Vehicle Overview
Pontiac revamped its midsize front-wheel-drive Grand Prix sedan for 2004. The Grand Prix enters the 2008 model year with few changes. Three new exterior colors are now offered, and the midlevel GT trim has been dropped, leaving only two trims: the base Grand Prix and high-performance GXP. The Grand Prix competes in the same segment as the Dodge Charger, Ford Taurus and Nissan Maxima.

General Motors' OnStar communication system is standard, as is a tire pressure monitoring system. A TAPshift (Touch Activated Power) system lets the driver of a GXP sedan use paddles on the steering wheel to change the automatic transmission's gears.


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 a twin-port grille and 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 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 there's a pass-thru in the 60/40-split folding backseat.

Sizable analog gauges have a 3-D look, and the doors display satin-nickel accents. The GXP's standard head-up display 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. Last year's supercharged V-6 engine is no longer offered. 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. The 5.3-liter V-8 uses GM's Active Fuel Management system that shuts downs four cylinders during light-load situations and is claimed to reduce gas consumption by up to 12 percent in certain conditions. All engines drive a four-speed automatic transmission, with the GXP receiving a heavy-duty unit.

Safety
Antilock brakes are standard on GXP models and optional on the base sedan. Side curtain airbags are optional. The GXP has an electronic stability system.

Driving Impressions
Even though the Grand Prix has many appealing features, it doesn't quite compare to European and most Asian models in terms of solidness. It does, however, perform energetically, especially with V-8 power in the GXP. Promising strong passing performance, it accelerates from a standstill with vigor, and the V-8 emits a much throatier, fuller exhaust note than the discontinued supercharged V-6. 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. Good handling without major loss in ride comfort is a bonus with the upper models. Headroom is ample in each seating position, but the optional power sunroof steals some space.