The 1995 Pontiac Bonneville is a sports sedan. A performance model for the aggressive driver who prefers leading the pack rather than following it. A nimble machine that slips into and out of the passing lane. A limber vehicle that allows you to accelerate into and out of that exit ramp without body lean or roll and without having to back off on the pedal.
Yet, the Bonneville SE we tested is also a safe vehicle, every bit the equal and even superior to the Volvo 960 sedan in offering optimum security while providing maximum performance.
The SE offers dual air bags and anti-lock brakes and throws in traction control for good measure. And the superior ride and handling means it is more friendly to those who tend to push a car to its limits rather than sit back and settle for the minimum. And when you push, you do so on 16-inch, road-gripping, steel-belted radials.
The seats are wide, soft, yet supportive to keep those who enjoy traveling a winding course as well as the straightaways in position to maintain control.
The suspension keeps you in contact with the road without transmitting the harshness into the seat or wheel. The brakes are firm, stopping is true.
Commute to work during the week, play in the countryside on the weekends. The SE is a two-in-one machine. Lots of words are tossed about to describe a car-performance, safety, economy. With the SE a couple others come to mind-“fun factor.” The SE is loaded with it.
The only drawback is styling-specifically the rear end, which lacks character and appears to be an afterthought. Upfront and along the side the SE is bold, but it’s as if the designers ran out of ideas once they reached the deck lid and taillamps so they rounded it and sloped it and moved on to the next project. We expect more the next design go-round.
The SE’s base is $20,804, or about $9,000 less than the Volvo 960 sedan. Standard equipment includes power brakes and steering, independent front and rear suspension, fog lamps, dual sport mirrors, air conditioning, power windows and door locks, tilt steering, AM/FM stereo with clock, front console cupholder/rear console cupholders/door cupholders, cruise control and rear seat trunk access.
There are a host of options, and our car came with a $3,330 value equipment group that added such things as radio upgrade with cassette and power antenna, power mirrors, power driver’s seat, electric rear window defogger, variable effort power steering, remote keyless entry to name a few. The power sunroof was a stiff $981 and traction control was part of a $775 package that included sport suspension and 16-inch tires.
Options topped $5,200, a significant chunk of added change to bring the SE up to where you’d want it, but still about $4,000 less than the Volvo 960.
>> 1995 Pontiac Bonneville SE sedan Wheelbase: 110.8 inches Length: 199.5 inches Engine: 3.8-liter, 205-h.p., V-6 Transmission: 4-speed automatic Fuel economy: 19 m.p.g. city/29 m.p.g highway. Base price: $20,804 Price as tested: $26,260. Add $3,300 for “value” equipment group: illuminated entry, power remote deck lid release, power mirrors, power driver’s seat, electric rear-window defogger, variable effort power steering, power antenna, lighted vanity mirrors, leather-wrapped steering wheel, remote keyless entry, 16-inch touring tires, rear deck spoiler, leather bucket seats and front/rear seat heat/air ducts; $981 for power sunroof; $775 for computer command ride/handling package with traction control and sport suspension; $250 for radio upgrade with cassette and controls in steering wheel hub; and $150 for automatic air conditioning. Freight runs $585. Pluses: Dual air bags and ABS standa d; traction control available. Superb ride and handling. Excellent performance from the 3.8-liter, V-6 plus good mileage. Wide, supportive seats for aggressive driving. Weak point: All the goodies are optional. Traction control isn’t standard. >>