The Car Connection Pontiac Grand Prix Overview
The Pontiac Grand Prix has been through a lot of iterations over the years, from a personal-luxury coupe to a muscle car, to a rather mainstream coupe model; but the versions that used-car shoppers are most likely to encounter today will either be of the most recent 2004-2008 generation, or the previous 1997-2003 iteration.
Within that era, the Grand Prix was offered as a coupe or sedan, with a range of several different V-6 engines and a slight bit more sportiness—in styling and performance—than most other mainstream sedans.
With an overall length of up to 198 inches, the Grand Prix was longer than most mid-size sedans of the time; although it wasn’t as roomy inside as Pontiac’s full-size model, the Bonneville, which was about six inches longer.
The 1997-2003 Grand Prix, as well as the 1988-1996 version before it, was offered in either coupe or sedan body styles. There wasn’t a significant difference in length or cabin legroom, although getting in and out was considerably more difficult in coupes, and headroom was maybe a little more restricted in those two-door variants due to the roofline.
Nearly all of these models are powered by V-6 engines, which for the most part move the Grand Prix along quickly enough but with more coarseness than other V-6s of the time. The 3.1-liter that was probably the most common by number produced has a reputation for having gasket issues with age, whether the mileage is high or not. GT models (or some SE models) with the 3.8-liter V-8 (3800) are the way to go on the used-car market, if you must have a Grand Prix, but avoid the supercharged GTP. In any case, you get a four-speed automatic transmission that’s uninspiring but quick enough to downshift when needed.
These models used essentially the same platform, from the time they were made front-wheel drive in 1988 all the way to their discontinuation in 2008, although GM did make some significant changes with each refresh. The 2004 through 2008 Grand Prix was only offered as a sedan, as GM moved to sell a separate two-door, rear-wheel-drive GTO.
Throughout all of these front-wheel drive versions of the Grand Prix, interior materials were cheap, and the dash displays were cluttered with buttons. By the time they went out of production their cabins were up to a higher standard, however.
The highlight of those later years—on a spec sheet—was a version of the GXP that packed a 303-horsepower V-8 engine, plus various suspension, wheel, and tire upgrades to match, as well as GM’s head-up display. This version wasn’t as drivable as V-6 versions however, and it brought out the inadequacies of the then-aged W-body platform.