History hasn't been kind to car/truck miscegeny. Subaru's Brat was beloved in Vermont, but not many other places. Chevrolet's El Camino got its second wind with Gen Y hipsters but, c'mon -- if you had one the first time around, you were the butt of jokes at every school dance, every prom, and every stoplight.
Given the history of these funky half-breeds, it's fascinating to watch Pontiac go full steam ahead with a pickup truck based on its very accomplished G8 sedan, which GM will unveil at the New York auto show. Designed in Australia and essentially a version of the Holden "ute," the new sport truck is such a distinct piece for American drivers that Pontiac hasn't even named it yet. Instead, they're going to let consumers give the new 2010 model a name, via an Internet contest you can enter at a special “Name This Car” Web site. (Enter now: the contest winner will be announced April 15.)
GM says the new pickup “blurs the line between cars and trucks.” In fact, it neatly cleaves the line, right at the G8’s B-pillar. Instead of an extra pair of doors, the sport truck gets a longer wheelbase and a pickup bed that can carry about 1000 pounds of payload. Somewhat amazingly, the sport truck will also tow 3500 pounds. The bed comes with a composite liner, a tonneau cover, and nearly 43 cubic feet of storage space. Another 8.5 cubic feet is available behind the seats.
Pontiac says the G8 roots of the truck give it a coupe-like stance from the front, and while it resembles the G8 sedan, much of the sheetmetal (including the roof and doors) is unique. Still, performance levels are nearly equal to the new G8 GXP that will also be on display at the New York show: Pontiac promises 361 horsepower from its 6.0-liter V-8, and a 0-60 time of 5.4 seconds. A six-speed automatic is the sole gearbox.
G8: A Truck Headlines in New York
Pontiac says the sport truck also differs from the sedan in suspension and handling feel, a certainty since it rides on a wheelbase that’s four inches longer than the sedan. (Overall, it’s about six inches longer.)
Engineers added more than 60 new pieces to reinforce the pickup’s body, Pontiac says. A bigger front stabilizer gives it more beef, as does a retuned rear suspension. Like the G8 GXP, it rides on sporty summer tires (45-series treads, here) but a Sports Package includes 19-inchers with 40-series tires.
Otherwise the startling G8 sport truck carries much of the same gear as the G8 sedan. Standard features include side and curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes, cruise control, power windows/locks/mirrors, and Bluetooth, along with a 230-watt, six-disc stereo. Options will include leather seats with two-tone trim.
Stay with The Car Connection as we report from the New York auto show floor on the new Pontiac G8 sport truck and the rest of the world and North American debuts.