2007 Pontiac Grand Prix
Since 1962, the Pontiac Grand Prix has been a family-size car with custom-car styling and a performance-car attitude. The first two generations of Grand Prix were big cars, too, even by 1960s standards. For 1969, the Grand Prix shrank to mid-size, but its theme of dramatic style continues to today. Pontiac released the best Grand Prix yet as a 2004 model, made it even better in 2006 with the addition of V8 power, and has kept a good thing going for 2007.
The Grand Prix is fun to drive in the twisties yet it's practical: You can stuff a nine-foot kayak into it and still close the trunk.
For 2007, detail improvements include a standard power driver seat and more standard features for the topline GXP model. Those features include leather/suede upholstery, heated front seats, and a front passenger seat that folds flat.
The 2007 Pontiac Grand Prix is offered in three primary trim levels: base, GT and GXP. All are five-passenger, four-door, front-wheel-drive sedans. Base models have a normally aspirated 3.8-liter V6; the GT comes with a supercharged 3.8-liter V6; and the GXP is powered by a 5.3-liter V8. All use a four-speed automatic transmission.
The base model's V6 develops 200 horsepower at 5200 rpm and 230 pound-feet of torque at 4000. In California and the Northeast, this engine meets SULEV (Super Low Emissions Vehicle) standards.
The standard Grand Prix ($21,745) is well equipped, with air conditioning, cruise control, AM/FM/CD stereo, full front floor console, driver information center, two 12-volt accessory outlets, OnStar, 60/40 split folding rear seats, Pass-Key III security, fog lamps, P225/60 touring tires on 16-inch alloy wheels, a tire inflation monitor, and all the usual power conveniences. ABS ($600) is optional and comes with electronic brake-force distribution (EBD) and advanced traction control. It can also be had in a $945 Security Package that also includes curtain side airbags. An available $965 Preferred Package includes a fold-flat front passenger seat, remote engine starting, a trip computer, a cargo net, and several interior upgrades.
The GT's ($24,665) supercharged V6 boosts output to 260 horsepower at 5400 rpm and 280 pount-feet of torque at 3600 rpm. All GT models add ABS with brake-based traction control, electronic (rather than hydraulic) power steering, remote engine starting, the Preferred Package's upgraded interior appointments, 17-inch tires, and a sport suspension. Pontiac offers a $1995 Special Edition Package for base and GT models that includes body cladding, grille inserts, stainless steel exhaust tips, and P225/55HR17 touring tires on aluminum wheels. The curtain side airbags are available separately for the GT at a cost of $395.
The performance-oriented GXP boasts a 5.3-liter transverse-mounted V8 that makes 303 horsepower at 5600 rpm and 323 pound-feet or torque at 4400 rpm. The V8 has GM's Active Fuel Management that deactivates four cylinders under light loads to improve fuel economy. It's automatic transmission comes with TAPshift (Touch Activated Power) that provides a pair of steering-wheel-mounted paddles for manual shift capability. GXP models also get bigger brakes, an antiskid system, leather and suede upholstery, dual-zone climate controls, heated front seats, an upgraded Monsoon sound system, a head-up instrument display, 255/45WR18 front and 225/50WR18 rear Bridgestone Potenza tires, and polished alloy wheels. The suspension is even sportier, with higher spring rates, a nine-millimeter lower ride height, and a larger rear stabilizer bar.
Options for base and GT models include a Premium Package with leather upholstery, heated front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, and a fold-flat front passenger seat ($940 base, $1015 GT); XM Satellite Radio ($199); a Custom Accessories Package with a unique rear spoiler, front grille inserts, and stainless steel exhaust tips ($675); and polished alloy wheels ($495).
All models are offered with a Sun and Sound Package that includes a power sunroof and a Monsoon audio system with in-dash six-disc CD changer ($1090 base and GT with Premium Package, $1195 GXP). A navigation system paired with the upgraded Monsoon sound system costs $2540 for base and GT models $2145 for GXP.
Curtain airbags ($395) are available on all models.
A commitment to style separates the Grand Prix from other mid-size transportation pods. A coupe-like tautness characterizes the exterior design of this four-door sedan, thanks to a more extreme wedge shape and a roofline five inches longer than that of the previous-generation model. The rear end is as muscular as a speed skater's. Pronounced, enlarged taillights are mounted at the corners. A discreet spoiler finishes the deck lid.
Through the taillights and extended into the sheet metal are two horizontal bulges, like cladding segments escaped from the sides of a Grand Am. If this were a fashion story, we would say they were “to add eye interest” to the rear. And oddly, they do. Anyway, following a Grand Prix down the highway is a pleasant occupation. The rear is important in appearance and certainly distinguishable from its road mates.
Up front, the slightly sculptured hood flows into Pontiac's trademark twin kidney grille. It looks a bit like a tight smirk or knowing grin. The headlights are even more slanted and attenuated than on the previous Grand Prix.
The so-called Coke-bottle sides are marked by two parallel character lines through the two doors about a hand's span below the door handles. Gratefully, there's no cladding, side character lines can be off-putting. One reason the new Grand Prix looks best in black is because black hides these creases.
The aerodynamic door handles are easy enough to use, but can be hard to grab and hold onto when in a hurry.
The Grand Prix interior is a product of 1990s GM, when interior quality waned. However, Pontiac made enough upgrades along the way to make the cabin a pleasant enough environment that is appropriate for the price.
Leather and satin nickel set the tone for the interior style, and materials pleasant to both the eye and fingertips continue the experience. All of the controls are well-marked and within arm's reach. The seats are supportive and comfortable. The leather-wrapped steering wheel fills the hand just right. The outside mirrors are remarkably large for a sedan. They offer excellent rearward vision yet add no noticeable wind noise.
Initially we thought headroom seemed a little tight, but the Grand Prix offers more headroom than a Honda Accord. One of our few disappointments is the glove box lid, which opens with the clatter of plastic. The coupelike body design can make headroom tight for rear seat riders. The rear seat bottoms are also flat and set low, making long-trip comfort an issue. It's much nicer to sit in the front than the back.
The instrument panel, pleasing in its three-dimensional, yet simple, layout, is readily visible through the smart three-spoke steering wheel. The large center speedometer stands out from and overlaps the tachometer (on the left) and the circle containing the fuel and temperature gauges (on the right). Backgrounded with a shadowy grid pattern, these watch-like dials yield their information with simple, uncluttered, handsome functionality.
Technology allows the speedometer to be rimmed with only one set of numbers to designate speed in both miles and kilometers per hour. How? Punch in your choice on the Driver Information Center (DIC) and the numbers change. Cross a border, make your selection and read Ks; punch again and it's miles. No cluttering inner-ring of numbers. How cool is that?
You'll find the optional head up display (HUD) almost subliminal in its presence. You can select the amount of information it gives and at night, to conserve your night vision and limit reflections, you can douse the instrument panel lights completely, fly in stealth mode, and still keep tabs on what's important.
The Driver Information Center with its four-line read-out is just to the right and above your fist in a console canted slightly toward you. Below an organized cluster of white icons on simple black buttons and dials keep the driver tuned in, warm or cool, etc. Pleasing to look at and nothing bewildering.
The cabin is comfortable and pleasant to look at, but what is really special is its functionality and flexibility. Not only do the back seats fold down in pairs or singly (with a 60/40 split) to effectively increase cargo capacity, the back of the front passenger seat folds forward on GXP (optional on base and GT), table flat.
All this flat and nearly flat space can be accessed through the trunk, which benefits from a particularly low lift-over height. Thus it's easy to fold the appropriate seats and load long objects into the vehicle: a roll of carpet or a ladder or skis or Italian market umbrellas. You can close the trunk door on anything up to nine feet long, like a rigged fly rod, for example. That trunk opening besides being lower is also about ten inches wider. Boxed bikes anyone?
With the rear seat up and five people on board, the trunk still holds 16 cubic feet of whatever those folks need to carry.
Lots of interior toting room is worthless if you can't get the objects you are toting through the holes in the vehicle. In shopping mall parking lots anywhere in the country you'll find cartons that once held TVs, microwave ovens, computer components and barbecues. The products had to be stripped of their packing to manipulate them through car doors. Cognizant of that problem, Grand Prix engineers redesigned the doors to swing out 82 degrees, improving ingress and egress for people and stuff.
When driving alone, the driver can use
The Pontiac Grand Prix has always been fun to drive, and this latest rendition is a gratifying performer.
The ideal touring car makes itself transparent to the driver. The driving experience is noticeable, not the vehicle providing that experience. Anyone test-driving such a car has to consciously force their attention through to the vehicle instead of simply enjoying the ease of motion, the willingness of the engine, the responsiveness of the brakes. The driver has to look for those aspects of the car that its designers have worked to make seamless. We paid attention to those details and allowed ourselves to enjoy the experience.
To maintain peak performance athletes might clamp an oxygen mask to their face. That's what an engine is doing with a turbo or supercharger: forcing more oxygen inside. While a turbo comes into play after the engine is spooled up a bit, a supercharger is there from the get-go. The 3.8-liter V6 in the Grand Prix is normally aspirated in the base model but supercharged in the GT. The supercharger lowers gas mileage slightly, but adds 60 horsepower, boosting output to 260 hp. The additional thrust this provides reduces by some two seconds in the time it takes to reach 60 mph from a standstill. We're talking 0-60 in just 6.5 seconds, which is very quick indeed. The acceleration performance of the GT is comforting when merging or passing in tight situations on two-lane roads.
Yet gas mileage is still respectable: The base Grand Prix gets an EPA-estimated 20/30 mpg City/Highway, and the GT gets 19/28 mpg.
Another way to increase performance can be summed up in the old adage: there's no substitute for cubic inches. The GXP has 325 cubes, which brings horsepower to 303 and torque to a stump-pulling 323 pound-feet. The V8 cuts the 0-60 mph time to 5.6 seconds, which is darn quick, especially for a front-drive sedan. Gas mileage suffers only slightly, with EPA numbers of 18 mpg city and 27 highway.
Usually when even 200 horsepower is put through the front wheels of a front-wheel-drive car a phenomenon known as torque steer ensues. Torque steer is felt as a disconcerting tug at the steering wheel under rapid acceleration. It's like the front wheels are in a race with each other. So it's impressive that there's so little torque steer in the Grand Prix, even when putting 303 ponies to the pavement. Pull away smoothly with the right foot down hard and the Grand Prix is as stable as an Acura. Keep your foot to the floor, and the V8 keeps pulling. The front-wheel drive makes you feel like you're being pulled instead of propelled forward like you would in a rear-drive car. It's fun but we think V8s are best balanced with rear-wheel drive. The V6s are better balanced to the front-drive layout of the Grand Prix.
The four-speed automatic transmission shifts in smooth increments, but downshifts can deliver a notable kick when stomping the throttle in the GXP. An electronic traction control system (ETC) has a speed-based response mechanism meaning that the car is tractable around town without goosey overreaction, but answers the call for power instantly at highway speeds. It should be noted, however, that the Grand Prix is equipped with a four-speed automatic while the latest designs use six-speed automatics.
The GXP has steering-wheel-mounted buttons to give the driver the option of semi-manual shifting, called TAPshift (Touch Activated Power). Press down on the button to select a lower gear, up on for a higher gear; a button is on each side of the steering wheel. Quick to respond, TAPshift offers more control over shifting for driving entertainment or to reduce shifting in hilly terrain. TAPshift is also programmed to hold gears longer than other such systems, improving the GXP's responsiveness when driving hard.
In terms of ride quality, the base Grand Prix model offers the most traditional ride, the GT and GXP are tighter for secure cornering yet retain enoug
The Pontiac Grand Prix is fun to drive yet a utilitarian transporter of people and things. The GXP is hot rod that offers driving enjoyment and character. The Pontiac Grand Prix is well worth consideration as an enjoyable sports sedan. It is hot to drive and cool to live with.
NewCarTestDrive.com correspondent Kirk Bell contributed to this report.
|Model Line Overview|
|Model lineup:||Pontiac Grand Prix ($21,745); GT ($24,665); GXP ($28,745)|
|Engines:||200-hp 3.8-liter ohv V6; 260-hp 3.8-liter ohv supercharged V6, 303-hp 5.3-liter ohv V8|
|Transmissions:||4-speed automatic; 4-speed automatic with TAPshift|
|Safety equipment (standard):||dual-stage front airbags, tire inflation monitoring system|
|Safety equipment (optional):||ABS, EBD, traction control, stability control, curtain airbags|
|Basic warranty:||3 years/36,000 miles|
|Assembled in:||Oshawa, Ontario|
|Specifications As Tested|
|Model tested (MSPR):||Pontiac Grand Prix GXP ($29,940)|
|Standard equipment:||leather/suede upholstery; air conditioning; power front bucket seats; 60/40 split folding rear seatbacks; fog lamps; twin exhaust tips; backlight radio antenna; tinted glass; Driver Information Center; remote keyless entry; anti-theft system; power mirrors/door locks/windows; cruise control; rear defogger; leather-wrapped tilt steering wheel; tachometer; CD radio with 6 speakers and steering wheel audio controls; two auxiliary power outlets; side protective moldings; premium lighting (rear assist handles, lighted vanity mirrors, reading lamps front/rear): overhead console with glasses storage; right front folding seatback; cargo net; ABS with enhanced traction system; antiskid system; Magnasteer variable effort power steering; OnStar; tire inflation monitoring system; remote engine starting; dual-zone automatic climate control; heated front seats, head-up instrument display|
|Options as tested (MSPR):||Sun and Sound Package ($1195) includes power sunroof, in-dash 6-CD player, and 9 Monsoon speakers|
|Gas guzzler tax:||N/A|
|Price as tested (MSPR):||$29940|
|Engine:||5.3-liter ohv V8|
|Horsepower (lb.-ft @ rpm):||303 @ 5600|
|Torque (lb.-ft @ rpm):||323 @ 4400|
|Transmission:||4-speed automatic with TAPshift|
|EPA fuel economy, city/hwy:||18/27 mpg|
|Track, f/r:||63.5/61.7 in.|
|Turning circle:||38.0 ft.|
|Head/hip/leg room, f:||38.5/54.6/42.4 in.|
|Head/hip/leg room, m:||N/A|
|Head/hip/leg room, r:||36.5/53.5/36.5 in.|
|Cargo volume:||57 cu. ft.|
|Towing capacity:||1000 Lbs.|
|Suspension, f:||independent, MacPherson struts, lower A-arms, coil springs, anti-roll bar|
|Suspension, r:||independent, tri-link, coil-over struts, anti-roll bar|
|Curb weigth:||3600 lbs.|
|Tires:||P255/45WR18 front, 225/50WR18 rear Bridgestone Potenza|
|Brakes, f/r:||disc/disc with ABS and EBD|
|Fuel capacity:||17 gal.|
|Unless otherwise indicated, specifications refer to test vehicle. All prices are manufacturer's suggested retail prices (MSPR) effective as of July 13, 2007.Prices do not include manufacturer's destination and delivery charges. N/A: Information not available or not applicable. Manufacturer Info Sources: 1-800-762-2737 - www.pontiac.com|