- Attractive contours
- Neutral handling
- Roomy interior
- Ample rear passenger accommodations
- Inconveniently located controls
- Non-optional all-wheel drive
- Bluetooth and navigation system
The G8 gives Pontiac real sport-sedan credentials and hits the mark with only minor faults.
This is the second year for the Pontiac G8 sedan. The G8 returns as a rear-wheel-drive vehicle with a five-speed transmission. Joining the V-6- and V-8-powered GT for 2009 is the new GXP. The GXP features a big, torquey 6.2-liter V-8 engine, as does the GT, but has a more extreme, sport-tuned package with a sport suspension, limited-slip differential, and added standard equipment.
Last year’s introduction of the G8 vaulted Pontiac to the top tier of performance-oriented big sedans. The G8 matches the likes of the Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300 on all points with a more sophisticated look and better performance. Handling, especially, is a strength for the G8; it can be hustled along twisty roads with a level of dynamic feedback and body control found in the best sport sedans from Germany. However, the G8 has no all-wheel-drive option, unlike some of the competition. Fuel economy isn’t stellar, at only 15 mpg (city) for the V-8 model.
With 256 horsepower, the V-6 model has quite acceptable performance, along with handling that’s just as sure-footed—and possibly better balanced—as the V-8 model. The only thing that’s missing is the deep thrum of the V-8.
The G8 is exceptionally roomy both in front and in the rear, while retaining a large trunk. Its look is distinctive, though not overly aggressive.
Unlike most sedans in its price range, the G8 does not offer an optional navigation system; however, almost every other luxury feature that’s expected in a sport sedan is available, including a wide range of standard features. Bluetooth hands-free connectivity is standard.
2009 Pontiac G8
The G8 is a more refined alternative to the Charger, with attractive exterior curves and a handsome interior cabin.
The combination of assertive and refined styling—with a lack of gimmickry or excessive trim and brightwork—is appreciated by reviewers.
Reviewers, from mainstream consumer guides to enthusiast Web sites, approve of the 2009 Pontiac G8’s polished design. Jalopnik calls it a “discreet and tasteful look. Not really a head-turner, but sharp and far more restrained than the [Dodge] Charger.” Cars.com agrees, saying the G8 “isn't going to snap necks with its looks like the Chrysler 300 did when it debuted, but the bulging hood can't be missed when seen in the rearview mirror.”
“The look is assertively Pontiac,” says USAToday about the G8’s more dramatic elements, such as the “Drooping snout, oversize grille, red dashboard lighting, gimmicky hood scoops.”
The G8’s interior’s is attractive, described by ConsumerGuide as having an “understated cabin decor” and “surfaces finished with quality materials and tastefully textured plastics.” ConsumerGuide also notes the plentiful interior storage, down to the “useful cubby in front of the shifter.” Popular Mechanics says that although the G8’s interior is nice, the cabin “certainly won’t be mistaken for a luxury sedan.”
According to the editors of the CarConnection.com, the G8’s interior is close to flawless when comparing it to other Pontiac products but would benefit from further refinement. GM made progress by choosing appropriate textures; however, the Australian-sourced plastic surrounding the radio and climate controls isn’t the best piece ever installed in a $30,000 sedan. The fonts and digital readouts look more 1980s than 2009. Still, it’s by far the best Pontiac available and a big step up inside over the Dodge Charger—even if its exterior isn’t as sharp as the Dodge/Chrysler twins.
2009 Pontiac G8
The $2,400 increase in price for the V-8 is minimal when considering the engine's performance boost over the V-6.
Regarding the G8’s performance, consensus says the vehicle combines American V-8 power with European road-holding mannerisms.
The 3.6-liter V-6, with its five-speed, automatic transmission and 7.8-second 0-60 acceleration is, according to Kelley Blue Book, “an energetic performer,” but it's the G8 GT’s 6.0-liter V-8 inspiring reviewers to talk in sportscar terms.
Edmunds.com says the V-8 version “can nail that acceleration benchmark in a scant 5.3 seconds—handily besting the more powerful and pricier HEMI-powered Dodge Charger SRT8,” while still getting 15 mpg city, 24 highway with the help of a standard six-speed automatic. Jalopnik notes its “muscular” sound and remarks its hefty torque is a plaything for your passing pleasure.
Cars.com highly approves of the V-8 version, saying it costs only $2,400 to move up to the more powerful engine. The Web site, however, wasn’t pleased about the lack of a manual transmission with the V-8. “You really have to use the manual-shift feature to get the most out of the engine in those important early moments,” says Cars.com editors.
Although none of the review resources TheCarConnection.com consults with had tested the new GXP model at the time this review was compiled, Pontiac promises a typically conservative 0-60 mph time of just 4.7 seconds from the model, which borrows the Chevy Corvette’s LS3 V-8 engine.
Complementing the engine’s performance is the vehicle’s suspension package. The 2009 Pontiac G8 rides on performance-tuned suspension with MacPherson front struts and a multilink rear end. The resulting ride and handling earn some lofty comparisons. “We don't throw BMW analogies around lightly,” Edmunds.com states, “but the G8's ability to make haste on twisting tarmac while coddling its passengers in commendable comfort is genuinely Bimmer-like, faltering only in the brake pedal's undue softness.” Cars.com says it’s the “best-performing sedan in the segment,” though Car and Driver comments the G8 takes a lead foot in stride: “the G8 is happy being fast-pitched into corners....[it] stays cool and in control.”
During TheCarConnection.com’s highway test drive, the G8’s burbling V-8 emitted the right amount of noise, reminding you of its great passing power. Tooling east on San Diego’s Interstate 8, however, a Dodge Charger R/T roared by and its sharp V-8 bark made the G8 seem docile. TheCarConnection.com also sampled a V-6 version, which was quick enough to step smartly in to commuter traffic. The V-6 version, at around $25,000, will be a bargain gem. For power freaks, the new 2009 Pontiac G8 GXP with a 402-hp engine is the ticket.
2009 Pontiac G8
Comfort & Quality
As USAToday says, “Buy it as a family car, enjoy it as a hot rod.”
The Pontiac G8 has plenty of interior space, and fit and finish are first-rate. “Obvious cheap-outs are absent,” notes Car and Driver. “The G8's overall refinement puts past Pontiacs to shame,” agrees Edmunds.com
The lack of a pass-through to the trunk is an issue many publications, including Car and Driver, brought up, but according to Jalopnik, “the back seat has ample room for any number of Kama Sutra positions.” Being a family-oriented car site, we can neither confirm nor deny that statement.
Cars.com adds that the G8 “holds its own” on rear-seat comfort and roominess compared to the Charger and Ford Taurus.
In terms of cargo room, the G8’s 17.5-cubic-foot trunk sits midway between the 16.2-cubic-foot trunk in the Charger and the 21.2-cubic-foot trunk in the Taurus.
Besides the use of some questionable interior plastics, only a few objections arise, and they regard the placement of certain controls. Due to Australia’s affinity with right-side-drive cars and because the Pontiac G8 is sold as a Holden in Australia, some controls are located universally to make manufacturing different versions easier. Cars.com glares at the placement of the window controls “dead center below the shifter on the center console.” They also gripe that the front-seat-adjusting knobs are “quite hard to rotate.” Kelley Blue Book notes the controls issue, while Edmunds.com just doesn't like the “'80s-style digital readouts for battery life and oil pressure, the cryptic control icons, and the lack of a redline indicator for the tachometer.”
2009 Pontiac G8
The 2009 Pontiac G8 sports all the latest safety gear, but it also does well in avoiding accidents in the first place.
The 2009 Pontiac G8 retains all the latest in safety equipment, but since the G8 is set to be a relatively low-volume model shoppers will have to do without crash-test results from either of the major U.S. programs. Both the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have yet to crash-test the 2009 G8.
Edmunds.com notes that standard equipment on the G8 includes dual front airbags, side and curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes, and stability and traction control. GM also offers OnStar, its in-car communication network, as standard.
USAToday criticizes the G8 because “there's no safety head restraint in the middle, but otherwise, the G8 has the standard selection of seatbelts and airbags.
2009 Pontiac G8
The 2009 Pontiac G8 lacks some of the features available on competing models.
Because of the G8’s Australian heritage, certain technological options expected in the U.S. market aren’t available. Otherwise, the G8 is a formidably equipped sedan.
Features on every G8 are substantial. Even standard models arrive from the factory with power front seats; a rear spoiler; 18-inch wheels; an AM/FM/CD audio system with an auxiliary jack for iPods and other MP3 players; and air conditioning. Performance tires come standard on V-8 versions, and Edmunds.com notes the use of a dual-zone climate control and a premium Blaupunkt audio system. Kelley Blue Book highlights the G8’s steering-wheel audio controls and trip computer, while Cars.com adds that options include a sunroof, leather seats, and other features in reasonably priced packages.
A navigation system is the most glaring omission from the options list, even though the center stack seems designed for it and the premium sound system comes with a 6.5-inch display. Instead, GM sells its “turn-by-turn” navigation service as a part of its OnStar system. With this system, you press a button to talk with an operator who sends recorded directions directly to your car. Jalopnik says this “more than makes up” for the lack of a built-in nav, but Car and Driver contends that the setup is “not for folks with privacy paranoia,” and recommends a trip to an aftermarket electronics shop. As users of a portable navigation system (a $300 bargain compared to the usual $2,000 navigation system prices charged by car companies), TheCarConnection.com’s editors agree wholeheartedly.