix out to the pasture that’s been waiting for it for a very long time. All hail “world cars” and automotive alphanumerics! Pontiac dealers will soon begin peddling the G8, a rear-driver based upon the world-famous-in-Australia Holden Commodore that will sport (one hopes) a 3.6-liter 261hp DOHC V6 and a five-speed autobox.

Meanwhile, on the cusp of this glorious transition, you can pick up a brand new, fully-loaded Pontiac Grand Prix for a song.  Don’t.

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113 Comments on “Pontiac Grand Prix Review...”


  • avatar
    jthorner

    How did 8 second 0-60 times become seen as painfully slow? What reasonable legal driving scenarios call for faster acceleration than that?

    • 0 avatar
      rhuddles1

      While this article is pretty down on the 2004 Grand Prix we have found it to be a good car. We bought the 2004 Grand Prix GT2 brand new and it now has 175k miles. The standard maintenance items have had to be done but that is it. It is just now starting to get leaks but not enough where any fluids are hitting the ground. We replaced the struts at 150k (which was way to long.)The car would be in perfect shape if those cheap wood fences they build with new homes hadn’t blown over onto the car. So it has a couple of small dents in the fender. Everything still runs like it’s supposed to. It’s plenty fast for us to get around and get the jump on someone at the light if it is needed.

  • avatar
    shaker

    I find that the 3800 Series III V6 in my vehicle is actually the pinnacle of pushrod engine design — It has 30 more HP (200) than the previous version, and meets the 50-state emmisions standards. Oh, my vehicle is a 1997 Camaro, BTW.

  • avatar
    NoneMoreBlack

    This is a good demonstration of the seductive danger of the 5-star rating system; even after that Rock-em Sock-em review, it earns 3 stars? 3 stars is in fact the lowest score any vehicle on the first page of your auto reviews has received. Cognitive dissonance?

  • avatar
    carlisimo

    Yeah, that’s a recurring theme on this site.

    But hey, it got three stars, it must be good at something. I’m sure there’s someone out there who thinks the Camry is too sporty and full of feedback for them.

  • avatar
    shaker

    17 stars, 7 categories= 2.43 stars.

  • avatar
    26theone

    Really this car is a waste of both energy and time for those that built this car. There ought to be a penalty for putting these types of cars on the road.

  • avatar
    TexasAg03

    How did 8 second 0-60 times become seen as painfully slow? What reasonable legal driving scenarios call for faster acceleration than that?

    When Accords, Camrys, Tundras, and Titans do it in 6.5-7 seconds, 8 seconds in a Grand Pricks Prix is painfully slow.

  • avatar
    socsndaisy

    If the malibu is still the auto equivalent of sweatpants, this gran prix is certainly automotive Zubaz!

  • avatar
    Matthew Danda

    There was a time, when many of us were learning to drive, when a typical “sporty car” ran 0-60 in 8 seconds. Even though it may be slow by today’s standards, it is perfectly acceptable for comfortable driving.

    I am not convinced that the base Grand Prix is an unreliable car. But the supercharged version, I hear, is notoriously unreliable (keep $1500 handy for a supercharger rebuild every few years).

    GM builds this car because it is CHEAP TO MANUFACTURE!!! The designs and factory tooling were paid for years ago, so they can churn them out cheap.

  • avatar
    rprellwitz

    jthorner :
    September 17th, 2007 at 10:58 am

    How did 8 second 0-60 times become seen as painfully slow? What reasonable legal driving scenarios call for faster acceleration than that?

    The scenario I face everyday at the “metered onramps” during the daily commute. And what TexasAG03 said!

    Were the pictures included in the review done by TTAC? Its always interesting to see local landmarks (Milwaukee’s Hoan bridge and 3rd ward) in the background, its really unfortunate that white bulbous thing had to take such prominence…

    Anyway I look forward to seeing the G8 – hopefully Pontiac will figure out how to fit the G8, V8 with a 6SP Manual! That just might entice some german sport sedan buyers…..

  • avatar
    rprellwitz

    Evidenlty when you click on the first picture it indicates that the photos are courtesy of the reviewer. Didn’t catch that on my first read through!

  • avatar
    hltguy

    I had a 2007 Grand Prix as a rental in Memphis for a few days in mid August. I agree with the review and will add a few items: The metal type material on the steering wheel is vey hot to the touch. Unfortunately it was 105 degrees in Memphis when I was there and the metal could toast a bagel. The a/c, thank God, worked well. Acceleration was acceptable and it cruised fine, the sound system was good. Someone at GM must have gotten a great deal at Button R Us, because there is no lack for such in the car. My impression of the car is that it makes for a good rental car, roomy, okay performace, fairly comfortable, good a/c. But the thought of paying in the 20K’s to buy one? No way.

  • avatar
    Bunter1

    Most buyers already take this reviews advise and avoide the Bland Prix (french for “consolation prize”). Fleet-Centrals stats for the first half of the year showed something like 77% going to fleet.
    Apparently the public is not completely clueless.

    Stay groovy.

    Bunter

  • avatar
    Johnson Schwanz

    I cannot believe that this car stayed on the market so long.

    At least the G8 should be a better product.

  • avatar
    prndlol

    Eight seconds to reach 60mph used to be just fine, commendable in fact. Then every brand had to squander any fuel savings gained by advancing technology by getting into another horsepower war over the last decade. 180HP, 210HP, 230HP. And now even bread and butter Camrys are rolling around with 270 horses under the hood? It’s stupid, and we’re all paying for it at the pump.

  • avatar
    Alex Dykes

    I drove the Grand Prix for a week earlier this year and personally, I would have found it hard to have given it 2 stars.

  • avatar

    I can’t help but wonder what will happen to Pontiac’s already-abysmal sales numbers when they kill the Grand Prix in favor of the G8. The number of G8s they import won’t be anywhere near the number of Grand Prix’ they churn out so overall sales are going to drop drastically.

    Whether a car goes to fleets or to the guy down the street, a sale is a sale when a company is holding on by its fingertips like Pontiac is. I predict you’ll see a strong upturn in G6 sales as the beancounters try to make up for lost Grand Prix sales by dumping even more G6s into fleets.

  • avatar
    86er

    I would disagree on the author’s comments re: interior space. The backseat is exceptionally small even by W-Body standards, and the sloping roofline intrudes into rear headroom. When I worked at a PBG store they kept saying the GP was “driver-centric”. I guess that’s what they meant.

    The taut suspension lends pretensions to sporting driving, but is only adequate to the task for the Impala/Camry set.

    The author is right to cite the original 1962 GP in his review, because the current model is an insult to the proud heritage of the 60′s era.

    The G8 will indeed be a revelation, in that it will reveal the car that GM should have continued building instead of going on its 20-year magic carpet ride chasing the FWD Japanese competition.

  • avatar
    86er

    I can’t help but wonder what will happen to Pontiac’s already-abysmal sales numbers when they kill the Grand Prix in favor of the G8. The number of G8s they import won’t be anywhere near the number of Grand Prix’ they churn out so overall sales are going to drop drastically.

    Whether a car goes to fleets or to the guy down the street, a sale is a sale when a company is holding on by its fingertips like Pontiac is. I predict you’ll see a strong upturn in G6 sales as the beancounters try to make up for lost Grand Prix sales by dumping even more G6s into fleets.

    I predict you’ll be correct, Frank.

    The 30,000 or so imported G8′s will be to test the waters for a year or two, until Oshawa can be retooled to Zeta in 2010-11 (or so they hope).

  • avatar
    TaxedAndConfused

    Now thats a car thats been beaten with the ugly stick long and hard. The only reason to sit inside would be so that you can’t see the outside. Ever.

    A friend of ours had the old one a few years ago and was dead keen on the V6 being “shhhporty”. All it seemed to do was weeze and whine without much progress when called upon to gain momentum with 3 adults and one 3 year old on board.

    The 3 year old (now 6) does a good impression of Raf Valone in the original “Italian Job”, when he says “pretty car” just before trashing an Aston DB5. Needless to say he didn’t say that just now when I showed him these pictures.

  • avatar

    @86er:

    “When I worked at a PBG store they kept saying the GP was “driver-centric”.

    That’s funny, I can think of a lot of things to describe this rental poster boy of a car, but that’s certainly not one of them!

  • avatar
    BEAT

    I never like this car. It so heavy.
    And it looks the same for the past 7 years.
    I prefer buying the new Magnum it looks tough and it drives tough.

  • avatar
    Redbarchetta

    I thought this was a joke when I saw the picture. I had no idea that was still the current body style. I thought all the Grand Prix I saw around that looked like that were 2003-2004 models. Talk about letting a model rot on the vine for ages. The interior is only a slight improvement over my wifes old ’92, and man that was a horrible running and driving car.

    Such a shame I used to really like Pontiac as a kid.

  • avatar
    AKM

    Agreed with most reviewers regarding stars. Reminds me: even when I was a kid, when my favorite videogame magazine had a 70% score on a game review, I knew it was a stinker. Anything below 85% was barely worth considering.
    The problem now is that, apart from Chinese cars that are not even on the market, no car is really worth less than 3 stars. They can be mediocre, dull, uninspired, but not bad. Compared to better cars, yes, they’re bad, but objectively, they’re not. 8s to 60 is faster than 911 and corvettes from the 70s.
    The real question is: do we rate subjectively (i.e., comparatively to other vehicles), or based on the vehicle’s merits alone?

    A friend of mine has one, he’s 35, and he described it as:”I’m doing pretty good, got a really nice car”. I did not feel like telling him that I would not change my 2002 VW Golf for his GP, despite all the shortcomings of my own ride.

  • avatar
    beken

    The Gran Prix probably deserves 3 or 4 stars 10 years ago. But by today’s standards, I would be afraid to drive one. Time has passed but Pontiac didn’t move with it.

    Enjoyed the review.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    “There ought to be a penalty for putting these types of cars on the road.”

    There is. It is called bankruptcy.

  • avatar
    Jordan Tenenbaum

    8 seconds 0-60? I’m in no way defending the GP, but Jesus you guys, that’s not that slow. Perhaps it is in such a big car, but I can think of many cars that are slower than that but are a hoot to drive. You guys are spoiled.

  • avatar
    Tiger Commanche

    I can’t believe I just read “pushrod” and “four speed automatic” in a new car review in 2007. It’s like we went back in time to the early ’90s. What’s next? Will I turn on the TV and see that O.J. Simpson has been arrested?

  • avatar
    BobJava

    At the risk of serious redundancy, I want to echo the concerns over the three-star rating.

    How can something that “fails miserably to deliver on its promise of sports sedanitude” (among numerous other transgressions) achieve such a rating? This review reads like a one- or two-star rating.

    I could dream up reasons its a three star (cheap, cheap, cheap?), but it’s certainly not reflected. Even the lovely (read: floaty) ride is incongruous with the what Pontiac is supposed to be.

    I think TTAC needs a recalibration in this area.

  • avatar
    Steve_K

    Apparently it is Tiger! http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/law/09/17/oj.simpson/index.html

    Anyway, a friend of mine had a 1998 Grand Prix and it was fine. Sort of a no-brainer family car. Want a big GM car that isn’t a Lesabre and gets 29 MPG for cheap? Buy a used GP.

  • avatar
    ThresherK

    Has the Grand Prix bloated a bit more since the Bonneville was axed? Can someone quote me some pounds and inches?

    Any “sportiness” afforded by the low-cut back window is wasted on what looks like too long a nose + excess front overhang.

    Plus, the white brings out the panel gaps like no other paint job. Looks like a strip of electrical tape from headlamp to headlamp above the grill.

  • avatar
    Mud

    Get rid of the GP and keep the (now discontinued) Holden Monaro, er I mean GTO.

    Lots of experience with GP’s as rentals, sort of sneered at the GTO til my son got a 2006. 400hp, 6 spd, rear drive. Cripes, I really like that car now.

  • avatar
    William C Montgomery

    NoneMoreBlack: This is a good demonstration of the seductive danger of the 5-star rating system; even after that Rock-em Sock-em review, it earns 3 stars? 3 stars is in fact the lowest score any vehicle on the first page of your auto reviews has received. Cognitive dissonance?

    Stay tuned. I have a one-star car review somewhere in the editorial pipeline. Hopefully my prose is adequate enough to express my disgust with the machine.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    Perhaps it is in such a big car, but I can think of many cars that are slower than that but are a hoot to drive. You guys are spoiled.

    Jordan: We aren’t spoiled, America is spoiled. The rest of the market offers 250+hp and 6 speeds (even the Taurus) which leaves GM dead last these days.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    We rented one last year with only 3k miles on it. The msrp was $33k. Yeah, right. I was astounded at its craptacularity.

    Pontiac is dead…or at least the dreams of sales of hundreds of thousands of Grand Ams, GPs and Firebirds from 15 years ago is long gone. I remain amazed on how GM has completely bungled the huge (former) sales of Buick, Pontiac, and yes, even Oldsmobile. What the hell were they thinking?

  • avatar
    Joe O

    Jeez guys, there is so much lack of comparative information in these comments.

    0-60 in 8 seconds is not slow for the BASE model 4-door in this class; it’s about average. They offer a sported up model that gives more torque (and torque steer) than any front wheel driver should ever have to take. Pontiac was delivering 0-60 in sub 6 seconds (i.e. 5.6-5.8) for years before the 270 HP Altima/Honda/Camry was….it was just doing it in a far less refined fashion.

    The Pontiac GTP/GXP has used either the supercharged 3.8 liter (~280hp) or the 5.3 liter v8 (~303 HP) with displacement on demand (i.e. can shut down to 4 cylinders) for years now. Both of them have gobs and gobs of torque at low-low-low RPMs.

    And while it’s disgusting that pontiac is producing a 3.8 liter putting out, cough, 200 HP at a time where Honda is putting out an Accord 2.4 liter making 190 HP, the 3.8 liter pushrod still emits decent C02 and obtains reasonable gas mileage on the highway. It’s also reliable.

    4-spd automatics are getting maligned here left and right; but bear in mind, the fact that it’s a 4-speed is not obscure in today’s world: Toyota still uses 4-speeds on alot of their base cars. And both transmissions (toyota and pontiac) are slow to react to driver input.

    My father-in-law owned a 2004/2005 Grand Prix with the 3.8 liter N/A engine as part of his sales job. He put 60k miles on the car in 2 years. It had a huge trunk and a back-door that opened greater than 90 degrees (important for sales guys stuffing their cars full). It’s passenger seat folded flat forward. It only needed oil changes and tires. It was loud on the highway, jarring in the back seat, and had uncomfortable seats in all positions. And it used so much hard plastic that it looked ruined by the time he traded it in (the family isn’t easy on hard, gray plastic).

    Aside from it’s ridiculous ergonomics and cheap make, it’s not a bad car.

    Joe

  • avatar
    David Sklover

    prndlol said ‘Eight seconds to reach 60mph used…’

    I am continually amazed at the level of performance today. My first car was a 65 Barracuda with 273 ‘commando’ V8 and 727 torqueflite, which was considered a fast car for the time, and ran 0-60 in 7 flat, as hand clocked innumerable times. It dropped off after that as first gear was just good for 60. Now your average Honda/Toyota/etc family car will humble that. When brand new (& not much broken in) my 97 SVT Cobra ran 14.2@99.5 and that was supposedly ‘class leading’.. I think new Mazda 4 door sedans will bout run that. The performance wars are incredible. This is truly the golden age of automotive engineering. I disagree re the comment ‘we’re all paying for it at the pump’.
    The fuel efficiency is incredible if you keep your foot out of it. But my real comment: 8 seconds for a large family sedan is not ‘slow’, it’s certainly acceptable for the mainstream, in context. Yes, to me it’s slow (my C5 goes 0-140 in under 16) but a mainstream review can’t filter overly thru an enthusiasts’ viewpoint. It’s a Middle Of The Road V6 Family car…

    Cheers,
    David

  • avatar
    NickR

    The last generation Grand Am crossed with a sea cucumber.

  • avatar
    danms6

    When brand new (& not much broken in) my 97 SVT Cobra ran 14.2@99.5 and that was supposedly ‘class leading’.. I think new Mazda 4 door sedans will bout run that. The performance wars are incredible.

    Agreed on the performance wars. Only one Mazda sedan can run with that as my MS6 does 13.7@98 bone stock.

    Personally, I don’t see 8 seconds for the base model being tortoise-like. Though perhaps it will seem like it after the G8 comes.

  • avatar
    Ashy Larry

    I have to be honest here — just what was the point of this review? I mean, I have driven the car and it certainly is as shabby a competitor as the review portrays it, but did anyone really think otherwise? Is anyone really surprised that the engine has no character, the interior is poorly designed and craptastic, the suspension is soft, the transmission is sloppy, , the design details thoughtless, etc etc ad nauseam? The car is ancient and is slated for a deserved discontinuation. I mean this was basically a rental car review that served as another chance to pile on GM for their abysmal products and for the writer to exercise his rhetorical flourish. The review didn’t even point out (as I woudl have) that, a few years ago when Lutz came on board, he touted the revised Grand Prix as a new world beater — which it certainly wasn’t then and certainly isn’t now.

  • avatar
    Adrian Imonti

    Thanks to everyone for the comments so far. I’ll try to respond to a few basic points above.

    In respect to the star ratings, that was a judgment call. If you total the stars in each of the subcategories, you end up with an average of 2.4. Had I awarded two stars, I’m sure that others would have been critical for rounding downward, so I believe that this is one of those areas in which you can’t please everyone.

    I opted to be generous and go for three stars because of the Buick-like ride (yes, I know, it’s a Pontiac, but does that really make a difference these days?) and the trunk. Obviously, that’s not enough to get me into a showroom anytime soon, and I wouldn’t encourage any of you to go there, either…

    A 200 hp “sports” sedan that needs more than eight seconds to hit the 60 mph threshold is slow by today’s standards. Today, a time within spitting range of seven seconds or less is the norm in this class and with this output. Even ten years ago, the Pontiac’s acceleration would have been competitive, but it no longer is. In the big picture, this is yet another example of the goalposts of the market moving without GM keeping pace. Again, as a consumer, you can do better, so why not do better?

    Thresher K: Looks like a strip of electrical tape from headlamp to headlamp above the grill.

    Funny that you mention that, as I had originally intended to discuss this in an earlier draft of this piece. (With space constraints, something had to give.) Despite first appearances, it’s actually not a panel gap, but an overhang of the hood above the grille. It’s almost as if the hood doesn’t fit properly on the car, but I’m guessing that it was intended to make it easier to open the hood by providing something to grab onto. Not a design cue that works well either in the photos or in the flesh.

  • avatar
    Megan Benoit

    I’d call it a two-star car. Nothing notable about it whatsoever. Though the seat warmers were nice during the cold December days we drove one across nebraska, visiting the family for christmas.

    You don’t have to be an enthusiast to think it’s a slow, stupid, ugly car. Everyone who rode with us thought it was crap… we didn’t have to say anything at all. “Driving excitement”? More like driving excrement. Any car Pontiac puts out needs to be a class leader in some performance category (and not by simply comparing it to other Pontiacs/GMs, or cars from previous years) if they want to salvage their brand. We expect more these days… and Pontiac needs to be giving the public more, if they want to survive.

  • avatar
    konaforever

    I had the pleasure of having a rental Grand Prix when my M3 was in the shop for 6 weeks. Never a worse car have I driven. The suspension was so soft that the turns I usually took became dangerous and I nearly slid off the road as the front tires gave in.
    The handling was awful, and I had as much confidence in the car on the highway as I do on a bicycle on said highway.

  • avatar
    BobJava

    Adrian Imonti,

    With all due respect, the fact that its a Pontiac should make a difference. In fact, this website has, in the past, made a big deal of proper branding and so forth.

    As far as rounding up, I understand your point, but I disagree due to the following:

    1. I’m no math major, but the rule is to round down if it’s .4 or below and round up if it’s .5 or above. And from the looks of it, no one would have complained if you rounded down.

    2a. I didn’t think to look at the average of the individual scores. Is this how the final score is tabulated for other TTAC reviews? Honestly, I don’t know.
    2b. This car certainly isn’t equal to the some of its parts.

    3. It still reads like a two-star review at best. The five-star system should allow for half stars (cars are much more important to most consumers than a hotel), but that isn’t really my issue with this rating.

    I hope I don’t seem like I’m dwelling on it. Overall, its a good review. It’s just that the conclusion is baffling.

  • avatar
    tankd0g

    0-60 in 8 seconds is not slow but there is a lot to be said for perception. My Celica does it in 9, and yet it feels and sounds much faster. I would imagine it seems like an eternaty sitting behind one of those anchient 3800s mated to one of the sluggish transmissions to survive the 1990s.

  • avatar
    triggmatic

    OK, so we’ve established that the Grand Prix is no award winner, but I rented one a few months ago for a 750 mile trip and have to say the car wasn’t all that bad. It had a sound, smooth ride, lots of space. had comfy front seats and delivered reasonable gas mileage. Yes, it did have too much cheap plastic, and no, it wouldn’t win a beauty contest, but I also recently rented a Hyundai and a Kia that were nothing to brag about either. Let’s just hope that General Motors is now (finally) listening to the consumer and will deliver a much better product with the G8. I don’t know about you guys, but I really want the Detroit Big 3 to eventually win its way back with the American Consumer. I have to think we can make just as good if not better cars than the Japanese or Europeans. Just for the record, I have a ’04 Acura TL. Good looking car but it has a weak Bluetooth system, cheap leather seats and way too many rattles and squeaks. I plan to dump it in a few months.

  • avatar
    Adrian Imonti

    Bob Java: With all due respect, the fact that its a Pontiac should make a difference.

    I should have used the sarcasm font for that one. I was being a bit snarky there.

    I would agree that it should make a difference. But after a few decades of this muddled branding, it doesn’t matter much any more. Since I’ve acquiesced to the fact that this is not a true sports sedan, we may as well give a bit of credit where it’s due for the ride.

    On pockmarked city streets, the car does perform decently, and if those are the driving conditions to which you are accustomed, the Grand Prix could be tolerable. But it’s not much fun to toss around and it sure doesn’t sound as if it’s having a good time doing it.

    I would have given it a 2 1/2 star rating if I could, but as the rating system at present does not have this designation, I went for 3. Again, I’m sure that some would have objected had I elected to go for a 2, instead.

    Ashy Larry: Just what was the point of this review?

    This is a mass production car that is being sold today at your local dealership (with, last I checked, a $1,000 rebate, but I digress.) And to give a bit of credit to Mr. Farago and the rest of the TTAC team, I’m glad that this site has the fortitude to test the standard-level cars that most people actually buy, and not just the tricked-out specialty versions that attract the attention of the buff books.

    I’ve frankly always found it to be disingenuous that the glossy mags will focus almost exclusively on performance variants of these types of cars, while completely ignoring the cars that sell the most copies. While there may not be much glamor in it, I think that the readership deserves a candid look at the vehicles that they are more likely to live with day to day. Virtually nobody actually buys the V-8 or supercharged 3800′s, so why are they the only ones that seem to get tested?

  • avatar
    BobJava

    Good points. And you’d think I’d be on sarcasm high-alert on this website.

    And I concur; there’s always use for a review of a mass market car.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    A two year old model with 30,000 miles would sell for $11,400 on average.

    Even if it were $2000 cheaper, I wouldn’t consider it. There is simply nothing endearing to those base models. However, I will say that a LeSabre for a similar price can be decent deal if you do a lot of highway driving. 200k of driving, 30 mpg, and it’s actually very comfortable.

  • avatar

    Back in ’67 Oldsmobile offered an option for Cutlass and Cutlass Supreme models called the L66 Turnpike Cruiser package (not to be confused with the ill-fated ’57-’58 Mercury). It included a special version of the Olds 400 with a two-barrel carb and very cool valve timing aimed at low-end torque, TH400 with an absurdly tall axle ratio, and the 4-4-2′s heavy-duty suspension. It was not a muscle car; it was designed for effortless, low-stress, high-speed cruising.

    Last summer a friend of mine and I rented a 2005 Grand Prix sedan for a trip through the Dirty South. The GP reminded me a lot of the Turnpike Cruiser in concept. It was relatively firm in suspension tuning (better damping than I expected), had lots and lots of torque, and a ridiculously long axle ratio giving barely 3,000 rpm at 90 mph. (Her mom’s Impala, which has the same powertrain, has a higher numerical final drive, and was notably quicker at low speeds.) It was not a nimble car in terms of real handling or maneuverability, and the less said about its interior or exterior styling and build quality the better, but on smooth Southern highways at 85+, it was in its element, and bordered on impressive. It was well-sorted, reasonably quiet, and returned around 25 mpg on regular gas, despite, er, elevated average speeds.

    American cars have always been good at that kind of cruising, so there’s no surprise there. It’s too bad that for many, that remains their only trick.

  • avatar
    rtz

    They still make those cars? That one in the pics looks like an ’03 model that some girl I know drives.

  • avatar
    phil

    Simpson HAS been arrested. Hopefully he won’t use a white Grand Prix to make his getaway!

  • avatar
    davey49

    Probably better car used than new. A $5-10K discount can cover a lot of flaws.
    I’ve never thought this car was ever sporty.

  • avatar
    Nemphre

    Having owned a W-body car, the sooner they kill the platform the better. I can’t think of one good thing about my mid-late 90s W car. Compared to a Camry of the same period, it isn’t better in any way, except price I guess, but after paying for the depreciation, upkeep, and mechanical failures it may not even be able to claim that.

  • avatar
    Mrb00st

    i agree with Adrian Imonti. I can count the number of Grand Prix GXP (5.3 V8) i have seen on public roads on one hand. And i’ve heard they’re pretty awful. I do actually see quite a few of it’s twin, the Impala SS, which is apparently even worse.

    I’ve always though the Grand Prix GTP (3.8 S/C) would have been a great performance bargain if they had hooked it up to a real transmission instead of a 4 speed auto. In current trim, the GTP Comp G has 260 horses and does 0-60 in 6.28 seconds (if i remember the ads right) which is right quick for a sub – 30k car.

    plus the aftermarket for the 3800SC is pretty considerable. I have some respect for the GTP’s just for bang-for-the-buck. bigger injectors, software, cam, headers, 3.5″ or 3.25″ supercharger drive pulley and you are making a TON of power for small cash outlay, especially with a used GTP – the new ones aren’t any better than the old ones. but in rental spec 200bhp form, what an awful car. I had to drive one around this summer as part of my job and… a previous generation taurus is a nicer car.

  • avatar
    xantia10000

    I rented a Grand Prix once.

    I liked two things about it: (1) meter cluster needles are shaped like crutches, and (2) when you press one of the 107 buttons on the IP, the speedo automatically toggles between mph and kph, which seems to be a now common feature on GM vehicles.

    Then I crashed it.

    Poor Gran wasn’t able to cling onto a canyon road between LA and Ventura Counties, understeered into an embankment (cliffs just up the road would probably spelled death for me), spun 180 degrees and smashed itself down, severing off the P-side front wheel.

    My passenger and I were unscathed, so I guess you can add a third thing about the GP that I liked…

  • avatar
    James2

    I’m surprised no one has brought it up yet:

    Pontiac. We build excitement. (Uh, right…)

    On the History Channel –or was it A&E???– anyway, from what little I recall, they had a show on Pontiac and how it invented the GTO and did an end-run around GM practices and prohibitions, like squeezing in a bigger engine… all kinds of mischief were being perpetuated by the likes of Bunkie Knudsen and John DeLorean.

    Ah, those were the good old days. Was it Roger Smith who decided that Thou Shalt Have No Separate Divisions run by people who actually cared about the kind of cars their brands offered?

    Even if this was a base Grand Prix it’s an insult to the image Pontiac spent a lot of time and trouble creating, not to mention the race-derived name itself.

  • avatar
    svensk

    One thing nice to say…The 3.8 is bullet proof. You can’t kill that thing.

  • avatar
    f8

    Now that the GTO is gone, there are no appealing vehicles in Pontiac’s lineup at all. I’m sort of looking forward to the G8, but I’m sure that Pontiac/GM will find a way to mess it up, like they did with GTO’s seemingly winning formula.

  • avatar
    jaje

    Let’s repeat Pontiac’s Mantra – “We Build Excitement”

    How in any way is the Grand Prix exciting? Regardless of whether you can get the old mill with it’s lifesupport (supercharger) or get the corporate 5.3 v8 under the hood. This car is not exciting in anyway unless you’re an 60+ year old accountant and want something faster than the 4 cylinder Daewoo / Aveo you just traded in.

    I’ve gotten 2 of these cars as rentals in the past year and was still dumbfounded they were still being sold. The mechanical pinnacle of early 1980′s techology – 4 speed auto and ohv v-6 engine. Sure it’s punchy as it has displacement and ohv which gives you low end truck like torque. It’s when you sell a “performance” sedan from GM’s supposed “performance” brand and the engine runs out of all steam at 5000 rpm just says volumes as to how bland these cars are. So they shod them with wide tires and misnomers such as “wide track”. It doesn’t make them fast it makes them rental fleet flavor.

  • avatar
    r129

    I love how everyone seems amazed that they still make this car. Let’s not forget, this is the “new” Grand Prix that debuted for the 2004 model year. Which, in my opinion, looks more dated inside and out than the previous 1997-2003 incarnation.

  • avatar
    tankd0g

    I always thought the previous generation looked resonably sporty, with it’s sculpted spoiler and pointy front end. This latest and last one, reminds me of a Beluga whale. At least the Impala is…car shaped.

    • 0 avatar
      wheelindm

      I like the 97- 2003 body style. They are muscular and look masculine. The 2004 i would have to agree, looks like a whale or a melted down version of ofther newer cars. Alot of new cars all look the same. Older cars are more likeable.

  • avatar
    salhany

    I didn’t own a GP, but I had and enjoyed a ’99 Olds Intrigue for 5 years (2001-2006) that I just sold in Feb.

    I tested a GP around the time I bought the Olds, and the Pontiac struck me as the obnoxious 15 year old kid brother of the more refined Intrigue. The 3.8 was much harsher than the 3.5 in the Olds, the Pontiac had awful orange interior lighting and cheap headrests on the seats and a multitude of flimsy buttons everywhere.

    That was the previous generation to the car reviewed here, but it sounds like the Grand Prix never grew up. This car is profoundly uncompetitive in today’s market.

  • avatar
    mlbrown

    Oh, Pontiac. I feel sorry for you.

    I really do. My first car was a Pontiac. A real pile of shiat. Then I owned another one. An even bigger heap.

    But, you know, I always thought that if Pontiac could offer some real driving excitement, I’d buy one. My friends would laugh because they remember the “Milennium Finch,” but I’d have a good, strong performance car.

    No.

    I won’t do it. Pontiac has utterly failed to make any connection between its success on the track and the cars it offers to potentially buyers. At least if I go and buy a WRX or a Mazda6, there are some reasonable similarities between those cars and the ones you see driven by rally drivers and Randy Pobst.

    I think the G6 coupe is a really nice looking car…when it’s on the track and called the GXP-R, which just won the GT class title in the Rolex Sports Car series. That car is a tube frame RWD V8, but why couldn’t Pontiac at least make the production G6 look a little more like that car…hunkered down, mean. Why couldn’t they make it RWD and play up the racing angle?

    Sorry, Pontiac. Sorry, GM. I won’t be found on your dealer lot anytime soon. The people I see driving new Pontiacs have rented them, or are old and have bought them because the Pontiac dealership is closest to their house.

    -Matt

  • avatar
    Ashy Larry

    Pontiac is an ebarrassment right now. The G6 is indistinguishable dynamically from the Malibu. The Grand Prix is a moldering pile. The Torrent is badge engineered silliness. The only thing they have going for them right now from a quality standpoint is the aged Vibe, but it barely sells. The GTO was a nice performance detour but it was a little crude. The Solstice is a looker and but imperfectly executed. The G8 is promising but it’s going to take a lot more than a large RWD sedan to transform the brand. It may be too little too late, with Saturn’s resurgence, Buick putting together some nice stuff like the Enclave and Chevy having a stranglehold on GM’s everyday buyer.

  • avatar
    carlisimo

    Oh wow. I read the review, posted a comment… and the whole time I thought this was a review of a car that was out of production! I thought it was strange to do another retro review.

    They seriously still sell this thing?

  • avatar
    brettc

    Wow, it’s 2007, but if you try to build one at pontiac.com, you’ll find that 4 wheel disc brakes with ABS and EBD is a $600 option! And if you select it, a popup comes up saying an error occurred, and the price isn’t updated. WTF? That’s pretty (un)impressive. So I don’t know if this thing does come with 4 wheel discs with ABS, or if it doesn’t and Pontiac’s site is just broken, like everything else at GM. I do know one thing: my 2000 Jetta has 4 wheel discs with ABS and EBD as a standard feature, and it was built 7 years ago. If I wanted to spend $22500 on a piece of crap, I’d buy myself a gold plated turd.

    And as others said, I had no idea GM still made this thing. I’ll see them sometimes and laugh, but I didn’t think they were still in production. I don’t even know where the closest Pontiac dealer is. Shows how interested I am in purchasing a piece of driving excitement/crap.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    I’m shocked that so many people didn’t know the GP was still in production. Then again, I’ve considered it dead since the late-90s reskinning.

    The W-body never met GM’s sales expectations, since this was supposed to be the Taurus-slayer. Considering how little has changed since 1989 (90 degree V6, 4-spd, crude dynamics and assembly) I guess there’s good reason for everyone’s disbelief.

    At least the blown V6s will be good fun compared to its foreign competition. Just don’t forget the premium fuel. :)

  • avatar
    zenith

    GM made a fatal error not keeping the RWD sedans it had up through the ’96 model year, turning the Texas plant that made them into an SUV plant.

    Pontiac should have made a real Bonneville, ala the Impala SS of the day ( not a warmed-over Le Sabre), and campaigned for a coupe or convertible body as the basis of a real Grand Prix.

    The RWD chassis could have been eventually converted to independent rear suspension in at least the sportier models–Impala SS and Bonneville and hopefully Grand Prix/ Impala coupe.

    The only unique vehicle in Pontiac’s lineup, the Aztek, was axed in ’05. The Low-rent is a poor substitute, smaller on the inside, just as heavy overall, slightly lower EPA stats, generic styling.

  • avatar
    salokj

    I just rented one of these for what was supposed to be a 2-week rental, but a blown tire had me trading in the Grand Prix for a Corolla…I asked Alamo how that was possible, but only in the wonderful world of automobile rentals can a Grand Prix and a Corolla inhabit the same class…I’m not kidding. Anyway, changing from a Grand Prix directly to a Corolla and immediately driving 500 highway miles made me appreciate the Pontiac that much more…Bitch all you like about that 4-speed auto…try a mating a 3 speed to a 1.8 litre lawn tractor engine.

    Anyway, I found the seats quite supportive and didn’t think the engine was as bad as its made out to be in the review. But the whole time I had the car, all I could think was “how can ‘America’s sports marque’ have the e-brake next to the normal brake, on the floor?” What the hell is sporty about that?

    Oh well, other than that, this car was respectable rental car fodder, nothing less and certainly nothing more.

    NB: It made it through Death Valley in mid-August. That gives a couple of points in my book.

  • avatar
    ajla

    If there was ever a brand I wish would do retro designs, it’s Pontiac.

  • avatar
    inept123

    ajla

    These new Pontiacs ARE retro designs, albeit perhaps inadvertently.

  • avatar
    86er

    If there was ever a brand I wish would do retro designs, it’s Pontiac.

    Yes, one heaping dose of ’63 GP styling for me, please.

  • avatar
    noley

    I wound up renting one of these beasts three times this past summer–put about 1000 miles on the three cars, 600 in one of them. Sadly, they was about the best of what was available on National’s Emerald Aisle when I reached it on each trip.

    Two of them were the normal motor, the other was the “supercharged” version. I hoped for more with that but there was really no appreciable difference in the cars. The blown version was definitely quicker off the line and up to about 60, but I was hoping for some better passing performance. It was somewhat better, but seat of the pants feel was little different. I’m used to a Saab turbo with 14 lbs of boost that jumps from 60 to 90, but the GP just eased on up to a higher speed with no eagerness or urgency. It just felt like it had extra power, not what you’d expect from a boosted motor.

    Comfort was OK. I’m picky about seats and these weren’t bad for me, but they’re really just mediocre. Ergonomics are generally kinda blah. Steering was pretty numb. GM seems to equate adding effort to the steering with feel. I like the effort but the steering is still not where it should be.

    The best I can say is that they are OK as a rental for a couple of days. I had one for nearly a week and you get used to it being what it is.

  • avatar
    Tommy Jefferson

    I see Grand Prixs falling apart at red lights in my town. Faded plastics, parts flapping in the wind, not enough owner pride to even wash the thing once per year.

    One of the housekeepers here at work showed up in a new Grand Prix. She was so proud. We all felt sorry or her ignorance. It’s been a constant source of suffering and horror for her. She now hates it. We tried to warn her.

  • avatar
    durailer

    This post might be a little off topic, but on the subject of reviving Pontiac from it’s mediocrity, this website has shown the way in past editorials. Performance is easy to understand amongst the buying public. TTAC has said that Pontiac should RWD everything and keep improving the Solstice. The G8 will be a step in the right direction.

    Here’s something I’d like to add to the debate: make Pontiac GM’s TUNERZ division. Design platforms so that they are simple and serviceable (RWD). Clean up the junk under the hood -those ancient GM crate-engines will find a home here. Keep costs down by avoiding techno-gizmos (leave those for another division), and cultivate a wide range of after-market parts (at a premium price). Offer base models as stripper cars for future hot-rod customization.

    Think of converting ’68 Tempests into fake (but desirable) GTOs and you get the idea.

  • avatar
    fallout11

    Tiger Commanche said:
    “I can’t believe I just read “pushrod” and “fI can’t believe I just read “pushrod” and “four speed automatic” in a new car review in 2007. It’s like we went back in time to the early ’90s. What’s next? Will I turn on the TV and see that O.J. Simpson has been arrested?”

    I could not agree more.
    My friend, the 3800 V6 dates to 1988, and shares much in common with the ancient 231cu Buick 3.8L it was based on, dating back to the mid 1970′s (eg 1975 Skyhawk, Apollo, Century, Regal, Skylark), right down to its 90 degree layout.

    What decade are we in?
    Why can’t Pontiac ditch corrugated plastic?
    Or the 1000 tiny plastic buttons and knobs that fill the cockpit?
    Drum brakes in a ‘performance’ car?
    Or the chronic understeer?
    Sheesh!

    Damaged brand, indeed.

  • avatar
    stimpy

    It is forgivable that GM wishes to limp across the finish line with this car, albeit in last place, as they were never competing seriously in this race in the first place. Clearly, this is one car in need of discontinuation and discontinued it shall soon be. Mercifully. So why bother putting a DIME into the thing for its last model year? If there are suckers out there who somehow can bring themselves to purchase the thing, so be it. I only hope they get a smokin’ deal on it.

    Yes, the “preformance” marque at GM is an entirely hollow proposition. Yes, this vehicle is rental fleet fodder. What else do you expect from such a struggling brand? Perhaps this is yet another brand that GM plans to kill off. Clearly, Pontiac hasn’t meant much of anything for decades now, other than retarded design and execution. I have never been so repulsed by any other brand’s interior and exterior design. Never mind how it drives, because you could never get me in one. I have never seen a more clueless attempt at “performance” styling and execution than what Pontiac has crapped out, year after year, for as long as I can remember.

    I don’t even blame GM’s engineers. They are undoubtedly struggling along, with no leadership, no budget, no direction. Rather, GM has some real lackluster folks in their marketing department, that’s for sure. And their auto stylists ain’t so hot, either. If you’re going to just re-skin an aging platform that screams third-rate status, at least do it in a compelling way! I don’t care if it’s retro or futuristic or outlandish, or whatever. Just don’t put out another bloated Circus Peanut-looking monstrosity (with bulging this and humpbacked that) and have these blaring, “performance”-oriented commercials with the Matt Dillon voice-over, pretending like you’ve got this line-up of bad ass rides. It’s just kinda embarrassing and sad that this huge flagship manufacturer, with such a rich history, has come to this.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    My two favorite engines are the GM 3800 and the Jeep 4.0 (now China only).

    You can have all the aluminum parts, camshafts and valves you want, I’ll take cast iron.

    My lawn tractor is a one lung Cub Cadet Kohler iron flathead.

  • avatar
    Ashy Larry

    Regardsing the GP seats, they were not the usual horrible GM foam, but they were not good.

    When carmakers like Volvo can create incredibly comfortable, supportive, throne-like seats in their cars, why can’t GM get with the program? Of all the things to cost-cut, why go for the one thing that is most likely to make people happy — comfy seats? Chrysler and Ford are also incredibly guilty here. I tend to find the Japanese of varying quality, and the Germans are good if you opt for sport seats, but base seats in German cars are barely a step above coach class airlines seats.

    Whenever I car shop I rule out scads of cars based simply on the fact that my back and a** can’t stand to sit more than ten minutes in them whethout aching, let along 5-8 hours.

  • avatar
    davey49

    I’m trying to figure out where everyone got the idea that Pontiacs are sports cars. When I was growing up we had a 1972 Pontiac Grand Safari wagon. Definitely unsporty. I suppose they had the Firebird and Fiero and now the Solstice but nearly every car company has their pseudo-sporty models. They were vastly outnumbered by Catalinas, Bonnevilles, Grand Ams, Grand Prixs, Safaris and Sunbirds.
    Anyone remember the Ventura?
    I think if they made a retro Grand Prix they should copy the 1969 model

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    I’m used to a Saab turbo with 14 lbs of boost that jumps from 60 to 90, but the GP just eased on up to a higher speed with no eagerness or urgency. It just felt like it had extra power, not what you’d expect from a boosted motor.

    Noley: what you noted is typical of a low boost, roots-type supercharger. They make awesome amounts of torque, but HP is not their strong point. (unlike most turbo applications)

    I’m pretty sure the blown 3.8L doesn’t churn out 14psi from the factory, but you can get it there and make highway passing a lot more interesting. Once you do that (and address the weak points of the FWD layout) I’ve seen GTPs run 12s in the quarter mile. That’s seriously fast.

  • avatar
    pdub

    This vehicle deserves 2 stars – tops. The one positive described, its roominess, is actually a negative. The interior is much smaller than it should be. Put an adult in the backseat and be instantly astounded at how little head and leg room there is in a car as large as this. Blame the ultra long hood – it’s a terrible car to park. Also, the creaks and groans also have the familiar GM steering column clunk to go along with them. I can’t get over what a terrible vehicle this is.

  • avatar
    noley

    Sajeev:
    Thanks for the clarification on superchargers. I guess I just expected more, having driven Mini Cooper S models with belt-driven blowers. (I know, apples and oranges). The full atmosphere of boost I get in my Saab is straight from the factory. Much more is available with tweaks to the ECU. Guess it has me spoiled.

    And Ashy Larry:
    Couldn’t agree more on the seats… in the GP or anything. I don’t know why more manufacturers don’t put in decent seats. Saab and Volvo have done it for years, and German car seats are generally quite good, too. I’ve had German or Swedish cars for 40 years and find domestics and Japanese cars sorely lacking (pardon the pun) in the seat department. There are exceptions, but darn few.

    I’m told seats are expensive to engineer and build, something I find hard to believe since there’s not a whole lot of technology involved and how to make them is well known. IMHO it’s just something most manufacturer’s don’t care about. And that makes me not care about buying their cars. I’ve walked out of dealerships because the seats in models I’ve been looking at were not up to what I’ve gotten used to.

  • avatar
    blue adidas

    I’ve rented this car, and I’d put it on par with the driving dynamics and overall appeal of a base Camry. They’re both miserable appliances, but some cars get a pass while some do not. I found the engine to actually be very good, the interior was terrible and the overall intelligence and thoughtfulness of the design is very poor. But what really irked me had nothing to do with any of that. When I reached inside to grab the inside of the trunk lid to pull it down, I was scraped by the edge of unfinished metal. My Audi is lined with a handle and so are many other GM vehicles. This car deserves to go away forever.

  • avatar
    rollingwreck

    adidas –

    what a coincidence, i rented one of these last week, and my wife also cut herself not only on the trunklid, but also on the edge of the door. Exposed metal everywhere.

    Truly terrible, and GM execs wonder why people think their cars are trash. Note to GM: rentals are free advertising. Treat them as such.

  • avatar
    P.J. McCombs

    I had one of these as a rental recently, too (who hasn’t?).

    My favorite part was the uniquely hoary, gurgly, hole-in-the-muffler exhaust note that Pontiac (still) seems to equate with “sport.” 1980s Firebirds with the 2.8 V6 sounded almost identical.

    The drive wasn’t bad compared to a like-priced Camry. Aside from the bobbly, oversprung ride (ooh, sporty!), it went where it was aimed and didn’t take much acclimation. The ancient four-speed didn’t even bother me; its crisp gearchanges and lack of torque-converter slop offset its missing gear vs. Toyota’s five-speed, IMO. That said, I’d like to know how GM judged a 200-inch-long car with sub-Corolla-sized rear-seat and trunk space competitive.

    Any “revival” cred Pontiac might have gained with the Solstice and upcoming G8 was largely squandered when they coughed up the G5 and Torrent for whining dealers. Classic Roger Smith stuff.

    For the forseeable future, I can’t see how Pontiac will be viewed as anything but GM’s chest-wig division. Or is that Hummer now?

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    Noley: I don’t know the exact numbers, but I bet the Cooper S is churning out more boost than the GTP. Not to mention the rev happy motor, lighter car, etc.

    But it’s a conservative tune for a lawsuit averse GM family sedan: you can boost the heck outta the 3.8L with a smaller pulley and ECU recalibration, I wouldn’t be surprised if its on par with the gains you see with your Saab.

    Not that I’m recommending you tweak a GTP and sell your Saab. :)

  • avatar
    blueandgold

    I have owned 2 Grand Prixs and they are very reliable with a good amount of power. Considering all of the more expensive cars out there spend more time in the shop and cost 2 to 3 times more, why would you waste your time and money. Also, as far as the car taking 8 seconds to get from 0-60, someone needs a new stop watch. These cars are much quicker then that due to their torque. These ar nice looking fun to drive cars. I am only 25 and traded in my Camaro Z28 to have a Grand Prix. Best decision I have ever made.

    • 0 avatar
      wheelindm

      Thank you. Finally one person that likes the grand prix. I love mine also. I have the supercharged version and its amazing. And even if someone thinks its slow, they just have to tweak a few things like the pulley and a new belt, or a new air filter. And there is nothing better than hearing the supercharger whine. I love the design inside and out. I dont know what is wrong with some peoples opinions. But for a 4 door large family sedan. its pretty fast.

  • avatar
    Redbarchetta

    blueandgold Wait until your Grand Prix decides it wants to just shut off while trying to merge from an on ramp onto a very busy interstate with 80 mph trucks charging on you. You wont like it so much after that, if you life to tell about it. Having my wifes Grand Prix crushed was the most satisfying day of ownership on that POS.

  • avatar
    Redbarchetta

    Haha very funny. That lousy POS almost killed my wife twice, with my daughter another kid in the back. I hope that car became manhole covers or sewer pipe.

  • avatar
    pb35

    I recently reserved a Premium car at my hometown Budget for a week. It’s always been a Crown Vic or a Grand Marquis. Or better, sometimes a Town Car. When I got to the counter last Saturday I was told that they had a GP for me. After a brief discussion about how a GP is not a Premium ride my wallet was $35 lighter.

    First impression, formed while reading my rental agreement while walking: “Holy crap, this thing has almost 19k miles!” It’s going to be bad I said to myself. The Charcoal Pontiac didn’t look bad sitting there with twin spoke 17″ rims and a “GT” badge on the trunk. The interior reminds me of an 88 Grand Am that I drove for a bit back in 89. Same feel and smell too. Weird. Auto down on only the drivers window! It doesn’t get any cheaper than that. The drive is shaky/shuddery while accelerating as well as stopping. This probably has a lot to do with the fact that my car is about at the end of it’s rental life. The stereo sounds good as long as you don’t turn it up too high. The car drives well enough as long as you don’t go too fast. I think I can smell the catalytic converter. I got a flat. In short, I can’t wait to dump this thing and go home.

  • avatar
    phewop118

    I know I’m posting in a month-old comment section, but I will do so anyway. The Grand Prix isn’t nearly as bad as the review makes it out to be (most people that read ttac and post are asian-car lovers). The 3800, while not the newest engine on the market, is one of the best ever, with great torque and respectable horsepower. It’s also very smooth, incredibly fuel efficient, and has to be the most reliable engine ever made. Even though it is ancient, it is still competitive with new engines, especially when you’re talking about the supercharged model. The V8 is even better, with power at all speeds. The 4 speed auto is probably older than the engine, but lack of gears and all, it’s still decent enough with firm enough, but not jarring shifts.

    While the exterior does look bloated and the interior has quite an odd-looking air about it, it is quite functional. The doors open really wide and the trunk opening is large. Inside, everything is placed in the perfect location, save for the trunk release which is on the lock switch. Also, most of the interior plastics are actually soft touch and feel quality, unlike those in the new gen Camry’s or outgoing gen Accords, which are cheap, hollow, hard shit. The center stack in the GP has this plastic, but everywhere else is a nice, rubberized, soft material. Who the hell said the seats suck – the seats are INCREDIBLE! Tons of side-support and good lumbar support and they have a very wide range of adjustments. What gets me, for a car so damn big, the back seat is so damn small, though it’s still large enough for someone my size (6′ 215 lbs) to sit in for 30 min, maximum.

    While some 04 GP’s had slightly clunky steering as the miles got on (umm just about every camry, highlander, etc from that platform’s last generation has very clunky steering, which is way worse than this pontiac’s), the steering’s pretty solid. Good effort levels, especially with the Magnasteer II, but as most have said, it is numb, which isn’t a bad thing, as it won’t turn on its own when you hit a bump, unlike some (CAMRY). It’s better suited for regular driving than sporty driving.

    Then there’s the suspension. On the base models, it is very soft, giving a nice ride, but not too pillowy. In the corners, it does lean way too much and understeers too early. The mid-level suspension does a much better job of keeping things even-keeled, without having a jarring ride. The GXP suspension is actually sporty and exhibits very little understeer, which is mainly do the unequal tire sizes in the front and back.

    Now to address the creaks/rattles. Some early build models had some creaks in the seats, console, and sunroof (if equipped), but now, these damn things are more solid and quiet than any honda or toyota or even other gm w-bodies.

    Anybody taking the time to read this post probably wonders how I can compare vehicles like this. I’m sure most of those who posted and compared probably haven’t driven more than 5 or 6 different vehicle made in the last 10 years. I have driven almost every car on the market currently or that was on the market within the past 10 years – I do valet parking. I know what they are all about and which ones are hyped and which are much better than most people think. I see all the flaws in vehicles that get nothing but praise and can’t understand why the hell people think they are so great, for example, Camry, Accord, the entire Lexus lineup, Passat, Jetta, Rabbit, A4, Fusion, Pilot, Odyssey, Ridgline, Mustang, etc. Then there are the way underrated vehicles, such as the Grand Prix, Galant, SRX, Lucerne, 7-series, Avalanche, and so on. Then there are vehicles that have praising reviews by some and horrid reviews by others, such as the Malibu (which is horrible), or the GTO (which is incredible). I have a well-formulated opinion on every car, which unlike most people, is based on a first-hand experience.

  • avatar
    ekulwyo

    According to Fleet Central, 77% of Grand Prixs made are part of fleets, even more than the lovely Aveo or famously fleeted Sebring.

  • avatar
    Kevin Kluttz

    Drove a rental 2008 GP while our 2001 Accord EX had some minor body work done…I’m a diehard Honda fanatic, but that GP would kick its butt in almost every aspect…except those interior materials and the perceived quality down the road…I doube I’d get 185000 trouble-free miles out of a GP like this wonderful Accord has given me, but for a cheap “RenCen” car, that GP was awesome!!

  • avatar
    Kevin Kluttz

    fallout:
    Grand Prixs have had rear disc brakes since 1988. Even on the base model. I’m reluctantly driving one right now until something better that I can afford comes along. Now the ’88 IS a piece of crap.

  • avatar
    Grand_Prix

    the grand prix has been around since 1962 the oldest pontiac still alive to this day gm will regret the day they offed the GP the new g8 sucks ass you think the GP is big you should see the g8 its huge bulky shity trunk room pathatic guage cluster and the 4 spoke stearing wheel has got to go and already gm is talkin bout offing the g8 the 2009-2010 g8 gxp will be the last g8s to come out the fucked up plain and simple the interior of my 07 GP is fuckin beatuifal sexy as hell every where i go my GP gets stared at people see me get out and ask if i really own such a hot car they see the interior and they decide right then and there they want one the Grand Prix is the best car on the road to day reliable quick as fuck 8 sec yeah right more like 6 i smoke superchargers in my base 3800 v6 people see my taillights for they even know i went past em

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    I would not call 8 seconds to 60 slow. The bland generic Camry with it’s stunning 158 HP 2.4 and sluggish hesitating 5 speed automatic can only muster 9 seconds to 60. Chevys own new style Malibu with a base 2.4 and 6 speed automatic can only mamage 8.7 seconds to 60, a Dodge Caravan SE with 175 HP 3.3 V6 needed 11.0 seconds to reach 60 and the pathetic Honda Fit needs 11.0 seconds with 4 speed automatic to reach 60. I’ll agree the 3800 is not the quietest engine around and GM would have been better off with the stronger 242 HP 3900 V6 as in the Impala. The biggest three things I have trouble with in the current GP is the park bench hard back seat, lack of back seat legroom and the terrible designed interior which makes the 97-03 version look pretty good in comparison. I actually prefer the exterior styling of the current GP to the mediocre bland import G8 which is just another BMW 5 series rehash like the new Accord. It takes Pontiac in the wrong direction style wise with it’s boring plain slab sides and “I can’t tell what it is foreign Asian brand car look”. It’s really comical to see this BMW wannabe with it’s retro Pontiac twin nostrils jutting out of the hood trying oh so hard to be a Pontiac. A shame really as the rest of the G8 is pretty good other than it’s lack of AWD and high price tag.

  • avatar
    j.gennaro1

    I brought my 2006 Grand Prix in August 2007. I chose recently used since a new car always takes the biggest drop value immediately after driving it off the lot. Unlike a majority of the responses above, I was also very impressed with it’s styling. I have also received a number of compliments from others about that.
    When I initially went car shopping, its Japanese competitors were not even on my radar. I can’t see what so appealing about their Asiatic styling, which always is either coma inducing blandness or stomach churning ugliness. It’s the one thing they all excel at. Also, I take no credence in the ones that have higher resale value either. Why pay a few thousand more dollars for a car that will deteriorate just as quickly, on average are not backed by better warranties, and have noisy anemic four bangers as base engines.
    I even question their reliability. A friend’s 2005 Camry she brought new had that engine seize after she had it for two years due to a shattered piston ring at around 20,000 miles. I spent a week with a rental Camry two years ago that had automatic headlamp function that did not work, climate control knobs ready to fall of the dash and a steering column that started vibrating the second day. A girl I work with had purchased new 2004 Maxima and after only three days it had to be towed due to a blown transmission. Later on the moon roof fell off it’s track twice.
    My Grand Prix is a base model with the aspirated 3800 V6. So what if it’s an older OHV type engine. Because of that type of engine’s simplicity, GM could offer a V6 for the same average price versus its foreign competitor’s four cylinder models. The extra ponies and extreme smoothness, more than make up for the average two-mile per gallon less mileage than the typical four cylinder midsize car gets. 3800’s and even the older and if somewhat crude 3.8 carbureted version where also extremely durable.
    All of the instrumentation is very easy to understand and I can operate every button and knob while wearing gloves. The information/settings screen is a convenient featureI also like the FM radio and it’s information display along with its ability to automatically adjust the volume for background noise.

  • avatar

    I have owned this car for four years now.  I disagree with the majority of this review.  For the most part I feel as though you completely missed all the good points of this car, and the bad points weren’t justifiable.
    Performance:
    0-60 in 8 seconds… wrong, I have timed it numerous times, I have multiple timesheets, and the cars I have raced against at the Shelor Motor Mile Dragway definitely don’t suggest 8 seconds.  I have had my car on the lift to inspect it thoroughly, I can tell you, most of it is aluminum.  it weighs a paultry 3400lbs for a car as large as a 7 series.  Like anyone with common sense, the first thing I done when I got my car (with 30k miles on it) was switch to synthetic oils, and buy a new set of tires (firestone firehawks).  My 0-60 times have been in the range of 6.8-7.5 depending on track conditions and releasing the brake (brake torquing).  As far as handling and steering goes… this car sticks to the road.  As far as a front wheel drive car goes, it’s very planted, has far less body roll than a honda accord, or toyota camry, and the steering tightens up at a relatively nice level as the car is pushed harder.  You won’t be complaining of your arm being tired after a long drive either.  Last winter, I had to drive 60 miles in the snow to get from my college to my home, I was passing subarus and jeeps going through the mountains of WV and VA in 8” of snow.  I’d like to see your Toyota Camry do that.  On average I’m getting 28mpg with a great deal of city driving.  Everyone is acting like big displacement and pushrods are a bad thing.  They’re an old thing, not a bad thing.  Sure, you might be able to squeeze more power out of a 2.0L something another with VVT and other acronyms but you don’t get the same torque.  Not to mention you burn more fuel running the piss out of a small engine than a big engine just cruising.
    The interior:
    Some of the plastics are cheap.  My dash rattles a little bit, the FM radio is so-so, and my CD player skips with certain CD’s.  Who cares, I use my ipod and an FM transmitter, and the 7 speaker Monsoon sound system is awesome.  I’ve yet to find another car with a sound system half a nice as this one.  My uncles BMW 328i’s premium sound package is nowhere near as full sounding as this one… so I never hear the dash rattling
    As I am often the driver of my groups of friends, I frequently get comments, like… dude, this is a nice car, the interior is badass, there is a load of leg room, these seats are comfy, the air conditioner works awesome, the heated seats dont feel like a shart like most cars, the stereo is awesome, I love the dash, the speedo is sweet… etc.  I’m sorry, but the interior of most other cars comparable are just plain and bland.
     
    I now have 120,000 miles on it.  I’ve only had it in the shop for maintenence.  I love my car.  I’ve been a gearhead as long as I can remember, I know what to look for in a nice vehicle.  For $13,000 with 30k miles, leather, sunroof, V6, enough trunk space for a Marshall Halfstack and 4 guitars, and no mechanical issues what-so-ever… I’d like to see if you could find a more satisfied owner of any car.

  • avatar
    PbFoot

    What most of you don’t know is that there is a small group of loyal Grand Prix owners out there that know what this car is really capable of.  The supercharged version of the 3.8 is a very fast car.  I clocked my 2000 grand prix gtp at 14.5 seconds in the quater mile.  That beat my brothers 1969 grand prix that was equipped with a big V8 muscle car engine.  With some slight garage mods, many of these 3.8 engines were tuned to run in the low 12′s.  If your front tires are slightly worn on this car, you can spin the rubber right down to the rims when launching from slow speed.  Night / day difference between the normally aspirated and supercharged version.  In terms of it’s appearance vs speed – it was a “sleeper”.  

    • 0 avatar
      parkita

      I love my 2006 supercharged Grand Prix GT.  I bought a 2009 G6 and it was so cheap feeling I took it back and bought this older Grand Prix.  It has 260 hp and an awesome 9 speaker Monsoon stereo.  It drives so smoothly, and has great control on slippery roads.  I can not stand cars that won’t take off at a stop light, not a problem here because I am way out ahead of the average car that still back the light. Yes they are big, and I think that is why they may not feel as fast….luckily mine has the Heads Up Display on the windsheild to remind me that I am speeding. 

  • avatar
    28-cars-later

    I agree with Corey, I specifically sought out this car at the auction because it has the boring but durable 3800/4spd auto. While some of what the author comments on is true, the true value of the Grand Prix is more than you may give it credit. I look at alot of the cars being put out today and from a styling perspective they pale in comparison (looking at you Toyota) … to me this was the last Pontiac (save the Solstice) which had any style or flair. I was sorry to see the G8 die because while I think it was a step in the right direction it was ugly as sin.

    • 0 avatar
      wheelindm

      I agree with corey also. I love pontiac. i do think they need to go above and beyond on there new cars tho. Forget the family sedans and make some real sport cars. But i own the grand prix supercharged version. I have my eyes on old pontiacs. The new ones just make me sick to look at they are just melted down versions of other new cars.

  • avatar
    maybe2243

    I own a 2004 Grand prix and I have 215K miles on it. It still does not burn any oil to this day. And I would not trade it for a 2004 anything. With some small tweaks even a non supercharged 3800 can leave a camry V6 in the dust. 3800 motors are the 5th best engine of all time and GM’s best motor ever made….

  • avatar
    maybe2243

    holy cow arian you are one dumb fag.. i own a 2004 GM P GP 3.8 Non supercharged that has smashed Camry v6 and accord V6.. if i ever met you in person i would smash your teeth in for being so dumb in the automotive department. I live in utica ny and would love to for you to see my L26 2004 GM GP 3800 with over 200k miles on it beat your honda or toyota.. Better yet once my GP beats your chink little penis car ill beat your ass. 3153381740 IM SO HUNGRY FOR RICE FAGS…

  • avatar
    daytonbest937

    Is this guy serious lmao. I owned a Buick P. Avenue ultra by far the fastest v6 u could get never had problems only poped my hood to change the oil never had any problems. My girl owns a grandprix gtp and will smoke whatever u pull next to it. Yeah some plastics maybe cheap but the gas pedal get stuck only when u want it to. Camry or accord my ass. They only sale well because there cheaper dependable even but I wouldnt say better

  • avatar
    parkita

    Hey, I am glad we all differ in opinions on cars. I don’t want everybody driving Grand Prixs. I love my grand prix still, I like it on the snow, it handles the best I have ever had. I feel safe, I like that it;s big. it is awesome on a long trip. accelleration? I wouldn’t want any more then I have cause I would hurt myself. I don’t know what the regular ones are like, but supercharged 3.8 works awesome.
    I am glad they made them cause I am a grand prix kinda person. I have tried alot of cars, basically could have had any one I wanted, but I fell in love with my black on black car.


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