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2006 Pontiac G6 review

November 13, 2005 07:02 PM EST | Pontiac , SUV's | Email to Friend | Comments (0)

View large imageWith the G6's stylish duds, roomy interior and distinctive features, Pontiac finally has a serious contender in the midsize sedan, coupe and convertible segments.

Pros
Huge rear seat, fuel-efficient V6 engines offer ample low-end pull, sporty suspension tuning, power hardtop in convertible model, panoramic sunroof in sedan.

Cons
Cheap interior plastics, numb electric steering, panoramic sunroof eats up rear-seat headroom.

What's New for 2006
The Pontiac G6 sees a host of changes for the 2006 model year. Starting things off are two new body styles: a two-door coupe and a hardtop convertible. The coupe will be available at the beginning of the model year, while the convertible hits dealer showrooms early in the 2006 calendar year. There are also new trim levels. A four-cylinder base sedan caters to those shoppers on a tighter budget, while a GTP trim increases the G6's performance threshold via the addition of a new 240-hp V6, stability control and an available six-speed manual transmission.

Introduction:
The G6 midsize sedan joined the Pontiac lineup in 2005 as a replacement for the aging Grand Am. It's a big improvement over the rental-car fleet-friendly "Bland Am" and, for 2006, Pontiac has made it even better by adding coupe and convertible body styles and performance-oriented GTP trim. The G6 is the third production car to utilize General Motors' Epsilon platform, but most new car buyers will never see the family resemblance. If it seems like the G6 looks a little bigger than its stablemate, the Chevrolet Malibu, that's because the Pontiac benefits from the lengthened version of the Epsilon platform used for the Malibu Maxx wagon. This long-wheelbase platform provides two main benefits -- more rear-seat room and better handling. The extra length makes for a truly big-car backseat, and passengers will enjoy plenty of legroom. The long wheelbase also helps the G6 deliver a smooth and stable ride. All body styles are suited for family duty, and the convertible is notable because of its retractable hardtop that can open or close in under 30 seconds with the touch of a button. As with most Pontiacs, the G6 is heavy on style, but this time the styling is bold yet clean with none of the plastic cladding of Pontiacs past. The standard 3.5-liter V6 offers just enough muscle to back up the sporty looks, while the new GTP's 3.9-liter V6 goes a long way toward reenergizing Pontiac's performance-oriented image. Overall, the G6 features a solid combination of bold styling, a cavernous interior and unique features, all at a competitive price.

Body Styles, Trim Levels and Options:
The four-door G6 comes in three trim levels: base, GT and GTP, while the coupe and convertible come in either GT or GTP trim. Generous standard equipment on the base model includes air conditioning; power windows, locks and mirrors; a 60/40-split-folding rear seat; a CD player; and a tilt/telescoping steering wheel. The GT adds power-adjustable pedals, an eight-speaker Monsoon sound system, a rear spoiler and alloy wheels. The GTP adds sport suspension, stability control, 18-inch wheels and automatic climate control. Notable options include a remote start system, satellite radio and chrome alloy wheels.

Powertrains and Performance:
Standard power for the sedan comes from a 2.4-liter four-cylinder with 167 horsepower. A 3.5-liter V6 with 201 hp is also available, and all GT cars have this V6 as standard equipment. A four-speed automatic transmission driving the front wheels is standard with either of these engines. The GTP coupe and sedan come with a 240-hp, 3.9-liter V6 that can be paired with the standard four-speed auto or an optional six-speed manual transmission. This engine in the GTP convertible has 227 hp.

Safety:
The G6 features standard four-wheel disc brakes. Antilock brakes and traction control are standard on all but the base sedan. Head-protecting side curtain airbags are optional on sedans only. The GTP features a standard stability control system. In NHTSA crash testing, the G6 sedan earned five stars (the best rating possible) for its protection of the driver in frontal impacts. Front-passenger protection has a four-star rating, while side-impact protection for both front and rear passengers is five stars. The IIHS has not yet tested the Pontiac G6.

Interior Design and Special Features:
The interior of the G6 features stylish seating with generous side bolsters to hold you in place during aggressive cornering. The gauges showcase Pontiac's signature font, and are set in an attractive cluster with chrome rings. Plenty of chrome and metal-look accents brighten up the interior. Materials quality is a step below class standards, with cheap plastics on the dash and console. A unique option on the G6 sedan is a panoramic sunroof that opens in four sections and remains exposed when it's open so that it looks like a roof spoiler. Rear-seat room is generous no matter which body style you choose.

Driving Impressions:
In terms of power, the four-cylinder G6 compares favorably with competitors' base engines but is lacking in refinement. The fuel-efficient 3.5-liter V6 offers plenty of torque down low for easy passing and merging, but can also get a bit thrashy at high revs. The new 3.9-liter GTP is clearly the enthusiast's choice, especially with the manual tranny. Although the electric steering is too numb for our taste, the suspension returns a surprisingly sporty ride, and the solid structure helps make the interior a serene place to spend time.

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