The Car Connection Pontiac Torrent Overview
The Pontiac Torrent was a compact crossover vehicle sold for the 2006 through 2009 model years. As a successor to the Pontiac Aztek, it brought Pontiac into the roomy side of the compact-ute segment, heading up against the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, Dodge Journey, Mitsubishi Outlander, and Subaru Forester, among many others.
When the Torrent was new, we summed it up as offering plenty of utility and usefulness but coming up a little short in nearly every other area. Then and now, if you want a crossover that drives well, provides a refined passenger experience, or is especially off-road-worthy or reliable, you should look to any of these rival models.
The fundamentals of the Torrent were far from exciting. The 185-horsepower, 3.4-liter V-6 was supplied from China, and it's a version of the engine that was used in GM's minivans (and the Aztek) years earlier. It has plenty of low-end torque, and it did well with the five-speed Aisin automatic, but its character is gruff. Expect around 20 mpg overall. The Torrent had ABS, but with drum brakes in back (four-wheel discs were available from the second year on). The Torrent has electric power steering, with a unit that groaned when new (from our drive experience then) but was otherwise safe yet unexciting.
The Torrent was offered in either front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive versions; the AWD system in the Torrent requires some wheelspin in front before it will transfer appreciable torque to the back—so it's not a great pick as a ski vehicle. Given its lack of articulation and tight damping from its front strut, rear four-link suspension, it wasn't an off-road ace either—although, perplexingly, the Torrent included standard skid plates.
All that said, the passenger experience in the Torrent was quite good. These models had comfortable back seats (no third row, though), and the back row could slide fore and aft eight inches to balance out legroom and cargo space. The back doors opened wide, and GM really did a great job loading up the interior with storage spaces. There was even a flexible cargo shelf in back.
A Torrent GXP model that was introduced in 2008, adding a 264-hp, 3.6-liter DOHC V-6, a lower stance, performance suspension, alloy wheels, and far better hydraulic steering—plus a host of added features like sport leather upholstery, heated seats, piano black trim, and a DVD entertainment system.
Although the GXP was much improved, it wasn't on the market for all that long. The Torrent was discontinued with the closure of the Pontiac brand by General Motors, in 2009.