Pontiac has made a name for itself by delivering cars with distinctive styling. The newest version of the Bonneville, its flagship sedan, certainly meets these expectations. It has an aggressive stance that stands out in a crowd, so it might not suit the tastes of someone who wants to blend in. However, the Bonneville should fit the bill for somebody who is looking for a car a sporty character that can seat up to six people. European manufacturers tend to have a monopoly on sports sedans, but Pontiac gives it a good shot with this car.
The 2000 model year Bonneville represents an all-new design. Its dimensions are much the same and it is powered by the same engine, but it provides a new presence on the road while maintaining the Pontiac look.
There are three trim levels in the Bonneville range: SE, SLE and SSEi. A price spread of nearly $8,000 lies between the base SE and the top-of-the line SSEi. Anti-lock brakes acting on all four wheels are standard, along with front and side airbags.
The same 3.8-liter V6 engine powers all three. The SSEi gets a supercharger that boosts engine power to 240 horsepower. The SE and SLE have a normally aspirated (non-turbocharged) version of the same engine, which produces 205 horsepower. Performance of all three models is good, although most driving enthusiasts will appreciate the extra oomph provided by the SSEi's supercharged engine.
The base SE starts at $24,295. (Unlike most manufacturers, Pontiac graciously includes the destination charge in all of its prices. We wish all manufacturers did this.) For this price, the SE includes a comprehensive list of features that will suffice for the majority of potential buyers. Standard features include a four-speed automatic transmission, air conditioning, tilt steering wheel, power doors, power windows, power mirrors and a reasonably good radio cassette system.
The SLE model starts at $27,995 and adds a leather-wrapped steering wheel with radio controls, dual-zone automatic climate control, 6-way power driver seat, remote keyless entry, improved sound system, tire pressure monitor, alloy wheels and a performance suspension.
The SSEi is priced at $32,250, which pushes it into near-luxury segment price territory. But for this price, the buyer gets the supercharged engine, traction control, improved magnetic variable-assist power steering, leather upholstery, 12-way power seats, a head-up display, Bose stereo system, automatic mirrors and a universal garage door opener.
Many of the standard features on the more expensive models can be ordered as options on the lower-priced models.