2008 Pontiac G6 Review

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The Car Connection
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The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
July 22, 2008

The 2008 Pontiac G6 has appealing styling inside and out, but it fails to wow in other respects.

In putting together this comprehensive review covering the 2008 Pontiac G6 sedan, the automotive experts at TheCarConnection.com turned to a number of different review sources. Then they incorporated their firsthand experiences driving the G6 sedan to help make this review of use to smart shoppers.

Pontiac's front-wheel-drive, mid-size G6 sedan has a longer wheelbase than the larger Grand Prix and nearly as much cabin space.

Several different models of the 2008 Pontiac G6 cover a range of purposes, from economical commuter to performance-oriented sport sedan. Base sedans are powered by a 2.4-liter, 164-horsepower four-cylinder engine and four-speed automatic transmission. The G6 GT sedan uses a 3.5-liter V-6 with 219 hp, teamed to a standard four-speed automatic with manual shift control. A new sporty GXP variant appears for 2008. The GXP initials in this case mean a 3.6-liter V-6 engine with 252 hp and 251 pound-feet of torque, twinned to a six-speed automatic transmission.

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The 2008 Pontiac G6 GXP also wears new rocker moldings, restyled front and rear fascias, and dual exhaust openings. Fog lamps and 18-inch wheels are also in the package; later on, GM plans to offer a special "Street Edition" with hood scoops and a spoiler.

The base four-cylinder engine has just adequate acceleration and is quite coarse when pushed, but it delivers good fuel economy (30 mpg highway). The 3.5-liter is very responsive, though it can also be coarse and loud, while the 3.6-liter in the 2008 Pontiac G6 GXP has a different personality; it's a more modern overhead-cam design and is tuned for especially strong passing power. The six-speed in the GXP is also a big improvement over the four-speed, with smooth shifts and relaxed cruising.

Four-cylinder 2008 Pontiac G6 models come with an electric power steering system that's inferior in feel to the hydraulic system offered on the V-6. In either model, the steering lacks the precision of other cars in its class, while the ride is quite firm and can be choppy on pockmarked pavement.

The 2008 Pontiac G6 sedan's interior has an attractive design, but the quality of the materials is still a bit disappointing, with too many glossy or hard plastics that look like they might scratch easily. The G6's seating is ample for five, with an especially spacious backseat.

A so-called Value Leader model of the G6 offers an especially low price but still has standard air conditioning, power accessories, and a six-speaker sound system. The base 2008 Pontiac G6 gets larger wheels, cruise control, and keyless entry, while the GT upgrades significantly to the V-6, cast aluminum wheels, fog lamps, steering-wheel-mounted controls, and a premium Monsoon sound system. OnStar is also standard across the lineup, as are auxiliary audio jacks for iPods/MP3 players. XM Satellite Radio is standard on GT models. Standout options include power leather seats, power-adjustable pedals, and remote start. A Bluetooth hands-free interface is not available.

The 2008 Pontiac G6 has garnered mixed crash-test results, including respectable four- and five-star ratings in frontal protection and top five-star ratings in side impact from the federal government, along with less impressive "acceptable" and "marginal" ratings. Side thorax airbags and side curtain airbags are standard on the G6, along with anti-lock brakes. Electronic stability control is included in the GXP but not available on the other models.

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2008 Pontiac G6

Styling

The 2008 Pontiac G6 sedan already makes a statement without having to resort to the racy, and possibly overdone, additions of the Street Package.

When Pontiac set out to redesign the Grand Am, the 2008 Pontiac G6's predecessor, they knew they had to do something about the forgettable exterior styling. Thus, they unveiled the much sportier, and much more handsome, Pontiac G6 for 2005, and the styling remains largely unchanged for this 2008 Pontiac.

The 2008 Pontiac G6 sedan features Pontiac's low, wide-based styling, and reviews read by TheCarConnection.com indicate that it works quite well. Kelley Blue Book reviewers write 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." Cars.com says that the Pontiac G6's exterior is characterized by "a wedge-shaped profile" that incorporates "wraparound headlights and triangular wraparound taillamps," along with "Pontiac's signature twin-port grille." The 2008 Pontiac G6 sedan is available in four different trim levels, but the exterior differences are minor. Edmunds finds that the low-cost Pontiac "G6 Value Leader sedan comes with 16-inch wheels," while the base and GT trims offer "17-inch alloy wheels," and the top-of-the-line GXPs "further upgrade to 18-inch chromed wheels [and] a rear spoiler." Also available on the 2008 Pontiac G6 sedan is a Street Edition Package, which ConsumerGuide notes will add a "unique hood w/scoops" and a unique "rear spoiler" to the GXP.

Sitting down inside this 2008 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. ConsumerGuide reviewers add, "the audio and climate controls are easy to reach and use." Car and Driver testers write that they are "aesthetically pleased by the two-tone beige-and-black ambience" of their 2008 Pontiac G6 sedan.

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2008 Pontiac G6

Performance

The V-6 engines offer some driving enjoyment on the 2008 Pontiac G6, but its overall handling feel is less sharp than accommodating.

The 2008 Pontiac G6 offers a variety of driving experiences depending upon which engine it is outfitted with, but overall performance isn't exceptional—though GXP versions have smoother power and handling.

The 2008 Pontiac G6 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." In 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." None of those reviewers had a chance to drive a four-cylinder, but in previous test drives, TheCarConnection.com’s editors felt the base four-cylinder engine has just adequate acceleration and is quite coarse when pushed, though it delivers good fuel economy (30 mpg highway).

In order to simplify both manufacturing and purchasing, Pontiac offers just one transmission for each engine type on the 2008 Pontiac G6. Kelley Blue Book describes this transmission as a "four-speed automatic" with the 2.4-liter and 3.5-liter engines, while the Pontiac G6 GXP pairs a "six-speed automatic transmission" with its V-6. The four-speed is panned in reviews, with Car and Driver claiming that its "gearing gaps are canyonlike," though it "doesn't shy away from revving its partner to successive 5800-rpm shifts" if you "mash the throttle." Kelley Blue Book describes the performance of the four-speed auto as "decidedly underwhelming." On the other hand, the six-speed auto receives much more positive reviews, with Kelley Blue Book saying that the Pontiac "G6 feels its most athletic" with this transmission. ConsumerGuide adds that the transmission will "downshift readily for impressive passing response."

For those not interested in the power that the V-6 engines offer, the four-cylinder provides a thrifty alternative. The EPA estimates that the 2.4-liter engine on the lower-trim Pontiac G6s will get 22 mpg city and 30 mpg on the highway. This compares with EPA estimates of 18/29 mpg for the 3.5-liter engine and 17/26 mpg on the six-speed-equipped 3.6-liter. Edmunds reviewers feel that these numbers are "mostly on par for the midsize segment."

One of the most common complaints in reviews read by TheCarConnection.com arises when talking about handling in this 2008 Pontiac. ConsumerGuide reviewers mention that 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." Cars.com writes that overall "handling is on the ordinary side," and Car and Driver says that the 2008 Pontiac G6 feels "more floaty than sporty." In terms of ride quality, the Pontiac G6 offers a more positive experience, with Car and Driver testers finding that the "forgiving suspension" delivers a "supple, comfortable ride, even over the ragged, uneven roads outside Ann Arbor's city limits." Finally, ConsumerGuide calls the braking on the 2008 Pontiac G6 "slightly dull."

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2008 Pontiac G6

Comfort & Quality

The comfortable front seats on the 2008 Pontiac G6 score well, but trim quality cuts its rating.

The 2008 Pontiac G6 is marked by a large interior and marred by midgrade plastics.

The 2008 Pontiac G6 "can seat up to five," according to Cars.com, and it does so with relatively high levels of comfort. Edmunds testers find that the 2008 Pontiac G6 features "highly styled seats" up front with "prominent side bolstering to keep you in place during hard cornering and aggressive maneuvers." ConsumerGuide adds that the front of the Pontiac G6 provides "good headroom and legroom," though they feel that "the seats are softer than in many rivals and short on long-distance support." The rear passenger area "features a seat cushion too flat and short" on the bench seats, according to Car and Driver. In terms of room, though, Kelley Blue Book says that the backseat offers "surprisingly generous legroom," although Cars.com notes "headroom is horrible."

Storage space is adequate on the 2008 Pontiac G6, thanks to a moderately sized trunk and some interior storage spaces. ConsumerGuide laments that the "narrow trunk has a small opening and tall liftover," but they note that the Pontiac G6 sedan has "rear seatbacks that fold almost flat and have hard plastic backs" to allow for greatly increased storage space. Cars.com finds that "the sedan's trunk measures 14 cubic feet," which is enough for most errands and daily driving needs. Inside the cabin, ConsumerGuide claims "interior storage is just OK."

It's easy to single out the one area of the Pontiac G6 that could use the most improvement: materials quality. Most reviews read by TheCarConnection.com reference the cabin materials as one of the least desirable aspects of this 2008 Pontiac. ConsumerGuide finds that "the cabin has an abundance of hard plastic surfaces, with overall material quality that significantly trails those of most midsize rivals." Edmunds adds that "the quality of materials on the dash and console is a notch or two below class standards," and not even the high-end GXP trim does much to address these shortcomings.

Noise levels within the 2008 Pontiac G6 are well managed by the car's sound-deadening materials, though Car and Driver notes that the engine can emit "a resonance that grates as the tach creeps skyward." Other than that, however, ConsumerGuide says "suppression of road and wind noise are not up to Accord/Camry standards but are acceptable."

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2008 Pontiac G6

Safety

Good safety ratings and middle-of-the-road safety features make the 2008 Pontiac G6 an acceptably safe family sedan.

The 2008 Pontiac G6 lineup offers varying degrees of crash safety, but the sedan version of the G6 holds up fairly well.

In both government and industry crash tests, the 2008 Pontiac G6 scores above average. 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 2008 Pontiac G6 four out of five stars for frontal passenger-side impact protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) subjected the Pontiac G6 to its own crash tests and awarded similar results. The Pontiac G6 earned the IIHS's highest rating, "good," for frontal offset impacts, and the second-highest rating of "acceptable" for side impacts.

In addition to its strong test results, this 2008 Pontiac comes with several key features that improve overall safety. Cars.com writes that "all-disc antilock brakes and traction control are now standard on all models," while "an electronic stability system is optional on GT models and standard on GXP sedans." Edmunds adds that for 2008, Pontiac offers "full-length head-curtain and front side-impact airbags" as standard.

One design aspect of the 2008 Pontiac G6 that hurts overall safety, as well as daily drivability, is driver visibility. ConsumerGuide reviewers find that "vision astern is blocked by tall headrests, to the sides and front corners by thick roof pillars" on the 2008 Pontiac G6.

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2008 Pontiac G6

Features

Just like the rest of the car, the features list on the 2008 Pontiac G6 is pretty middle-of-the-road.

The 2008 Pontiac G6 sedan boasts a few noteworthy standard features, as well as several desirable options, but the lack of a Bluetooth-compatible system on the Pontiac G6 is unfortunate.

The 2008 Pontiac G6 comes well-appointed as standard both inside and out. ConsumerGuide writes 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 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."

When it comes to optional features, they are mostly found in packages on this 2008 Pontiac. ConsumerGuide says that some of the major packages are the Preferred Package, which incorporates "remote engine start, leather-wrapped steering wheel w/radio controls," and "power-adjustable pedals," while for 2008, 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. An optional Monsoon sound system also comes with that package on the 2008 Pontiac G6, but Cars.com says that its "controls are confusing."

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7.4
Overall
Expert Rating
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Styling 8
Performance 7
Comfort & Quality 7
Safety 8
Features 7
Fuel Economy N/A
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