2001 Bonneville New Car Test Drive
With its distinctive appearance, there's no mistaking the Pontiac Bonneville for anything else. Pontiac's flagship sedan comes with an aggressive stance, a sporty driving character, and can seat up to six people. In the past, manufacturers from Germany and Sweden held the crown as the top-producers of sports sedans, but this Bonneville can give the Europeans a run for the money.
The Bonneville was redesigned last year, and changes very little for 2001. The OnStar navigation and security system is now standard on SLE and SSEi models, and heated front seats are optional on all models.
Three trim levels are available in the Bonneville lineup: SE ($25,075), SLE ($28,045), and SSEi ($32,415). A price spread of more than $7,000 lies between the base SE and the top-of-the line SSEi. Four-wheel anti-lock brakes and front and side airbags are standard throughout.
All Bonnevilles come with 3.8-liter V6 engines. The SSEi gets a supercharger that boosts engine power to 240 horsepower. The SE and SLE have a normally aspirated (non-boosted) 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 of the supercharged SSEi.
Base SE includes a comprehensive list of features that will suffice for the majority of potential buyers. Standard equipment includes a four-speed automatic transmission, air conditioning, tilt steering wheel, power doors, power windows, power mirrors and a reasonably good AM/FM stereo cassette system.
SLE adds a leather-wrapped steering wheel with redundant audio controls, dual-zone automatic climate control, 6-way power driver seat, remote keyless entry, an upgraded sound system, tire pressure monitor, alloy wheels and a performance suspension.
SSEi pushes the Bonneville 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.