When you're the world's biggest manufacturer of automobiles and trucks, sometimes it takes a little while to make changes. To quote a General Motors executive: GM is a big ship, and it takes awhile to turn it around.
In 2005, somebody finally took the helm at GM's Pontiac division, and the new-for-'05 G6 was frankly, a welcome replacement for the Grand Am, which was getting a little long in the tooth, after being in GM's lineup - in one form or another - for some 30 years. The Pontiac Grand Am actually debuted in 1973; part sport sedan and part family sedan, it wasn't especially good as either one and had one of the least enviable reliability records in GM's entire stable. For that reason alone, the G6 was a step forward for GM, and was a brand new vehicle in just about every way.
The body, for example, featured much more contemporary styling and was more up to date than the vehicle it replaced. It had an athletic presence about it, and, seemed to share a lot of styling cues with the Dodge Neon..especially in the back end. This may or may not have been a good thing, depending upon your point of view. Certainly, the G6 was a much leaner and more purposeful looking car than the Grand Am.
It was also built on GM's Epsilon platform, and shared architecture with the Saab 9-3 and Chevrolet Malibu Maxx, among others. This was definitely a good thing, as both of those models were standouts in GM's stable. As well, it gave the G6 a much more efficient starting point, both in terms of space utilization and handling qualities. Not to mention being light years ahead of its predecessor when it came to unravelling the twisties. Responsive, nimble, predictable.all the things that the Grand Am wasn't. In fact, the G6 was actually a pretty entertaining car to drive if you were feeling frisky and had an empty highway in front of you. Still is.
Helping things considerably was a 3.5 litre V6 engine that developed 200 horsepower and 220 foot-pounds of torque. It was mated to a four-speed transmission only, although a six-speed manual appeared later in the next model year. This engine, interestingly, was an OHV unit with two valves per cylinder, and conventional pushrods. But it seemed to be the right choice for this particular automobile and willingly revved to 6000 rpm, which was more than adequate for most folks in this market segment.
Suspension duties were handled by MacPherson struts up front and a four-link, coil spring set-up in the back. Both ends have stabilizer bars and Pontiac offered a standard and GT version of the G6, with the latter featuring slightly beefier suspension components, larger brakes, and bigger wheels and tires. Both versions came equipped with front and rear disc brakes, with available ABS.
Needless to say, the interior of the G6 was all-new as well, and was definitely aimed at enthusiasts. It featured backlit gauges, sport-type bucket seats, tasteful brushed aluminum trim, leather-wrapped steering wheel, and an intriguing feature called a Panoramic roof, which was a much larger than normal three-piece sunroof allowing rear seat passengers to get in on the al fresco fun as well. It was a $2175 option.
The biggest rap against the G6 had to do with interior elbow room.....or lack thereof. Despite its mid-size designation, it was not an especially roomy automobile, and headroom was at a premium..particularly in the back seat.
Being a General Motors product, the new G6 came with an options list as long as your arm. Leather interior, power adjustable pedals, upgraded stereo, anti-locking brakes, power driver's seat, and a remote starting device were all available with the GT version. Standard kit included power windows and door locks, 16-inch wheels and tires, a 60-40 folding rear seat, cruise control, tilt steering and so on. The passive safety side of things was handled by dual front airbags, as well as side curtain and seat-mounted air cushions. For its under-$25,000 starting price, the G6 was a well-equipped car.
Transport Canada has no safety recalls on file for the 2005 Pontiac G6, and the National Highway and Traffic safety Administration (NHTSA) only has one, and it's more of an advisory regarding child seat restraint installation procedures. On the other hand, NHTSA has 71 technical service bulletins for the G6, and they cover just about every aspect of the car, with particular emphasis on steering control malfunctions and electrical glitches.
Marketing researcher, J.D. Power, is all over the nap with the G6, giving it full marks for powertrain quality design, and better than most ratings for performance, and features/instrument panel. It doesn't fare as well when it comes to the initial quality survey, however, earning an average rating. Consumer Reports, meanwhile gives the 05 G6 sedan a higher than average rating, singling out controls, front seat comfort, and overall handling for praise. As far as they're concerned, the only glaring flaw in the G6 has to do with its lack of cargo-carrying capability.
These days, a three-year old G6 ranges in price from about $11,000 to $13,000, which is roughly half of its original base price of $24,670.
AT A GLANCE
Original Base Price: $24,670; Black Book Value: $12,300-$13,175; Red Book Value: $11,200-$11,675.
Engine: 3.5 litre V6
Horsepower/Torque: 200 hp/220 foot-pounds
Transmission: Four-speed automatic
Fuel Economy (litres/100 km): 11.7 city/7.7 hwy, regular gas
Alternatives: Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima, Mazda 6, VW Jetta, Chevrolet Malibu, Mitsubishi Galant.