- New GXP edition
- Power from 3.6-liter V-6
- Improved ride of base models
- Lots of interior room
- Easy-to-use controls
- Cheap-feeling interior
- Flexible chassis leads to squeaks
- Poor driving feel for base model
The 2008 Pontiac Torrent offers good room and a great new GXP edition, but other choices in the segment are more refined and more modern.
The 2008 Pontiac Torrent is an older crossover with good room, but some shortcomings keep it from being a top choice in the segment.
However, properly equipped, the 2008 Pontiac Torrent has some good qualities. The five-passenger Torrent SUV/crossover can finally live up to its name, once it becomes a GXP edition. The GXP package on the 2008 Pontiac Torrent is built around a dual-overhead-cam 3.6-liter V-6 (sourced from the Cadillac CTS) that's massively more powerful than the 3.4-liter V-6 that's been the standard Torrent powerplant since the model's 2006 introduction. The new engine produces 264 horsepower, a great leap forward of nearly 80 hp over the 3.4's not-so-torrential 185 hp rating. The GXP package (available in front- and all-wheel drive) also includes a standard six-speed automatic transmission with "tap up, tap down" manual shift control, polished 18-inch rims with 50-series Goodyear Eagle RS-A performance tires, a unique hood with twin pressed-in "aero scoops," dual exhaust tips jutting out of the rear valance, and projector-style fog lamps leading the way up front. The suspension's been lowered and tuned to be firmer, too. GM's StabiliTrak integrated electronic traction/stability control system is also included, as are heated front seats, a performance-themed gauge cluster, and GXP-specific exterior and interior trim.
So what kind of performance does the 2008 Pontiac Torrent GXP deliver? Zero to 60 is now reachable in about 6.9 seconds with the front-drive version. All-wheel-drive versions are maybe a tenth or so slower. Either way, this is a huge improvement over the 3.4-liter Torrent, which needs closer to 10 seconds to make the same run. There is a price to be paid for this performance edge, however. This is not the SUV to think about taking off-road. Even a little. The base version is considerably less inspiring, with some noticeable body flex and sluggish steering.
In more introverted matters, the Torrent is a well-sized, well-organized package, particularly if you need the family-friendly versatility. Though it doesn't offer a third-row seat, the Torrent is extremely roomy, even in the backseat (it's comfortable enough for six-foot-tall passengers). The roominess extends to the cargo area, which is almost big enough to handle another person at 35 cubic feet. The controls for the A/C system and radio are simple, effective rotary-style knobs that can be operated by feel without having to look at them as you drive. The dash layout is swell, too, though not as rich and finished-looking as some of GM's newer models such as the new Chevy Malibu and the absolutely gorgeous Buick Enclave. There's still a bit too much rhino-hard black plastic that detracts from the quality feel a $30,000 vehicle ought to convey in 2008.