2006 Grand Prix New Car Test Drive
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 continued to today. For 2004, Pontiac released the ninth-generation Grand Prix, and it's better than ever.
The previous Pontiac Grand Prix had been known as a fine mover, a good stopper, a fair looker and a reasonable handler. The current car brings improvements in all those categories, and a real revolution in interior design, not only in eye-appeal and ergonomics but in versatility, flexibility and utility. The latent creativity of the General Motors design staff has been stirred into activity coming up with more good ideas than a carton of cartoon light bulbs.
If the name 'sport-utility vehicle' wasn't already taken for more cumbersome, truck-like machines, it could have been applied to the Grand Prix, which has a valid claim to both 'sport' and 'utility.' It's fun to drive in the twisties and you can stuff a nine-foot kayak into it and still close the trunk.
Detail improvements for 2005 include an upgraded generation of OnStar standard on all models, and the availability of MP3 audio, DVD-based navigation, dual-zone automatic climate control, and remote starting. Model and trim designations have been rationalized, while the Comp G option package still stokes excitement at the top end of the range.
The 2005 Pontiac Grand Prix is offered in three primary trim levels: base, GT and GTP, with an additional ultimate-handling Competition Group available on the GTP. All are five-passenger, four-door, front-wheel-drive sedans with 3.8-liter V6 engines and four-speed automatic transmissions.
Base and GT models come with a V6 engine that 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 ($22,900) 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 steel wheels, and all the usual power conveniences. ABS ($600) is optional and comes with electronic brake-force distribution (EBD), advanced traction control, and a tire inflation monitor. A Driver's Package ($500) combines a power driver's seat, front and rear floor mats and 16-inch polished aluminum wheels.
GT ($24,800) adds ABS with brake-based traction control, electronic (rather than hydraulic) power steering, power front seats, upgraded interior appointments, aluminum wheels, and MP3 capability for the stereo.
GTP ($26,560) gets a supercharged version of the same V6 engine that generates 260 horsepower at 5400 rpm and 280 pound-feet of torque at 3600 rpm. Additional equipment includes full-function traction control and P225/55HR17 touring tires on 17-inch aluminum wheels.
The Competition Group, or Comp G, ($1,395) is an option package for the GTP that adds a sports suspension, B.F. Goodrich Comp T/A performance tires, StabiliTrak Sport, TAPshift, and a more aggressive 3.29:1 final drive gear (instead of the standard GTP's 2.93). StabiliTrak Sport is a vehicle-stability system tuned to provide maximum hands-on control during cornering. TAPshift (Touch Activated Power) provides a set of small paddles on the steering wheel allowing semi-manual shifting of the automatic transmission.
Options for GT and GTP models include dual-zone automatic climate control ($275); XM Satellite Radio ($325); a 235-watt Monsoon audio system ($695); DVD-based navigation with Monsoon audio ($2,390), trip computer with head-up display and dual-zone automatic climate control ($875); leather upholstery ($795).
Side-impact and curtain airbags ($395) are available on all models. So is a remote starter ($150) and engine-block heater ($35).