2008 Pontiac G6

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2005 Pontiac G6

This 2005 review is representative of model years 2005 to 2009.
By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
Rating: 7

Bottom Line:

Nicely redone model is big improvement over aged Grand Am predecessor.
Pros:
  • Nice new design
  • Roomy
  • Smooth ride and lively acceleration
Cons:
  • High trunk liftover
  • Occasional bouncy ride
  • Rough interior trunk lid

The new Pontiac G6, which is being phased in as a replacement for the automaker's aged Grand Am, is designed to revive this automaker's sporty image, which has been slipping since its glory era in the 1960s, when it sold fast, sexy autos such as the GTO muscle car.

Pontiac's new GTO is pretty much a flop because many feel that it has bland styling for such a high-performance car. And the Grand Am sorely lacks the refinement, quality and roominess of rivals; it will be sold only as a coupe to the retail (non-fleet) market in 2005.

The front-wheel-drive G6 is larger, roomier, better looking and more refined than the Grand Am. The new Pontiac initially is offered only as a sedan, but coupe and retractable hardtop convertible models arrive next year, along with a hotter GTP version.

Oprah Publicity
The G6 got lots of national publicity when Pontiac-donated cars were given to the 276 audience members of the Oprah Winfrey September 13 show, although it's an open question if the car will score well in the increasingly competitive sporty car market.

"The Oprah show put the Pontiac name right up front, which is what Pontiac wanted. But I'm not satisfied that it addressed the right audience with the G6 giveaway because that's supposed to be a sporty, performance-oriented car and I hear Oprah's Sept. 13 audience was composed of women who needed economical transportation like the new, less costly Chevrolet Cobalt," said auto analyst Jim Wangers. He should know, being the marketing whiz behind the original GTO and other successful Pontiacs in the 1960s.

The base G6 sedan lists at $20,675, with the top-line GT retailing at $23,300. My test GT had options that bumped its price to $26,965. They included a $1,365 leather package and cleverly designed $1,500 power "panoramic" roof with four sliding glass panels and a power shade. (A regular G6 sunroof costs $700.)

Remote Starting
A popular option may be the $150 remote start system. It starts the G6 up to a 200-foot range, but won't let it be shifted from the transmission's "park" position until the ignition key is inserted. The engine runs for 16 minutes after the remote start is activated, and doesn't allow a second remote start until a fair amount of time passes.

Safety items include optional side- and head-curtain airbags.

Well Equipped
Even the base G6 is well-equipped. Standard are air conditioning, cruise control, a rear defroster, an AM/FM/CD sound system, a tilt-telescoping wheel, split-folding rear seatbacks and power windows, mirrors and door locks, with remote keyless entry.

The GT adds a sport suspension, anti-lock brakes, traction control, power adjustable pedals, premium sound system, rear spoiler, 17-inch (vs. 16-inch) cast aluminum painted wheels with wider 50-series (vs. 60-series) tires and a performance axle ratio for slightly faster acceleration.

Average Engine Design
There's nothing special about the G6 engine—it's a 3.5-liter pushrod V6 with 200 horsepower and lacks the sophistication of overhead camshafts and four valves per cylinder. However, it provides lively acceleration in town and decent performance on highways.

The GTP will have a new 3.9-liter V6 with 240 horsepower. Also offered next year for the G6 will be a new 2.4-liter overhead camshaft 16-valve 4-cylinder engine with 170 horsepower.

The current V6 is hooked to a 4-speed automatic transmission instead of a more modern 5-speed unit. But it's responsive and has an easily used manual shift feature in the GT.

Estimated fuel economy is 21 mpg in the city and 29 on the highway.

Midsize Status
The Grand Am is a compact car, but the G6's fairly long 112.3-inch wheelbase provides it with midsize car status, although overall length is a fairly handy 189 inches.

The wheelbase helps allow a smooth ride, good interior room for four tall adults and wide door openings—not to mention permitting rear door glass to roll down all the way and the panoramic roof; three of that roof's four panels slide rearward, creating a sunroof large enough for rear-seat occupants to have an open-air "almost convertible-like experience," as Pontiac puts it.

Good Roadability
The fast, variable-assist electric power steering feels almost too light at low speeds, but has a firmer feel at highway speeds for good control. The 4-wheel independent suspension soaks up road imperfections, although it occasionally becomes a little bouncy even with the GT's firmer suspension. The brake pedal has a nice feel, and stopping distances are short.

The sporty styling features short front-rear body overhangs, although the G6 doesn't stand out like, say, the new Chrysler 300 sedan.

The G6 uses General Motor's new European-designed Epsilon "architecture" for body stiffness, which enhances ride and handling.

Improved Interior
The interior of the G6 is a big improvement over the Grand Am's overstyled, cheesy interior. The G6 has such features as easily read gauges, supportive front seats and a dashboard ignition switch that eliminates the need to grope for a switch on the steering column.

Climate and sound system controls are large, and dashboard vents swivel with a precision feel that shows attention to detail that long has been lacking in many GM auto interiors. Cupholders are conveniently located, as are most controls.

Roomy Trunk
The trunk is roomy, although its rather high liftover won't be liked when, for instance, rapidly loading or unloading suitcases at airport terminals. Also, the interior of the trunk lid has a rough, unfinished look because it lacks even a cheap cover. Rear seatbacks with trunk-mounted release controls flip forward to enlarge the cargo area.

Pontiac said it used a "clean sheet" approach to designing the G6, which should attract far more buyers than the Grand Am.

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BB03 - 7/29/2014 6:03:08 AM