2006 Pontiac Torrent
This 2006 review is representative of model years 2006 to 2009.
By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.