2008 Pontiac Torrent

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2006 Pontiac Torrent

This 2006 review is representative of model years 2006 to 2009.
By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
Rating: 7

Bottom Line:

GM's "excitement division" offers its first SUV, which is decent but not very exciting.
Pros:
  • Car-like
  • Roomy
  • Available all-wheel drive
Cons:
  • Average performance
  • Average fuel economy
  • Power window controls on console

Pontiac still is General Motors' "excitement division," with such autos as its GTO muscle car and new Solstice sports car. But Pontiac's first sport-utility vehicle—the 2006 Torrent—registers low on the excitement scale.

For sure, the Torrent is decent enough and is offered to prevent defections from Pontiac to SUVs from competitors. Even Porsche, which only built sports cars, introduced its Cayenne SUV for that reason in 2003, and that vehicle is accounting for a large chunk of Porsche sales—and profits—in America.

The Torrent looks sporty enough for a roomy SUV, although it can't match the appearance of something like the Infiniti FX sport-utility vehicle, which emphasizes sport over utility.

Shares Chevrolet Components
While the Torrent has Pontiac's signature "twin port grilles," flared fenders and a "sport-tuned" suspension, it can't be very exciting because it shares its car-like platform and drivetrain with the popular Chevrolet Equinox midsize SUV, which is mostly known for user-friendliness.

At least the Torrent looks sportier than the Equinox, although it can't match the acceleration or handling of sporty SUVS such as the admittedly more costly FX or BMW X5.

That's not to say that this new Pontiac doesn't steer, handle, ride or brake well during routine driving. It just leaves drivers looking for more than a little sportiness out in the cold.

Available All-Wheel Drive
The Torrent is sold with front-wheel drive for $22,400 and with all-wheel drive for $24,300. The front-wheel-drive version has traction control and anti-lock brakes, while the all-wheel-drive version only has anti-lock brakes because Pontiac feels that its drive system eliminates the need for traction control.

Call the Torrent's 3.4-liter 185-horsepower V6 as reliable as sunrise, but also call this pushrod engine a yawner. It won't let anyone run over a Torrent, but acceleration is average.

At least the V6 works with a modern 5-speed automatic transmission, instead of a 4-speed unit. The extra gear helps extract better acceleration and a little more fuel economy from the generally smooth engine.

Average Fuel Economy
However, estimated economy is average for a midsize SUV: 19 in the city and 24 on highways with front-wheel drive and 18 and 23 with all-wheel drive, which adds 116 pounds to the front-wheel-drive version's 3,660 -pound weight.

High points of the Torrent include a reclining and sliding split-folding rear seat with about 8 inches of fore-aft travel. That increases legroom in the already roomy rear seat area or cargo space behind the back seat when it's in its normal, upright position.

Long Load Area
Rear seatbacks should fold more to allow a flat cargo floor, but the front passenger seatback folds to create a long load area that stretches to the instrument panel. Integrated storage areas accommodate such items as sunglasses, coins, CDs, coffee cups and water bottles.

The low, wide cargo area has an available Cargo Storage System with storage bins in the floor and wheelwells, besides a plastic shelf that can be put in various positions for differing cargo needs. It has hooks for grocery bags and can be configured as a table for tailgate parties. Three 12-volt power outlets are standard.

Fairly Well Equipped
Also standard is a fair amount of equipment. It includes air conditioning, a tilt steering wheel, an AM/FM stereo with a CD player and 6 speakers, power windows and door locks with remote keyless entry and a defogger/washer/wiper for the rear hatch window.

Comfort and convenience options include a power sunroof, leather-trimmed seats and steering wheel, power driver's seat, heated front seats, 17-inch aluminum wheels (up from standard 16-inchers), a CD/MP3 stereo, a steering wheel radio controls, GM's OnStar assistance feature and a XM satellite radio.

Safety options include side-curtain airbags.

The Torrent is billed as a 5-passenger SUV, but there's only comfortable space for four occupants because two individual seats are up front and the center of the rear seat is too hard for comfort.

Inviting Interior
It's easy to get in or out of the quiet, inviting, sporty looking interior, thanks to a low floor and wide door openings. Gauges have Pontiac's signature red backlighting and large climate controls are easy to operate. However, sound system controls are small. And the power window switches feel out of place on the front console instead of on doors, where they're located in most vehicles.

While only marginally sporty, the Torrent is among the most pleasant, handy midsize sport-utility vehicles. And a wilder version may be introduced in the not-distant future because Pontiac plans to further emphasize its "excitement" image.

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BB01 - 7/29/2014 5:53:24 AM