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The car experts at TheCarConnection.com studied road tests of the 2009 Pontiac G5 to compile this conclusive review. TheCarConnection.com's editors also drove the Pontiac G5 and added driving impressions and details to help you decide which reviews to trust where opinions differ and to provide you with the best car-buying information.
Every brand needs an entry-level product to attract younger and more frugal buyers. Pontiac rolled out the G5 in 2008 to fill that niche—replacing the former Sunfire—and it continues into the 2009 model year with a more fuel-efficient engine and new features that bring it more in line with its competitors.
The 2009 Pontiac G5 is only offered as a two-door coupe and in two trims: base and GT. Pontiac dropped the larger engine available on the GT in 2008, and for 2009, both trims share the 2.2-liter four-cylinder that delivers 155 horsepower, up 7 hp from last year. The engine pushes out more ponies and is more efficient as well, with the base version rated at 25 mpg city and 37 mpg on the highway. Expect mileage to be a bit less with the optional four-speed automatic available on both trims.
The 2009 Pontiac G5 shares its mechanical bits with the Chevrolet Cobalt Coupe, but the G5 is slightly more stylish and detailed. The long doors inherent to the coupe design can be tough to open in a tight parking situation, while entry to the backseats is obscured by a dangling seatbelt arrangement and awkward doorsills. The interior style isn’t altogether unpleasant, but the materials aren't high-quality. Tall drivers (possibly anyone over six feet) will find the G5 short on headroom and need to resort to a slightly reclined driving position, and most will deem the front seats flat and lacking support. The backseats are low and cramped.
Performance from the 2.2-liter Ecotec engine is actually a bright spot. It's surprisingly responsive and works well with either the standard five-speed manual or optional automatic, but a coarse, unrefined sound detracts from the experience. Aside from engine noise, compared to its bargain-basement peers, the G5 is relatively quiet inside.
The 2009 Pontiac G5 looks sporty, but its handling doesn’t match the styling either. The electric power steering is sluggish, light, and devoid of real feedback, yet it requires frequent adjustments to track straight on the highway.
Anti-lock brakes and traction control are optional on the base model. Side-curtain airbags are standard for 2009 on both models, in addition to OnStar. The Pontiac G5 gets mostly four-star crash ratings and a four-star rating for rollover resistance.
Both base and GT trim lines come standard with A/C, as well as power windows and door locks. XM Satellite Radio, remote start, and a sunroof are available. New standard equipment for 2009 includes OnStar and a passenger sensing system that complements the standard dual-stage front airbags. Pontiac makes some changes to popular optional equipment packages as well. There is a Sun & Sound package that includes an upgraded stereo with sunroof; a MYLINK package that brings together 16-inch wheels, ABS, cruise control, chrome exhaust, a leather steering wheel with audio controls, and Bluetooth; and a new appearance package.