New & Used Pontiac Bonneville : In Depth
2005 Pontiac Bonneville SEEnlarge Photo
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The Pontiac Bonneville was a full-size line of cars built by the General Motors division through 2005. Although it began as a limited-edition, high-performance convertible model in 1957, it soon expanding into a full lineup of two- and four-door sedans, convertibles, and wagons.
The final generation of the Bonneville, a four-door sedan, ran from 2000 through 2005. It had been completely redesigned and shared its front-wheel-drive underpinnings with the Oldsmobile Aurora and two Buicks: the Lacrosse and Lucerne. Most Bonnevilles of this series were sold with a 3.8-liter V-6, producing either 205 horsepower in standard form or 240 hp when supercharged in the SSEi model. In 2004, a 275-hp 4.6-liter V-8 was offered in the high-performance GXP model, using a powertrain carried over from the Aurora, which had been discontinued when the Oldsmobile brand was shut down. The more powerful "Northstar" V-8, originally a Cadillac engine, replaced the supercharged V-6 in the lineup. The only transmissions offered were four-speed automatics, and EPA combined gas-mileage ratings varied from 18 to 21 mpg.
The previous generation of Bonnevilles ran from 1992 through 1999, with a mid-cycle update for the 1996 model year that restyled the grille, headlights, body cladding, taillights, and bumper shields. The only engine, in power outputs from 170 to 240 hp, was the 3.8-liter V-6, and four-speed automatics were again the sole transmission choice. The 1992 Bonneville was the first year in which a driver's airbag was offered as standard equipment, along with anti-lock brakes.
Trim levels included the base SE, the mid-level SSE, and the SSEi performance model with the supercharged V-6 engine. The SE model was the only trim level that continued to offer six-passenger seating, with an optional bench front seat, though that option would disappear during the model run in the face of new safety regulations. An SLE trim level was added in 1993 as an SE with a few more standard features.
Early generations of Bonnevilles ran from 1958 (as a coupe or convertible) through 1991, by which time the line had been reduced to a single four-door sedan body style. From 1982 to 1986, the Bonneville name was applied to a mid-size sedan and wagon lineup, but the experiment in downsizing proved unpopular with customers, and Pontiac resurrected a full-size sedan under the Parisienne label before returning the 1987 Bonneville to a full-size sedan. That 1987 car was the first front-wheel-drive Bonneville, and the two following generations kept that layout.
GM dropped the Bonneville after the 2005 model, and Pontiac had no full-size car until the rear-wheel-drive G8 model launched in 2008. It would prove short-lived, as the entire Pontiac brand was shut down during the company's 2009 bankruptcy and government-backed restructuring--which also killed off HUMMER, Saab, and Saturn.