Rare Rides: Grand Prix's V8 Finale, the GXP From 2005

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
rare rides grand prix s v8 finale the gxp from 2005

The Pontiac Grand Prix was a long-term staple in Pontiac’s lineup, a Driving Excitement alternative to the Buick and Chevrolet cars with which it shared its various platforms. Though it faded from its initial personal luxury prominence, Grand Prix had one final V8 hurrah at the end of its life. It was a sort of return to form after many years with a maximum of six cylinders. Let’s check out some GXP goodness.

The Grand Prix started out in the early Sixties as a rear-drive two-door personal luxury car of the sporty variety and continued in that mode through the mid-Eighties. At its new fifth-generation, the Grand Prix switched over to front-drive (as so much of the American automotive landscape did), and grew a four-door sedan body style for the first time. It also lost a couple of cylinders, as its largest engine became a 3.4-liter V6. Grand Prix continued through its sixth generation before reinventing itself one last time: a final seventh-gen model that would see it through the Great Recession, and nearly to the end of Pontiac as a marque.

In 2004 the new Grand Prix debuted on an updated third-gen version of GM’s long-running W-body platform. For the first time ever, Grand Prix stepped away from its roots and was available only as a sedan. It grew to a long 198.3 inches overall and was either a small full-size or a large midsize, however, you’d like to classify it. On a platform with the Chevrolet Impala and Buick LaCrosse, it was a couple of inches shorter than Impala and marginally longer than LaCrosse. The new Grand Prix represented a welcome step away from the cladding era that Pontiac enjoyed for over a decade prior, and its styling was praised as fresh and distinctive.

In its first model year, all Grand Prix were powered by the blessed Buick 3800 Series III V6, in naturally aspirated L26 guise (200 HP) or as supercharged L32 (260 HP). The sportiest initial trim was the GTP, which was the only one to receive the supercharged engine. All Grand Prix used the same four-speed automatic, as manual transmissions were not of interest to the majority of the 2000s buying public.

During the latter portion of the 2005 model year, the GXP arrived in the Grand Prix lineup. GXP heralded the return of a V8 to the Grand Prix – a feature absent since 1988. The engine in question was the 5.3-liter LS4, an engine based on the Corvette LS1. Good for 303 horses, the 5.3 was shrunken and compacted in various ways to allow fitment into the front-drive W-body platform. The engine was not available in any other vehicle in 2005, but in 2006 made its way to the Impala SS and Monte Carlo SS. And for 2008-2009 it was also available in the LaCrosse Super.

GXP came standard with paddle shifters, a heads-up display, and a performance suspension complete with a .4-inch lower ride height over other Grand Prix trims. StabiliTrak ride control kept things in check on the move. Outside, the GXP was identified with sharper trim on all sides, a revised and more angular front clip, a faux fender vent, dual exhaust, and a different bumper. Chromed alcoa wheels were another GXP exclusive.

But much like the torque steer of a front-drive V8, by the mid-2000s General Motors was out of control financially. GM posted a loss of $10.5 billion in 2005. The upcoming recession sealed GM’s fate and took with it, Pontiac. Grand Prix was canceled after the 2008 model year; its successor technically the G8. But that rear-drive Australian lasted just two years. Pontiac closed out 2010 with three run-off offerings, only one of which was actually a Pontiac. On offer were the G2 (Daewoo Matiz), G6, and Vibe (Toyota Matrix).

The GXP is largely forgotten today, a remnant of General Motors from the moments before its bankruptcy and reorganization. It was the sort of car not many asked for: A torquey transverse V8 paired with front-drive and a fairly appalling interior. Its few customers paid quite a premium for the V8 – $29,335 – just over $42,000 adjusted for inflation. Today’s Rare Ride GXP asks much less at $10,995. It’s traveled just 66,900 miles and has a clean ownership history.

[Images: GM]

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  • Tmvette454 Tmvette454 on Oct 31, 2021

    I special ordered one of these in 2006, loved the way it drove but the seats were unbearable. Can't beat the sound of the V-8 though

  • JBlast JBlast on Apr 24, 2022

    I own a 2006 version. The exterior pics in the article may be a GXP, but the interior pics are not. I believe the GXPs all have the Pontiac logo badge on the ateering wheel, too. Where are the tap shifters on the steering wheel? The HUD is also not visible on the top of the dash. This car(the 2006 version) is as good as, or better than any other domestic mid-sized sedan of the day. I bought mine used 6 years ago. It was taken care of mechanically by the previous owner and I have kept up with regular maintenence. This car is only dumpy to the nose-in-the-air enthusiasts who will never be satisfied with any car. The different sized tires is not that big of a deal. The wider front tires don't cost more than the rears. The car is no supercar, but it does handle remarkably well around town. It will beat alot of newer vehicles off the line and at least to the 60ft line. I just bought a 2019 Impala Premier. 3.6 V6 engine with 305hp and 6-speed auto. 2 more hp than my 06 GXP with V8 and 4 speed tranny. However, the Impala will never beat the GXP off the line. The Impala only really flexes its muscle above 45-50mph. By that time, the GXP is disappearing into the distance. Did I mention the GXP has just over 174k miles on it? Also, I previously owned a 2000 Impala with the Series II 3800. Changed out the Dexcool crap right away. It had normal issues(MAP sensor, intake gasket, etc.). Even broke a rod once. Kept it running and it finally gave up the ghost after 16 years and over 300k miles. The 3800s are very durable motors, as well as the LS4s. P.S. The newer Impala has a Bose sound system. The GXP has the Monsoon system with an aftermarket JVC stereo. The Monsoon by far kicks the ass of the Bose. Just sayin'...

  • ToolGuy CXXVIII comments?!?
  • ToolGuy I did truck things with my truck this past week, twenty-odd miles from home (farther than usual). Recall that the interior bed space of my (modified) truck is 98" x 74". On the ride home yesterday the bed carried a 20 foot extension ladder (10 feet long, flagged 14 inches past the rear bumper), two other ladders, a smallish air compressor, a largish shop vac, three large bins, some materials, some scrap, and a slew of tool cases/bags. It was pretty full, is what I'm saying.The range of the Cybertruck would have been just fine. Nothing I carried had any substantial weight to it, in truck terms. The frunk would have been extremely useful (lock the tool cases there, out of the way of the Bed Stuff, away from prying eyes and grasping fingers -- you say I can charge my cordless tools there? bonus). Stainless steel plus no paint is a plus.Apparently the Cybertruck bed will be 78" long (but over 96" with the tailgate folded down) and 60-65" wide. And then Tesla promises "100 cubic feet of exterior, lockable storage — including the under-bed, frunk and sail pillars." Underbed storage requires the bed to be clear of other stuff, but bottom line everything would have fit, especially when we consider the second row of seats (tools and some materials out of the weather).Some days I was hauling mostly air on one leg of the trip. There were several store runs involved, some for 8-foot stock. One day I bummed a ride in a Roush Mustang. Three separate times other drivers tried to run into my truck (stainless steel panels, yes please). The fuel savings would be large enough for me to notice and to care.TL;DR: This truck would work for me, as a truck. Sample size = 1.
  • Art Vandelay Dodge should bring this back. They could sell it as the classic classic classic model
  • Surferjoe Still have a 2013 RDX, naturally aspirated V6, just can't get behind a 4 banger turbo.Also gloriously absent, ESS, lane departure warnings, etc.
  • ToolGuy Is it a genuine Top Hand? Oh, I forgot, I don't care. 🙂