2009 Pontiac G6: Final Drive

December 29, 2009

A mid-year makeover means a thriftier Pontiac mid-size G6 coupe; the 2.4-liter, 169-hp, four-cylinder version now has a six-speed automatic transmission. The improved EPA numbers: 22 mpg city and 33 highway. The trip computer said 27; I measured 22.

Top gear is tall overdrive. The engine revs only 1,800 rpm at 60 mph--an economy-car bias. The result: it sounds like a city-street sweeper, which is tiring. However, a "manumatic" feature called TapSelect lets you motor in fifth rather than sixth gear. In fifth, the engine is responsive. To use this feature, you must move the center console's lever into "M," slide it toward the right, then push it forward to upshift or rearward to downshift. Two steering wheel-mounted paddles aid gear selection; they're awkward.

In "D," acceleration is leisurely; the engine must first rev considerably; peak hp (6,400 rpm) and maximum torque (160 lb-ft @ 4,500 rpm). In addition, the transmission sometimes lets the engine rev too high; it also hunts.

There's an optional V-6 with sportier gearing.

Other than the low-rpm drone, the G6 moves with well-controlled noise, vibration and harshness. It's much better than earlier GM four-bangers; the mill has balance shafts; its transmission is carefully mounted.

This coupe's wedge styling is dashing but limits visibility and restricts rear seat use. The interior is comprised of some soft-touch plastics and leather trimmed seats. A naked trunk lid and parcel shelf underside threaten luggage. Controls and displays are effective--daylight overwhelms some digits. A rattling dome light punctuated bumps that got past the absorbent suspension. Wind rush is noticeable.

Chose a Wisconsin secondary road and the G6 tames off-camber dips. However, the electric power steering lacks feedback.

And there's OnStar for voice-activated, hands-free calling plus turn-by-turn audio directions. Both worked well with good voice recognition and an attentive call center.

Overall, the economical G6 offers flash that doesn't guzzle gas. Cost: $23,000 for starters $27,000 as tested.

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