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By Jim Flammang
August 3, 2005
Vehicle Overview Pontiac revamped its midsize front-wheel-drive Grand Prix sedan for 2004. Now in its ninth generation, the Grand Prix has styling overtones that are related to the automaker's newer GTO.
In 2005, the Grand Prix sedan came in base, GT and GTP trim levels. A Competition Group (Comp G) handling package was also available. A GXP sedan with a 5.3-liter V-8 engine debuted during the 2005 model year. For 2006, the GTP trim level and the Comp G package have been dropped.
For 2006, a new Special Edition model debuts that features ground-effects body components, a body-colored grille and new 17-inch wheels. Mini-perforated leather is newly available on the steering wheel and seat inserts for all models.
General Motors' OnStar communication system is standard. A TAPshift (Touch Activated Power) system lets the driver of a GXP sedan use paddles on the steering wheel to change gears in the automatic transmission.
Exterior The Grand Prix's smooth sides are said to be Coke-bottle shaped, a theme that harks back to the muscle-car era. They extend into twin-port grilles with a two-tone lower fascia. Large corner-mounted taillights flank the rear spoiler.
Built on a 110.5-inch wheelbase, the Grand Prix extends to 198.3 inches long overall. Fog lamps are standard on GT and GXP models. Standard wheels measure 16 inches in diameter, but 17-inchers are optional; the GXP gets 18-inch tires.
Interior Each Grand Prix is spacious enough for five adults. The deep trunk holds 16 cubic feet of cargo, and a pass-thru in the 60/40-split, folding backseat is installed.
Sizable analog gauges have a 3-D look, and the doors display satin-nickel accents. Pontiac's optional head-up display (standard in the GXP) allows the driver to extinguish all instrument panel lighting for enhanced visibility during night driving.
Under the Hood A 200-horsepower, 3.8-liter V-6 is standard in the base sedan. The GT sedan is equipped with a supercharged version that develops 260 hp. In the GXP sedan, a 5.3-liter V-8 generates 303 hp at 5,600 rpm and 323 pounds-feet of torque at 4,400 rpm. All engines team with a four-speed-automatic transmission.
Safety Antilock brakes are standard on the GT and GXP models and optional on the base sedan. Side curtain-type airbags are optional.
Driving Impressions Even though the Grand Prix has many appealing features, it doesn't quite compare to European and most Asian models in solidity. The Grand Prix, especially with supercharged power, performs energetically. Promising strong passing power, it accelerates from a standstill with vigor, but there's little evidence of supercharger action. Pontiac's paddle shifters work well but may suffer a little delay.
The Grand Prix's suspension eases over most road flaws, but it gives the impression of avoiding rather than absorbing them. Handling skills are a bonus with the upper models without major loss in ride comfort. Headroom is ample in each seating position, but the optional power sunroof steals some space.