2009 G5 New Car Test Drive
The Pontiac G5 is a sporty two-door coupe that gets good fuel economy and is comfortable and enjoyable for daily commuting. It's sleek and stylish. The cabin is nice and all the controls are easy to operate. OnStar comes standard, adding safety and convenience.
For 2009, all G5 models come with an improved 2.2-engine equipped with variable valve timing. The 2009 G5 gets an EPA-rated 35 miles per gallon on the Highway, a 12 percent improvement over the base 2008 model. That kind of fuel economy puts the slickly styled G5 into the same economy range as a subcompact.
The 2009 Pontiac G5 comes in a standard version and as a sportier GT. For 2009, both are powered by the same 2.2-liter four-cylinder engine rated 155 horsepower. That's up for the standard version, down for the GT, with better fuel efficiency for both. With either model, a five-speed manual transmission is standard, a four-speed automatic is optional. Helping to maximize fuel economy with the manual transmission is a longer-legged final drive ratio (3.63:1, vs. 3.84) and, on manual base models, low rolling resistance tires. The G5 is front-wheel drive.
The G5 GT comes with a sports suspension, performance tires and wheels, four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, and StabiliTrak electronic stability control, along with upgraded premium features.
For 2009, a passenger-sensing system has been added to the dual-stage frontal airbags, and Bluetooth wireless connectivity has been added to the OnStar system, which comes standard, enabling hands-free telephone use. New equipment packages are available for 2009, also. The G5 comes standard with head-curtain airbags, a tire-pressure monitor, and XM Satellite Radio.
With any coupe, interior space and passenger capacity are compromised for sporty styling, and that's the case here. Pontiac describes the G5 as a five-passenger car, but limited rear legroom makes carrying five adults a serious challenge. We view it as a primarily a two-seater, with the capability of carrying a couple more people in a pinch. The back of the cabin is best used for parcels. Flip down the back seats and this little coupe can haul a respectable load of cargo.
The Pontiac G5 shares mechanical underpinnings with the Chevrolet Cobalt, and we think that's a good thing, but the Pontiac is available only as a coupe.
The 2009 Pontiac G5 comes in two trim levels, base and GT. Both are powered by a 155-hp, 2.2 liter four-cylinder. The standard transmission is a five-speed manual; a four-speed automatic is optional ($925).
The G5 ($16,275) comes with air conditioning; power windows, mirrors, and door locks with remote/keyless entry; tilt steering; four-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio; 60/40 split-folding back seat; height-adjustable driver's seat; and 195/60R15 low-rolling-resistance tires on 15-inch steel wheels. OnStar and XM Satellite Radio are also standard. The standard suspension, called FE1, is tuned for a smooth ride. Brakes are discs in front, drums in the rear.
G5 options: The Sun & Sound Package ($995) combines a sunroof with a seven-speaker Pioneer audio system. MyLink ($995) combines one year of OnStar Directions & Connections with 16-inch machined aluminum wheels, 205/55R16 touring tires, ABS, cruise control, auxiliary USB audio port, leather wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, and steering-wheel-mounted audio controls. The Appearance Package ($295) adds body-color side moldings, a trunk cargo net, a chrome exhaust tip, and fog lamps.
The G5 GT ($19,575) upgrades with StabiliTrak electronic stability control, four-wheel-disc brakes with anti-lock (ABS), FE3 sport suspension, and 17-inch aluminum wheels wearing summer performance tires. The GT also adds heated seats, cruise control, foglamps, the seven-speaker stereo, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, audio and cruise controls on the steering wheel, and a chrome-tipped exhaust.
Options for both models include a sunroof ($750), USB input ($100), leather seats with front seat heaters ($795), engine block heater ($75), and remote starter ($190). A cigarette lighter and ashtray are available ($40). The seven-speaker stereo ($295), ABS ($400), and cruise control ($275) are available for the base model.
Safety features include dual-stage frontal air bags (now with a passenger sensor) and front seat belts with pretensioners (in a crash these remove the slack). Always wear those seat belts because they are your most important line of defense in a crash. Anti-lock brakes (ABS), standard on GT and optional on the base model, can help drivers avoid accidents by allowing them to maintain control of the steering at maximum braking effort. We recommend getting ABS.
The standard OnStar service includes the General Motors Advanced Automatic Crash Notification (AACN) system, which makes crash data available to participating 911 centers, to help them dispatch the appropriate life-saving personnel and equipment to crash scenes faster. Also available is OnStar's Vehicle Diagnostics notification system that allows subscribers to receive free monthly reports via E-mail. Each diagnostic report provides information on the remaining life of the engine oil, as well as tire pressures and checks on the engine and transmission, emissions controls, braking systems, and air bags. OnStar is highly useful for navigation and we've found the OnStar operators friendly and helpful.