Long known for its familiar WideTrack stance, Pontiacs full-size front-drive coupe and sedan still come in the SE trim with a 3.1-liter V-6 engine and as a GT with a 3.8-liter V-6. The hottest of the lot is the GTP, which packs a supercharged 3.8-liter that cranks out 240 horsepower. General Motors OnStar communication system is a factory-installed option on the GT and a standard feature on the GTP.
A 40th Anniversary option package is newly available for the GT and GTP coupe and sedan. For 2002, the GT gains a six-way power drivers seat, trunk cargo net, theft-deterrent system, CD player and power locks. Cruise control is now standard on the SE sedan, which also gets a remote trunk release.
Grand Prix models are built with the basic architecture of the Buick Century and Regal, Chevrolet Impala and Monte Carlo, and Oldsmobile Intrigue. But the styling differs significantly, as Pontiac maintains its reputation as the sportiest member of the GM family. A restyling of the Grand Prix is likely in the next year or so, because the last revamp took place for the 1997 model year. The Grand Prix badge has a long history, which dates back to 1962.
Although the Grand Prix is typically considered a midsize model, cars.com includes it among full-size cars along with the larger Pontiac Bonneville because it has a wheelbase longer than 110 inches. The Grand Prixs distance between the centers of the front and rear wheels is 110.5 inches, to be exact, and its overall length measures 197.5 inches. Thats about 5 inches shorter than the Bonneville but in the same league as several full-size luxury sedans, including the Acura 3.5 RL and Lexus LS 430. All Grand Prix models are 72.7 inches wide and stand 54.7 inches tall.
The Grand Prix is unique among full-size models because it comes as either a two-door coupe or four-door sedan. No other model gives buyers a choice, and only a handful of two-door full-size models are marketed. Except for the back doors and rear quarter panels, curvaceous styling and sporty details are the same on both Grand Prix body styles.
Despite being shorter than the Bonneville, the Grand Prix is spacious enough for five occupants. GMs OnStar system is a factory-installed option in the GT and a standard feature in the GTP. The deep trunk holds 16 cubic feet of cargo.
Under the Hood
With the Grand Prix, you get to choose from a mild to a sizzling powertrain. The lowest-priced SE model uses a 3.1-liter V-6 engine that generates 175 hp. Stepping up a notch, a 200-hp, 3.8-liter V-6 goes into the GT and is optional in SE models. The GTP model sizzles because it is equipped with a supercharged version of the 3.8-liter V-6 that cranks out 240 horses. All engines work with a four-speed-automatic transmission. Antilock brakes and traction control are standard, and side-impact airbags are not available.
Although the Grand Prix has many appealing features, it cant quite compare to European and most Asian models in terms of solidity. The Grand Prix is better built than it used to be, and like various current domestic models, it simply lacks the sense of tight construction thats become commonplace among import brands.
That objection aside, the Grand Prix performs energetically with its bigger 3.8-liter V-6 engine, especially if it happens to be the supercharged version. But when passing at highway speeds, theres not as much kick. Theres little evidence that the supercharger has taken root.
Although the GTPs suspension eases over quite a few road flaws, it gives the impression that it is avoiding them rather than absorbing them; the result is a ride thats adequate but not inspiring. Its handling skills are a plus, which promise the capability of precise and confident maneuvers, but considering the hottest Grand Prixs sporty nature, this model isnt that much greater than some of its rivals.
Headroom is ample in each seating position, but a power sunroof steals some space up front. Backseat legroom in the coupe version is adequate, even when the front seats are as far back as they go; this is hardly the case among all competitors. Following a Pontiac tradition, the dashboard is loaded with gauges and readouts that light up in orange at night.