decades now the Pontiac brand from General
Motors has favored racy cars with sporty
styling and muscular powerplants in
a collection tagged with legendary nameplates
like Bonneville, Grand Am and Grand
Prix. That tilt toward sporty design
intensifies this year as Pontiac brings
back another fabled nameplate with the
for a late arrival, the new interpretation
of Pontiac's muscle car consists of
a two-door coupe design with a Corvette
engine aboard pumping up to 340 hp.
The Pontiac lineup for 2004 also includes
revamped versions of the mid-size Grand
Prix series of sedans.
Bonneville sedan gets a new GXP edition
with powerful V8 aboard, while best-selling
Grand Am in coupe and sedan variations
displays keen new styling points fore
and aft plus larger wheels and tires.
the sporty Pontiac subcompact, appears
strictly as a coupe with a fuel-efficient
EcoTec engine, and Pontiac's Montana
minivan comes in regular and stretched
wheelbases with optional Versatrak all-wheel-drive
The Vibe, sport wagon, brings agile
road manners like a small four-door
sports sedan plus the cargo capability
of a SUV and the miserly fuel efficiency
and attractive price points of an economy
Aztek sport-recreation vehicle returns
with a Rally Edition dropped in the
suspension up front and the boxy body
dipped in Fusion Orange Metallic paint.
Pontiac's original GTO led the muscle-car
craze in the Sixties and ultimately
accounted for more than half a million
units sold. A new GTO, scheduled for
production late in 2003, borrows the
shapely two-door body of a rear-wheel-drive
(RWD) Monaro coupe built by Holden,
a GM subsidiary in Australia.
it's spiked with a 5.7-liter V8 Corvette
engine cranked to 340 hp, plus 'Vette
transmissions from a heavy-duty four-speed
automatic or close-ratio manual six-speed.
Expect mechanical gear oriented for
performance with a limited slip differential,
four-wheel disc brakes with anti-lock
brake system (ABS) and traction controller
2+2 cockpit shows bolstered buckets
in color-coordinated leather, a steering
wheel in satin-finish chrome, plus metal
pedals and a premium sound system with
ten speakers and six-disc CD switcher.
Revamping Pontiac's mid-size sedan amounts
to a complete make-over that goes further
than previous generations and transforms
the car into a stylish and fun-to-drive
vehicle that's also practical and easy
There's no two-door coupe edition with
the new design, although a pair of back
doors on the sedan blends discreetly
into the sleek flanks and merges into
a fastback roofline so this new Pontiac
looks more like a smooth coupe than
simply another family-oriented sedan.
It doesn't act like a conventional sedan,
either, thanks to innovative features
for a flexible cabin design and the
performance posture of a sport-tuned
trim designations with different powertrains
are GT and GTP, but the latter also
offers a Competition Group (Comp G)
package with suspension tweaking and
sporty paraphernalia. The GT draws from
GM's 3.8-liter V6 racked to 200 hp.
The GTP goes further through supercharging
to pump the action to 260 hp. GTP's
Comp G kit includes StabiliTrak Sport,
a four-wheel vehicle stability system
that enhances tire traction during cornering
two thumb-sized paddles - labeled TAPshift
for Touch Activated Power - are mounted
on right and left spokes of the steering
wheel. A shift-it-yourself kind of driver
can use the thumb and forefinger to
move the paddles forward or backward
and step up or down the powertrain's
gear ladder in the same way race drivers
control their open-wheel machines with
finger-flicking upshifts and downshifts.
our Review: Pontiac
For 2004 Pontiac casts the full-size
flagship sedan in the models SE and
SLE plus new GXP.
late, the GXP stocks a performance powertrain
and special exterior adornments like
curvy fascia, unique shapes for headlamps
and taillamps, big exhaust pipes at
the tail and a spoiler.
The engine, a 4.6-liter NorthStar V8
with dual cams, delivers 275 hp through
a four-speed Hydra-Matic 4T80-E automatic
transaxle with electronic controls.
Bonneville SE and SLE draw from a 3.8-liter
V6 plant that makes 205 hp.
for GXP contains rich appointments like
suede inserts on the leather seats and
a shifter handle in brushed aluminum.
Rigged as either a two-door coupe or
four-door sedan, the compact-class Grand
Am looks sleek and clean with smooth
fascia fore and aft and wheels that
fill up the fender wells so it seems
to hunker on the pavement.
show trims of SE, SE1 and SE2, plus
GT and GT1. Coupes come strictly in
GT and GT1 editions and SC/T performance
appearance package. Grand AM SE and
SE1 tote the GM EcoTec twin-cam 2.2-liter
four-pack engine rated at 140 hp.
SE2 sedan draws from a 3.4-liter V6
engine good for 170 hp. GT coupe and
sedan cap the series with the V6 linked
to Ram Air cold-air induction and a
low-restriction exhaust, enhancements
that kick the output to 175 hp. The
coupe's SC/T package adds a composite
performance hood and aero wing spoiler.
Pontiac's subcompact shapes up as a
two-door coupe in one trim but with
three equipment packages. All variations
stock the EcoTec 2.2-liter in-line-four
engine with 140 hp. A five-speed Getrag
manual goes on the first package, but
a four-speed automatic Hydra-Matic 4T45-E
works with the other two.
styling includes cat-eye headlamps flanking
a dual-port grille and integrated foglamps
in the fascia. Options this year range
from the subscription-based XM satellite
radio service to OnStar communications
and security service and a 200-watt
Monsoon audio package with eight speakers
and a CD deck capable of playing MP3
format files. (CONTINUED...)
Orange is the latest body color for
Vibe, Pontiac's crossover wagon for
the subcompact class. Exterior styling
looks aggressive, with muscular lines
spread across a broad structure where
wheels push to perimeters and the body
hugs the ground.
structure is tall, which accommodates
seats that rise high like chairs and
creates voluminous space for people
and equipment. A track system in the
floor of the cargo bay adapts with various
accessory kits to mount sports equipment
like a mountain bike or snowboard.
price-leading base Vibe and Vibe AWD
feature either FWD or AWD format and
an economical four-cylinder engine that
hits 130 hp. Vibe GT with FWD skews
toward the sporty side with a high-performance
180 hp engine tied to a six-speed manual
base model also offers a boost by supercharging
through a new SPO (Service and Parts
Operations) kit that can be installed
at a Pontiac dealer. Expect to gain
about 35 percent in horsepower and torque
with the supercharger aboard.
Pontiac tags Aztek as a sport-recreation
vehicle and casts it as a multi-purpose
machine to accommodate active lifestyles
with room aboard for hauling recreational
new Rally Edition sparks up the series
with a look-at-me paint job in Fusion
Orange, Black or Silver Metallic. It
rolls on 17-inch chrome wheels, has
the front suspension dropped and the
front grille matching body color. In
the cabin, the Rally Edition brings
power controls to the driver's seat
with optional leather and special audio
speakers in the cargo compartment with
separate radio controls.
stocks standard FWD traction or the
AWD Versatrak system. It detects tire
rotational differences between front
and rear wheels during low-traction
conditions, then directs power to either
or both rear wheels momentarily before
actual tire slippage occurs at the front
wheels. Power is supplied from a 3.4-liter
V6 that produces 185 hp with a four-speed
Hydra-Matic 4T65-E automatic transaxle.
Regular and stretched wheelbases work
with Pontiac's minivan. Versatrak AWD
traction is optional on the stretched
edition, along with MontanaVision, a
DVD-based video entertainment system.
Special Value model adopts a no-frills
approach in a cabin layout that has
seven seats with an integrated child's
seat, plus standards like air conditioning
and cruise control, power locks for
all doors and a stereo package with
in-dash CD deck.
the Thunder Sport continues on the extended-wheelbase
Montana with tail spoiler, 16-inch chrome
wheels, four-wheel independent suspension
and self-leveling rear shocks, plus
seats covered in dual-tone leather. (...BACK)
INFORMATION FROM PONTIAC]