GM Enhances Pontiac G6 for 2009

November 18, 2008
GM makes significant tweaks to its mid-size G6 lineup going into a rather bleak 2009 model year. Actually, GM says these changes are for the "2009.5" Pontiac G6, set to arrive at dealerships in January. Visual and powertrain enhancements are meant to bring the G6 more solidly into Pontiac's performance fold. Alas, remaining are some old-skool bits in the form of an old-tech four-speed automatic and a pair of pushrod V-6s (with origins in the Chevy Citation) that date back to the last American auto industry financial crisis.

For the first time, the 2.4-liter EcoTec is available in the G6 coupe. Paired with GM's excellent six-speed automatic, it manages an EPA-rated 33 mpg (highway), a respectable figure for a roughly 3,400-pound vehicle. Key to its efficiency is a modern overhead-cam design, variable-valve timing, and six forward ratios in its transmission, putting it neck and neck on the powertrain front with competitors like Honda Accord and Toyota Camry.

Visually, a more aggressive honeycomb grille, clear lens headlamps, body color mirrors, larger diameter exhaust tips, and 17-inch aluminum wheels (for 4-cylinder, six-speed auto G6s) are included in the changes meant to tie the G6 to sporty big brother G8. Inside, a revised center stack, new stereo, updated instrument cluster graphics (which are frustratingly small and illegible), and optional MY LINK enhanced communciation package (integrates audio, Bluetooth, XM Radio, and OnStar features) round out the new items.

But the question remains: Are these changes enough to ensure Pontiac's relevance, bolster its excitement promise, and keep it in the GM fold with threats of Chapter 11 re-organization looming? As we've said, Pontiac has been searching for its identity for decades, and with the current financial crisis of parent GM, it might be running out of time to find the magic formula that ensures sales success.--Colin Mathews

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