Pontiac’s full-size front-wheel-drive sedan was last redesigned for the 2000 model year and received a face-lift for 2002. The supercharged SSEi edition was dropped from the 2004 lineup. A 205-horsepower, 3.8-liter V-6 powers the SE and SLE models.
A new GXP model powered by a 275-hp Northstar V-8 was introduced in early 2004. Fitted with a performance-tuned fully independent suspension, the GXP rides on 18-inch performance tires. The GXP also has General Motors’ StabiliTrak electronic stability system and leather-appointed seats.
For 2005, the SLE gains styling cues borrowed from the GXP, including its lower-body treatment. The standard OnStar communication system gains improved hands-free capability.
Bold styling identifies a Pontiac model among the crowd, and the Bonneville is no exception. Its design touches include a wedge profile, a sporty-looking twin-port grille and cat-eye headlights. Unique fascias, headlights, taillights and exhaust tips highlight the GXP sedan, which is equipped with a rear spoiler.
Measuring 202.6 inches long overall, the Bonneville is built on a 112.2-inch wheelbase. Cast-aluminum wheels on the SE hold 16-inch tires, while the SLE gets 17-inchers.
Bonnevilles can hold either five or six occupants. SE models are available with front bucket seats or a three-place front bench. Front head restraints move up and forward in a rear-end collision in order to be closer to the occupant’s head. A small pass-thru from the interior to the trunk is present, but the rear seatback doesn’t fold down.
In addition to leather-appointed seats with suede inserts, the GXP sedan gets a brushed-aluminum gearshift handle and carbon-fiber trim. A CD player with Monsoon sound entertains GXP occupants, who also benefit from dual-zone automatic climate control.
The SE and SLE are equipped with a 205-hp, 3.8-liter V-6. The GXP’s 4.6-liter Northstar V-8 produces 275 hp and 300 pounds-feet of torque. Both engines team with a four-speed-automatic transmission.
Antilock brakes are standard on all models. Side-impact airbags are standard in the GXP and optional in other trim levels.
The Bonneville has long been considered a fine road car � among GM’s best, offering plenty of virtues to attract big-car fans. Because the regular V-6 delivers such strong performance, there’s little need for a larger engine. Drivers are likely to feel a welcome burst of acceleration when they push the gas pedal to pass or merge in a hurry. Still, buyers who crave power have the GXP model.
Handling on regular Bonnevilles fails to stand out, but these models steer with a light touch and respond capably to driver inputs and during cornering. In quick curves, body lean is noticeable but not dramatic. The SE rides comfortably most of the time and is very easy to drive. Rear-seat passengers get good legroom, with ample space all around.