The more we drive the slant-nose General Motors mini-vans, the more we come to like them in terms of ride, handling, room and comfort-even if the ski-slope nose still leaves us a bit cold.
With the addition of the optional 3.8-liter, 170-h.p., V-6 engine and 4-speed automatic last year, the Pontiac Trans Sport solved one of the van’s nagging problems-power to merge and pass.
The 3.8-liter is teamed with a 4-speed automatic transmission and the standard 3.1-liter, 120-h.p., V-6 comes with a 3-speed automatic. The mileage rating is nearly a wash-18 m.p.g. city/23 m.p.g. highway with the 3.1, 17/25 with the more energetic 3.8.
One problem solved.
By adding anti-lock brakes, the people hauler now can stop in a straight line regardless of road conditions without tipping the contents of any of the numerous cupholders well situated throughout the interior.
Two problems down.
But the ’93 Trans Sport we test-drove still is lacking in a few departments. For starters, there’s no driver-side air bag and there won’t be until the 1994 model year. Rather than a protective cushion, you get radio controls in the steering column. At 50 m.p.h., how much solace does seek and scan offer when the vehicle ahead of you stops abruptly?
Another gripe is that the optional power sliding side door ($295) still isn’t available and won’t be until April. That’s the door we experienced at a media preview last summer that requires the driver only to press a button in the overhead roof console to open or close.
That door means neither Mom nor Dad has to run out in the rain or snow to help the tykes get in or out of the van. It also means you don’t have to wait 15 minutes while every member of the scout troop flexes his or her muscles andtries to close the door when you’ve parked on an incline.
And in case a child is in direct line with the door when it’s opening or closing, the door stops before it squeezes some sense . . . er, harms the little one.
Great feature, but again too bad it’s so long in coming out.
One problem soon to be attended to is the slanted nose. There’s minor cosmetic surgery for the 1994 model year to blunt that protruding hood. The big change comes in the 1996 model year, when the mini-van gets new styling and a front end more in keeping with the competition from Dodge and Plymouth.
Base price of the Trans Sport SE we drove is $16,689. Standard equipment includes power brakes and steering, side window defogger, rear window wiper/washer, heat-repelling solar windshield, stainless steel exhaust, dual sport mirrors, AM/FM stereo with clock, intermittent wipers, remote fuel filler door release, dash and seat back cupholders, door map pockets and carpeted floor mats.
Our test vehicle had a value equipment package that added most of the amenities such as power seats/windows/locks, tinted glass, remote keyless entry, air conditioning, power outside mirror s, automatic level control, cruise control, tilt steering, self-sealing tires, upgraded radio with cassette and graphic equalizer and controls in the steering wheel hub and luggage carrier for $4,518.
One option missing was the popup sunroof that’s been available for $300 since October. The sunroof would help circulate air among the seven seats and cargo hold.
Other options on the test vehicle were seven-passenger seating, up from thestandard five, for $870, the 3.8- and 4-speed for $819 and an electric rear-window defogger for $170. Add $530 for freight but subtract $700 for an option package discount and the sticker reads $22,896.
Personally, we’d wait for the air bag and power sliding side door.