Do-it-yourselfers will applaud the arrival of a five-speed manual transmission as standard equipment with the Grand Am's four-cylinder engine. When a redesigned Grand Am went on sale for 1999, a four-speed automatic was the only transmission offered.
The Grand Am comes in four-door sedan and two-door coupe body styles and is built from the same design as the Oldsmobile Alero. The two share engines and their front-drive chassis but have different styling and interior features.
A low nose and high tail give the aggressively styled Grand Am a pronounced wedge profile. The ribbed lower body cladding and a twin-port grille are traditional Pontiac styling cues.
Both coupe and sedan ride a 107-inch wheelbase and measure 186 inches front to rear. The overall length is a couple of inches less than the best selling midsize cars, the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord, and about a foot shorter than the Ford Taurus.
Pontiac says all models seat five, but the coupe's narrower rear seat is better suited for two people than three. Front buckets are standard across the board. All models except the base SE have a split, folding rear seatback that supplements the 14.6-cubic-foot trunk.
Whereas the similar Alero has a simple, functional dashboard, the Grand Am's looks cluttered and has small audio controls that are hard to use while driving.
Under the Hood
The base 2.4-liter four-cylinder produces 150 horsepower and now teams with either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission. V-6 models come with a 3.4-liter engine that generates 170 horsepower and are paired with automatic transmission.
Anti-lock brakes and traction control are standard on all Grand Ams.