2008 Grand Prix New Car Test Drive
True to its long heritage, the Pontiac Grand Prix is a big car promising performance-car excitement. The standard model offers better-than-average performance, while the GXP rolls with V8 thunder.
The Grand Prix is fun to drive in the twisties, yet it's practical. You can stuff a nine-foot kayak inside and still close the trunk, thanks to an optional front passenger seat that folds flat for long loads.
Since its debut in 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, even by 1960s standards. For 1969, the Grand Prix shrank to mid-size, but its theme of dramatic style continues today.
The Grand Prix is a five-passenger, four-door, front-wheel-drive sedan. The current-generation Grand Prix was launched as a 2004 model, and we think it's the best Grand Prix yet. Pontiac added more performance to the lineup with the addition of V8 power for 2006, and detail improvements followed for 2007.
The Grand Prix is powered by a 3.8-liter V6 and comes with a four-speed automatic transmission. The V6 develops 200 horsepower at 5200 rpm and 230 pound-feet of torque at 4000. The V6 gets an EPA-rated City/Highway 18/28 mpg, while meeting SULEV (Super Low Emissions Vehicle) standards in California and the Northeast.
The Grand Prix GXP boasts a 5.3-liter V8 that makes 303 horsepower at 5600 rpm and 323 pound-feet of torque at 4400 rpm. The V8 has GM's Active Fuel Management that deactivates four cylinders under light loads to improve fuel economy. The V8 gets an EPA-rated 16/25 mpg. The four-speed automatic transmission comes with a pair of steering-wheel-mounted paddles for manual shift capability. GXP models also get bigger brakes and an antiskid system.
The 2008 Pontiac Grand Prix comes in two trim levels: base and top-level GXP. (The mid-range GT model has been discontinued.)
The Grand Prix ($22,210) is well equipped, with air conditioning, cruise control, AM/FM/CD/MP3 stereo, full front floor console, two 12-volt accessory outlets, OnStar, 60/40 split folding rear seats, Pass-Key III security, 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; the Security Package adds side curtain airbags, and we recommend this.
Options include a Premium package ($940) with leather upholstery, heated front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, a fold-flat front passenger seat, and a cargo net. A more elaborate Preferred package ($965) includes power lumbar support, fold-flat front passenger seat, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, redundant audio controls on the steering wheel, driver information center, chrome interior accents, remote vehicle start, a cargo net, and a lighted vanity mirrors and reading lights. The Special Edition ($1,995) adds 17-inch aluminum wheels, stainless exhaust tips, body-color grille and aero extensions all around; while a Sport package ($680) adds fog lamps, stainless exhaust tips, and polished aluminum wheels; and a Custom Accessories Package ($675) combines a unique rear spoiler, front grille inserts, and stainless steel exhaust tips. Polished alloy wheels ($495), the fold-flat front passenger seat ($75), and remote starter ($190) are also available as stand-alones.
The performance-oriented GXP ($29,325) boasts a 5.3-liter transverse-mounted V8 that makes 303 horsepower at 5600 rpm and 323 pound-feet of torque at 4400 rpm. The V8 has GM's Active Fuel Management that deactivates four cylinders under light loads to improve fuel economy. The GXP’s automatic transmission comes with TAPshift (Touch Activated Power), a feature that provides a pair of steering-wheel-Safety features include dual-stage front airbags as standard equipment. Antilock brakes (ABS), electronic brake-force distribution, electronic stability control, and curtain airbags are optional.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, nine-speaker Monsoon sound system, a head-up instrument display, 255/45WR18 front and 225/50WR18 rear Bridgestone Potenza tires, and polished alloy wheels. Most of the equipment that’s optional on the base model is standard on the GXP. And the suspension is even sportier, with higher spring rates, gas-charged shocks, a nine-millimeter lower ride height, and a larger rear stabilizer bar.
Both models are offered with a sunroof ($895); or a Sun and Sound Package that combines a power sunroof and a 6-CD changer on the GXP ($1,195) plus the Monsoon sound system on the base model ($1,590). XM Satellite Radio ($200) and an engine block heater ($75) are also available. A navigation system is offered on both models, but its price ($1,845-2,540) varies depending on other equipment.Safety features include dual-stage front airbags as standard equipment. Antilock brakes (ABS), electronic brake-force distribution, electronic stability control, and curtain airbags are optional.