1996 Pontiac Grand Am

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starting MSRP

1996 Pontiac Grand Am

Key specs

Base trim shown


2 trims

Starting msrp listed lowest to highest price

  • SE


  • GT


Wondering which trim is right for you?

Our 1996 Pontiac Grand Am trim comparison will help you decide.

1996 Pontiac Grand Am review: Our expert's take


The verdict:

Versus the competiton:

For 1996, Pontiac offers a mea culpa, though most folks simply call it the Grand Am.

Grand Am has been Pontiac’s best-selling model, thanks to sporty looks and a respectable price tag.

But Grand Am had some warts–a seat-belt system attached to the door ratherthan the pillar that made it awkward and an air bag only in the driver’s steering-wheel hub and none in the dash to serve the passenger.

For 1996 the belts are anchored to the door pillar, not the door; dual air bags and anti-lock brakes are standard; the optional 3.1-liter, 155-h.p., V-6 is spirited (and so you notice, the exhaust provides muffled rumble sound effects) yet able to nurse a gallon of fuel for 21 miles in the city, 29 mileson the highway; the optional 4-speed automatic comes packaged with traction assist; the power steering system and choice of 16-inch radials allow for nimble maneuvering; the GT’s ride-and-handling suspension holds you smoothly to the road; and the safety and performance package is wrapped in sporty duds that set the car apart from your typical economy compact.

Grand Am offers a comfortable and roomy cabin and ample cargo capacity in the trunk. But whoever designed that storage bin under the dash has a weird sense of humor: there’s room for coins or gum, but not your hand to get the coins or gum out.

The GT coupe we tested starts at $15,499 and includes such items as air conditioning and programmable (lock in drive, unlock or stay locked in park) power-door locks.

Add $795 for 4-speed automatic with traction assist; $395 for the 3.1-liter, V-6; $405 for AM/FM stereo with cassette and compact-disc player; $125 for radio controls in the steering wheel; $645 for the sport interior package with leather seats and sun-visor extensions; and $1,313 for the power goodies package–steering/windows/mirrors plus rear window defogger, split folding rear seats, remote keyless entry and cruise control. Even with $500 for freight, the total is less than $20,000.

And in conjunction with graduation season, Pontiac is offering $500 cash rebates on a purchase or up to a $1,500 incentive on a 36-month lease.

First review: 10/8/95
Pontiac listened well to what the 2.2 million folks who bought a Grand Amsince it appeared in 1985 had to say about improvements they want.

For 1996 the Grand Am adds dual air bags, the most sought-after feature ina car that had been limited to a driver-side cushion. It also removed the seatbelt in the door (because of owner complaints) and positioned it in the roofpillar. It dumped the 3-speed automatic in favor of a 4-speed, and the2.3-liter, 16-valve, Quad Four 4-cylinder has been replaced by a 2.4-liter,16-valve, twin cam 4-cylinder that develops the same 150 h.p. but with farless noise than the Quad Four.

But don’t expect the 2.4 to whisper. The decibels still need to be muffleda bit.

Our engine choice fo r the Grand Am remains the 3.1-liter, 160-h.p., V-6 forthe best combination of off-the-line performance and quiet operation.

On the negative side, Pontiac did a cosmetic touchup front, rear and sides.The grille still is split, but the honeycomb insets have been replaced by aseries of horizontal bars. The honeycomb insets were very sporty, thehorizontal bars are very sedate. If folks wanted sedate, they’d opt for aBuick.

For the first time, you can get traction assist when you order the2.4-liter 4 or 3.1-liter V-6 with 4-speed automatic transmission. With dualair bags, four-wheel ABS and now traction assist, Pontiac’s (and GM’s)best-selling individual nameplate should attract even more buyers for 1996.

Also, new darker seat and carpet colors help hide interior dirt better thanthe lighter shades, such as beige, used in the past. And if you liked thelooks of the cross-laced wheels on the 1995 Grand Am GT, you’ll be happy toknow you can get the same design on he SE for 1996. They’d look better with ahoneycomb grille.

Grand Am also features daytime running lamps (high beams at one-half normalintensity) that automatically switch to regular low-beam lamps if needed whileyou are driving.

And we’d be remiss not to mention that front-seat cupholders now haverecessed bottoms to better hold cans and rear-seat holders are available thathold cups, cans or juice boxes.

Grand Am comes with 14-inch tires as standard. For improved ride andhandling, opt for the 15-inch touring tires. For optimum ride and handling andmore sure-footedness in corners, get the 16-inch tires.

Base price of the SE we tested is $13,499, which is the same for coupe orsedan.

Consumer reviews

Rating breakdown (out of 5):
  • Comfort 3.1
  • Interior design 3.2
  • Performance 3.3
  • Value for the money 3.0
  • Exterior styling 3.4
  • Reliability 3.0

Most recent consumer reviews


lots of repairs

I bought this when on sale + red tag sale in 2002, ever since than I've spent more on repairs than the car is worth...every few years the driver window gets off track when rolling up...A/C isn't cold enough after me being outside for hours outside during summer, I've had the car in for this and the A/C would blow ice to real cold air for only 2 or 3 days...the car takes about 5 mins to warm up to use the heater during winter...i've had to replace the alternator 3 times since I had the car...i've had to replace the engine cause of the head gasket...i've had to also replace the instrument panel 3 times...the driver door squeaks when opening/closing...the glue holding the felts on the door panels have lost their hold years ago...i've also replaced the battery I'm not sure how many times........spent more on this car than it's worth (past, present and future)


Most reliable car

A grand am was my first car and i love it. When I am going 50 it makes me feel like I am actually going 50mph unlike some of these newer cars. I have not had to fix much on this car except little things like a window motor. I love this car.


A Red 96 4cyl.

It was a great car for the first 7months it was strong good on gas and the inside was ok i bought it when it was just under 60,000mil. But once things started to break down it was one thing after an other and it was a domino affect.

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