2009 Pontiac G6 Review

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Trevor Wild Trevor Wild Author
June 2, 2009

The 2009 Pontiac G6 models have appealing styling inside and out, but they fail to wow in most other respects.

TheCarConnection.com's editors have driven all three body styles of the Pontiac G6 line in order to give you an expert opinion. The discerning experts at TheCarConnection.com have also scanned available road tests on the new Pontiac G6 to produce this conclusive review and help you find the truth where other reviews might differ.

Pontiac's G6 model line includes three different body styles: a coupe, a convertible, and a roomy sedan. The G6 Convertible ranks as one of the least expensive vehicles to offer a retractable hardtop arrangement—essentially bringing the same open-air enjoyment as a soft top but a coupe-like seal from the elements with the top up. For 2009, the G6 line gets updated equipment and powertrain improvements that help boost fuel efficiency.

Depending on the body style and the trim, the 2009 Pontiac G6 can cover a wide range of uses, from economical commuter to performance-oriented sport sedan. The 2009 Pontiac base model G6 sedan with the Sport Package 1 features a new 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine and six-speed automatic transmission combination. The new powerplant is rated at an EPA-estimated 22 mpg in the city and 33 on the highway.

Throughout the rest of the range, there’s a somewhat confusing array of V-6 engines. For sedans and coupes, the GT gets a 219-horsepower, 3.5-liter, while the 252-horsepower, 3.6-liter V-6 moves the GXP. The two engines carry similar fuel economy estimates of 17 mpg city, 26 mpg highway but are very different in character; the GT’s engine is torquey and coarse-sounding, while the GXP’s motor is strong and smooth in comparison. The base 2009 Pontiac G6 Convertible GT continues to be propelled by a 217-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 engine. The optional 3.9-liter V-6 is rated at 222 horsepower and 238 pound-feet of torque, and it's mated to a four-speed automatic transmission with a manual shift mode. In either case, the convertible’s powertrain feels coarse and unsophisticated, with more torque steer than most other front-drivers.

Review continues below

The 2009 Pontiac G6 Coupe drives quite well, but the experience is unremarkable. While the coupe doesn't have the electric power steering formerly offered—rather, it has a better hydraulic system—the G6 still doesn't steer or handle as well as other cars in its class. The ride is quite firm and can be choppy on pockmarked pavement, with no apparent handling advantage.

The interior of the 2009 Pontiac G6 sedan and coupe has an attractive design, but the quality of the materials is a bit disappointing, with too many glossy or hard plastics that look like they might scratch easily. The G6 Sedan’s seating is ample for five, with an especially spacious backseat.

The chief attraction in the 2009 Pontiac G6 Convertible is, of course, its folding hardtop. Pontiac says the top stows itself at the push of a button in about 30 seconds. That sizable roof, when down, is also the reason there's not much luggage space in the trunk.

The Pontiac G6 coupe and sedan are mid-pack in safety, relative to their rivals, while the Convertible hasn’t done as well in crash tests. The coupe and sedan have all the basics in terms of safety equipment; front side and side curtain airbags are standard, along with anti-lock brakes. Side airbags are standard on the 2009 Pontiac G6 Convertible, which also includes anti-lock brakes and electronic stability control. The G6 hardtops perform well in crash tests, with four- and five-star results for frontal impact protection and five-star results for side impact, though the IIHS gives a Marginal rating in the seat-based rear-impact test. The 2009 Pontiac G6 Convertible has only been tested by the insurance-industry-affiliated IIHS, and it demonstrated occupant protection that lags that of other convertibles.

Other 2009 enhancements to the G6 lineup for 2009 include XM Satellite Radio as standard equipment on all G6 models, a standard spoiler on the GT model, and a standard remote starter for GT and GXP models.

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2009 Pontiac G6

Styling

The 2009 Pontiac G6 coupe and sedan offer solid styling without breaking the bank, but the jury is out on the Convertible.

The styling of the Pontiac G6 line of vehicles, which stepped in to replace the old Pontiac Grand Ams, has proved to be a critical and commercial success. The 2009 Pontiac G6 Convertible manages to maintain the general appearance of the 2009 Pontiac G6 Coupe, with the added benefit of the hardtop convertible roof.

The exterior of the 2009 Pontiac G6 Convertible represents a huge visual improvement over previous Pontiac cruisers. Car and Driver reports that "the G6 convertible looks much like the G6 coupe, and since styling is the coupe's strongest suit, this is not a bad thing." Cars.com reviewers happen to disagree, saying that the Pontiac G6 Convertible shares "the same uneasy shape as the G6 coupe," but most testers give positive reviews to this 2009 Pontiac.

The exterior styling on the 2009 Pontiac G6 Coupe is decidedly performance-oriented, reflecting Pontiac's renewed emphasis on building fun-to-drive vehicles. Kelley Blue Book considers the G6 Pontiac Coupe both "sleek" and "sophisticated," and notes that Pontiac targets "import buyers who want a bit more flair but don't want to break the budget." The 2009 Pontiac G6 sedan features Pontiac's low, wide styling, and reviews read by TheCarConnection.com indicate that it works quite well. Kelley Blue Book proclaims that the "exterior styling is a giant leap forward for Pontiac," and some reviewers there think it's "one of the most attractive cars the domestic manufacturers have ever delivered."

Sitting down inside this 2009 Pontiac sedan, you can expect to find a handsome and well-planned interior. Cars.com reviewers list the "sporty controls and racing-style gauges with red LED backlighting" among their favorite interior styling touches, while Edmunds praises the "attractive and brightly ringed cluster" that houses the gauges.

Reviewers at Cars.com approve of the "sporty controls and racing-style gauges with red LED backlighting," which are surrounded with "brushed metal accents and chrome trim," of the G6 Coupe. The typically conservative reviewers at ConsumerGuide find little to fault with the interior controls of the 2009 Pontiac G6, saying that the "audio and climate controls are easy to reach and use."

The Convertible scores moderately well with reviewers, thanks to a clean layout. ConsumerGuide says that "the audio and climate controls are easy to reach and use," and Cars.com testers add, "the recessed red gauges are contemporary and sporty." Edmunds also approves of the "chrome and faux metal accents" that serve to "brighten things up inside."

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2009 Pontiac G6

Performance

The performance of the 2009 Pontiac G6 Convertible is forgettable, and the coupes and sedans are competent though not inspiring, especially when it comes to handling.

The 2009 Pontiac base model G6 with the Sport Package 1 features a new 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine and six-speed automatic transmission combination. The new powerplant is rated at an EPA-estimated 22 mpg in the city and 33 on the highway.

The 2009 Pontiac G6 Coupe offers two engines; Edmunds describes "a 3.5-liter V6 putting out 219 horses and 210 lb-ft of torque" on the GT and notes "performance-driven GXP models are equipped with a 3.6-liter V6 that generates 252 hp and 251 lb-ft of torque." Kelley Blue Book testers find that while "the GT's base 3.5-liter engine doesn't inspire performance driving," it is wholly "adequate for quick jaunts up freeway entrance ramps and around town trips and commutes."

The 2009 Pontiac G6 Sedan can be equipped with one of three engine choices, based on the trim level. Cars.com reviewers say that "the base sedan holds a 164-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder" engine, as does the Value Leader, "while GXP editions feature a 252-hp, 3.6-liter V-6." Between the two lies a "219-hp, 3.5-liter V-6" in the Pontiac G6 GT models, according to Cars.com. Edmunds notes that "the fuel-efficient 3.5-liter V6 delivers plenty of low-end torque for quick acceleration and easy passing," and the "GXP offers the most performance and sophistication for enthusiasts."

The 2009 Pontiac G6 Convertible is available with a choice of two V-6 engines bearing similar power ratings. Edmunds says the standard engine is a "3.5-liter V6" that offers "217 hp and 217 lb-ft of torque," and for 2009, Pontiac also provides an "optional 3.9-liter V6" that checks in with "222 horses and 238 lb-ft of torque." MotherProof testers remark that the 3.9-liter engine "has enough juice to inject some fun, but not so much that it's scary."

Cars.com states that the G6 Pontiac offers only a "very basic four-speed automatic" on the convertible. Kelley Blue Book describes this transmission as a "four-speed automatic" with the 2.4-liter and 3.5-liter engines, and the Pontiac G6 GXP pairs a "six-speed automatic transmission" with its V-6. The driving enthusiasts at Motor Trend are much harsher on the Pontiac G6 Coupe GXP's transmission, finding it "goes from buttery smooth to belligerently spasmodic" when driven hard.

Fuel economy from the V-6 models of the 2009 Pontiac G6 is acceptable, but there are certainly thriftier options in the class. The EPA estimates that this 2009 Pontiac in GT Coupe trim will return 18 mpg city and 29 mpg highway, while the bigger 3.6-liter on the GXP offers 17/26 mpg. The combined impact on fuel economy of the convertible's increased weight and four-speed transmission are pretty significant on the 2009 Pontiac G6 Convertible, especially when compared to its G6 siblings. The EPA estimates that the 3.5-liter engine will return 17 mpg city and 26 mpg highway. For the higher-displacement engine, Edmunds reports that the "optional V6 is thirsty, with a 15 mpg city/22 mpg highway rating."

One of the most common complaints in reviews read by TheCarConnection.com concerns the handling in this 2009 Pontiac. ConsumerGuide reviewers mention the steering "feels numb on the whole," though Edmunds adds that "the hydraulic power steering included on GT and GXP models (and optional on the standard G6) is much more communicative." In TheCarConnection.com’s opinion, the 2009 Pontiac G6 Coupe drives quite well, but the experience is unremarkable. Edmunds calls the G6 Convertible an "adequate handler," but mentions "uneven city streets can cause the G6 to hop and float the way cars from the 1970s once did."

6

2009 Pontiac G6

Comfort & Quality

All three models of the 2009 Pontiac G6 offer comfortable seating, but their interiors feel cut-rate in quality.

The 2009 Pontiac G6 Sedan "can seat up to five," according to Cars.com, and it does so with relatively high levels of comfort. Edmunds testers find that the 2009 Pontiac G6 features "highly styled seats" up front with "prominent side bolstering to keep you in place during hard cornering and aggressive maneuvers." The 2009 Pontiac G6 Coupe has, according to Cars.com, "seating for four," with those in the front enjoying somewhat more room. In back, Edmunds reviewers observe "plenty of room provided by the car's long wheelbase, which results in generous rear-seat accommodations" for the Pontiac G6. The Convertible has room for four occupants, and The Auto Channel reports, "to Pontiac's credit, no attempt was made to cram a third person in the rear, so accommodations are twin bucket seats."

ConsumerGuide says the "convertible trunk volume shrinks to just 2.2” cubic feet with the top stowed, and Edmunds states that, top up, trunk space is a "tight 12.6" cubic feet inside the G6 Pontiac. Cars.com reports that "the sedan's trunk measures 14 cubic feet," which is enough for most errands and daily driving needs. Inside the cabin of the Coupe, "interior storage is just OK," remarks ConsumerGuide.

Most reviews read by TheCarConnection.com reference the cabin materials among the least desirable aspects of this 2009 Pontiac. ConsumerGuide finds "the cabin has an abundance of hard plastic surfaces, with overall material quality that significantly trails those of most midsize rivals."

Edmunds characterizes the materials as "a notch or two below class standards." ConsumerGuide says that "overall material quality" in the G6 Pontiac Convertible "significantly trails those of most midsize rivals." Several reviewers bring up another drawback to the interior design in the Convertible: the hardtop convertible's poorly placed and difficult-to-operate controls for the top.

8

2009 Pontiac G6

Safety

The 2009 Pontiac G6 coupe and sedan have decent crash-test scores and, in the GXP, a comprehensive set of safety features. The same is not true for the G6 Convertible.

In both government and industry crash tests, the 2009 Pontiac G6 Sedan scores quite well, but not as high as some of its rivals. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the federal agency responsible for issuing the government's crash-test ratings, awards the Pontiac G6 a full five stars for frontal driver impact and side impacts. They also give the 2009 Pontiac G6 four out of five stars for frontal passenger-side impact protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) subjects the Pontiac G6 to its own crash tests and awards similar results. The Pontiac G6 earns the IIHS's highest rating, "good," for frontal offset impacts, and the second-highest rating of "acceptable" for side impacts. After subjecting the two-door G6 Pontiac Coupe to its full battery of crash tests, NHTSA awards it five stars for front driver, side driver, and side passenger impacts, along with four out of five stars for front passenger impacts. While these ratings are all commendable, the IIHS deems the G6 Pontiac Coupe worthy of just an "acceptable" rating in side impacts.

The Convertible fares worse, with the IIHS giving it a rating of "acceptable" for frontal offset tests but "marginal" for side impacts. As part of the explanation for the "marginal" rating, the IIHS says that on the driver's side, "the dummy's head was hit by the window sill and the side torso airbag, producing high head and neck injury measures."

Aside from the crash-test results, the 2009 Pontiac G6 Convertible offers a pretty typical assortment of safety features. Edmunds says these include "standard front seat-mounted side-impact airbags" and "four-wheel disc brakes with ABS."

7

2009 Pontiac G6

Features

Just like the rest of the car, the features list on the 2009 Pontiac G6 is pretty middle-of-the-road.

The standard features on the 2009 Pontiac G6 Coupe vary slightly between the GT and GXP trims, but both come decently equipped. J.D. Power notes, for audiophiles, the G6 Pontiac offers "a Monsoon high-performance 8-speaker sound system with high-mounted tweeters and sub-woofer" standard on both trims, and this setup receives praise in reviews read by TheCarConnection.com.

The 2009 Pontiac G6 Sedan comes well-appointed both inside and out. ConsumerGuide reports that some of the standard equipment on the Value Leader includes "air conditioning, OnStar assistance system w/one-year service," along with power accessories, an "AM/FM/CD player, digital-media player connection," and "automatic headlights." Moving up to the Pontiac G6 Sedan in GT trim brings "cruise control, XM Satellite Radio, Monsoon sound system," and "fog lamps," according to Kelley Blue Book, who also says that the Pontiac G6 GXP adds a "power driver's seat."

On the Convertible, Kelley Blue Book also points to the "Monsoon sound system." ConsumerGuide adds that "satellite radio" and an "AM/FM radio w/in-dash 6-disc CD changer" come standard on this 2009 Pontiac. Cars.com notes that the "controls are confusing" for the high-end Monsoon sound system.

ConsumerGuide says the major packages are the Preferred Package, which incorporates "remote engine start, leather-wrapped steering wheel w/radio controls," and "power-adjustable pedals," and for 2009, Pontiac provides a Premium Package that includes "leather upholstery, heated front seats," and a "6-way power driver seat." The other major features package is the Sun and Sound bundle, which tacks on what Car and Driver describes as a "giant, four-pane sunroof" and a six-disc CD changer.

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6.8
Overall
Expert Rating
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Styling 7.0
Performance 6.0
Comfort & Quality 6.0
Safety 8.0
Features 7.0
Fuel Economy N/A
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