The Bonneville, Pontiacs largest, most expensive sedan, was redesigned last year, so it receives minor changes this year. OnStar, General Motors satellite-based communication system, is now standard on SLE and SSEi models and optional on the base SE. Heated front seats, previously available only on the SSEi, are now optional across the board. The Bonneville is built from the same front-drive platform as the Buick LeSabre but has sportier styling, a performance image and a stronger mission to attract younger buyers than its more conservative cousin.
Key rivals include the Dodge Intrepid and Chrysler Concorde, Chevrolet Impala, and midsize models such as the Nissan Maxima and Toyota Avalon.
Maintaining Pontiacs reputation for bold styling, the Bonneville has a wedge profile, a twin-port grille, cats-eye headlights and body-side ribbing. The Bonneville is 203 inches long slightly shorter than the Dodge Intrepid.
SE models come with standard 16-inch wheels and tires, and SLE and SSEi models come with 17-inchers. The SLE and SSEi also have a standard rear spoiler.
SE models are available with front bucket seats or a three-place split bench seat, but about 80 percent of Bonnevilles are sold with the buckets, according to Pontiac. The front head restraints are the catchers-mitt type that, in a rear-end collision, move up and forward, closer to the occupants head to reduce the chance of whiplash injury.
The roomy, 18-cubic-foot trunk has a long, wide floor. There is a small pass-through section from the trunk to the interior for carrying long items, but a folding rear seatback isnt available.
Under the Hood
SE and SLE models come with General Motors 205-horsepower 3.8-liter V-6 engine, used in several other large GM cars. The SSEi model comes with a supercharged 3.8-liter V-6 engine that generates 240 hp. A four-speed automatic transmission is standard on both models.
Side-impact airbags for the front seats and antilock brakes are standard on all three models. Traction control is standard on the SSEi and optional on the others, and StabiliTrak, GMs lateral-skid control technology, also is standard on the SSEi.
The Bonneville separates itself from GMs other large cars with its sporty demeanor and aggressive look, which may not appeal to all buyers. In addition to offering attitude and a sporty appearance, the Bonneville is a functional, roomy sedan with good acceleration and handling.
The base SE model, with its smaller, softer tires, offers a more comfortable ride with little loss of handling ability.