2009 Pontiac Torrent Review

Consumer Reviews
0 Reviews
The Car Connection
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Trevor Wild Trevor Wild Author
March 15, 2009

Buying tip

If you’re on a budget and are only considering the base model of the Torrent, take some competing models for a drive. TheCarConnection.com

While the GXP edition of 2009 Pontiac Torrent is the pick of the line, plenty of other vehicles in the segment are more refined and more modern.

TheCarConnection.com's editors drove the new Pontiac Torrent in order to provide you with an expert opinion. TheCarConnection.com then researched available road tests on the 2009 Pontiac Torrent to produce this conclusive review that will help you make the best decision.

Certain shortcomings keep the 2009 Pontiac Torrent from claiming the top spot in its segment, but its spacious cabin remains a strong attraction.

Styling is another potential reason that shoppers might be drawn to the 2009 Pontiac Torrent; its styling is somewhat slab-sided, and the stubby front end might not appeal to everyone, but there’s no denying that it takes its own direction on the exterior.

The five-passenger Torrent features a standard 185-horsepower, 3.4-liter V-6, but it’s the 264-hp, 3.6-liter DOHC V-6 in the GXP edition that really allows the Torrent to shine. 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. The 2009 Pontiac Torrent GXP reaches 60 mph from zero in about 6.9 seconds with the front-drive version.

Review continues below

The base version of the 2009 Pontiac Torrent is considerably less inspiring, with numb, sluggish steering, though the base versions of the Torrent ride quite well. Despite that, occupants are likely to hear more creaks and groans than is typical for vehicles in this class. Needless to say, the Torrent is not a rugged off-road SUV.

The interior of the Pontiac Torrent is excellent in design but poor in execution. It’s spacious, well organized, versatile, and family-friendly; there is no third-row seat, but the Torrent is extremely roomy, even in the backseat (it's comfortable enough for six-foot-tall passengers). 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. That’s about where the compliments end; 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 2009, and assembly quality in the Torrents we’ve seen hasn’t been perfect.

Base versions of the 2009 Pontiac Torrent come with a bit more than is expected from a small SUV, such as standard keyless entry and cruise control, plus a six-speaker sound system with iPod interface. The GXP also includes heated front seats, a performance-themed gauge cluster, and GXP-specific exterior and interior trim.

Upgrades for 2009 include XM Satellite Radio and head-curtain side-impact airbags with rollover-protection sensors, both of which are standard on all models. Bluetooth connectivity is now available as an option on the Pontiac Torrent.


2009 Pontiac Torrent


Visibly Pontiac, the 2009 Torrent offers unexciting exterior styling and an attractively furnished interior.

TheCarConnection.com notes that although the design of the 2009 Pontiac Torrent may be a dated, it features a few improvements that help keep it young and somewhat sporty-looking.

An almost copy of the Chevrolet Equinox, the 2009 Pontiac Torrent features some distinct styling cues that help it stand out. MSN Autos says the Torrent “looks sportier than the Equinox”; in fact, it's “sporty enough for a roomy SUV, although it can't match the appearance of something like the Infiniti FX sport-utility vehicle, which emphasizes sport over utility.” Kelley Blue Book advises "if you're looking for an SUV that stands out from the pack, the Pontiac Torrent's attractive shape barely pokes its head past the average mark." Cars.com notes "the Torrent's twin-port grille is traditional Pontiac," and goes on to describe the Torrent’s classic crossover shape: “Headlights that wrap into the front fenders flank the grille, below which is a wide air intake. The front and rear overhangs are short, and the fenders are flared. Fog lamps and front and rear skid plates are standard.”

With its larger 18-inch wheels and lower stance, the GXP model has a somewhat sportier demeanor. "Some chrome from the company parts bin, including door handles and dual exhaust tips, round out the [GXP] package," reports Automobile Magazine. They also note "the absence of a roof rack gives the 2009 Pontiac Torrent GXP a smoother design flow compared to the standard model."

The Torrent’s interior gives no indication of the vehicle’s age, as most reviewers praise the Torrent’s cabin. Edmunds considers the interior “attractively styled” and remarks “the driver faces a stylish set of chrome-ringed gauges, sporty three-spoke steering wheel and a simple control layout.” MSN Autos talks about the “quiet, inviting, sporty looking interior,” and Cars.com says the Pontiac Torrent has "a well-designed interior.” Kelley Blue Book gripes that "some controls are not as logically laid-out as they might be, and the base vehicle isn't so different from its Equinox cousin." Cars.com adds that the 2009 Pontiac Torrents "have a unique gauge cluster and leather-wrapped steering wheel."

Review continues below

2009 Pontiac Torrent


In GXP guise, the 2009 Pontiac Torrent is reasonably fun to drive, though its fuel economy is unimpressive.

Taking into consideration the comments of various reviewers, the 3.6-liter V-6 engine powering the GPX Torrent is exciting and fun, making it the only model worth consideration from a performance standpoint.

Kelley Blue Book says the standard 3.4-liter powerplant "has more than enough horsepower and torque to provide a nice balance between good acceleration and reasonable fuel economy." MSN Autos vouches that the Chinese-built engine is “as reliable as sunrise, but also call this pushrod engine a yawner.” The base Torrent is equipped with a 3.4-liter V-6 with 185 horsepower and 210 pound-feet of torque. Edmunds notes that "though the output of GM's familiar 3400 V6 is uninspiring, it offers adequate low and midrange torque for most situations."

The 3.6-liter V-6 engine powering the GXP delivers 264 hp and 250 pound-feet of torque. Edmunds calls the engine “powerful,” and Pontiac reports the front-drive GXP Torrent hits 60 mph in about 6.9 seconds. All-wheel-drive versions are maybe a tenth of a second 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. ConsumerGuide says "the 3.6-liter V6 engine provides very good power delivery from a stop and for highway passing and merging."

Where the GXP gets a six-speed automatic transmission with manual shift control, the base Torrent only has a five-speed automatic. In their testing, ConsumerGuide observes the Pontiac Torrent GPX’s six-speed transmission has a "tendency to hunt between gears at highway speeds." Kelley Blue Book notes that "Pontiac's adaptive five-speed automatic transmission delivers near-seamless shifts and its fifth gear helps maximize fuel consumption at highway speeds." Edmunds adds it offers “manual shift control.”

Kelley Blue Book recommends that "those seeking more performance should look to the 3.6-liter engine, which features variable valve timing for better fuel economy." Cars.com notes, surprisingly, "the more-powerful engine has nearly the same mileage ratings as the smaller one." The slight difference in fuel economy has a lot to do with the transmissions and the fact that the 3.6-liter engine is more modern and refined. The Pontiac Torrent has EPA-estimated fuel economy that is identical for both front- and all-wheel-drive versions: 17 mpg city, 24 highway for the 3.4-liter engine and 16/24 mpg for the 3.6-liter V-6.

In regard to handling, although the GXP edition is the sportier of the two 2009 Torrent models, its handling leans more toward comfort than nimbleness. According to Kelley Blue Book, "the quiet-running Torrent is easy to drive, stays on course easily and body lean through curves is less than for some of its competitors." ConsumerGuide tests only the GXP model and declares that "despite the aggressive suspensions and tire combination, the GXP's handling isn't what we would call sporty." They notice that the tracking and straight-line stability are good, as are the braking control and overall grip, but "there is quite a bit of body lean in turns," and the steering feels "numb." Edmunds believes that the GXP's "performance-tuned chassis is calibrated to handle more power and offers greater potential for speed." Edmunds notes "most small SUV shoppers will find the Pontiac Torrent's ride and handling balance reasonably carlike and quite acceptable." They note the Torrent’s body roll while cornering, as well as the power steering's lack of "responsiveness."

Review continues below

2009 Pontiac Torrent

Comfort & Quality

Comfortable seating and ample storage space are let down by a noisy cabin and poor materials inside the 2009 Pontiac Torrent.

According to reviews read by TheCarConnection.com, the 2009 Pontiac Torrent is generally praised for its ample front and rear legroom and its general level of comfort, but they are less enthusiastic about its fit and finish.

ConsumerGuide notes, "the quality of Torrent's interior trim is improved for 2009, though the overall tactile experience still trails that of most competitors." According to Edmunds, "hard plastic abounds, but the Pontiac Torrent's cabin is attractively styled and solidly constructed." ConsumerGuide gripes that the GXP's engine "is particularly unrefined, the exhaust note is raspy, and tire noise is excessive." They also claim that their test model "suffered from loud wind whistling around the side windows."

Kelley Blue Book says that the 2009 Pontiac Torrent "is one of the easier SUVs to enter, and the rear seat provides ample leg space even in its farthest-forward position." They call the seats "generously supportive and comfortable," but "nearly devoid of side bolstering." According to Edmunds, "the midsize Torrent offers plenty of room for its occupants and their stuff, including plenty of rear headroom and legroom." ConsumerGuide notes that the Pontiac Torrent has "plenty of headroom and legroom up front, and the seats offer fine support." They call the Pontiac Torrent 2009 Multi-Flex sliding rear seat "clever," and its 60/40 split design can accommodate three child safety seats or two with one of the seatbacks folded.

In addition to its generous legroom, the Pontiac Torrent also gets high scores for its cargo capacity. Kelley Blue Book tallies "35 cubic feet behind its upright seats, and a healthy 69 cubic feet available with the seats folded." The 60/40-split seats accommodate long items, and they like the many cubbies and door pockets that can store small items.

Review continues below

2009 Pontiac Torrent


Standard head-curtain side-impact airbags make the 2009 Pontiac Torrent an even safer choice than before.

An impressive list of standard safety features and high crash-test scores make the 2009 Pontiac Torrent a good choice in terms of safety.

In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) tests, the Pontiac Torrent scored a highest possible "good" rating in frontal offset testing. Side-impact tests were not performed on the 2009 Torrent by the IIHS. In National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) frontal crash testing, the Pontiac Torrent earned a five-star rating (the best possible) for the protection of front occupants; it scored the same for front and rear occupant protection in its side impact tests.

Cars.com mentions "the new Electronic Trailer Sway Control, which automatically detects trailer sway caused by an improper trailer weight balance or excessive vehicle speed, then activates the stability system to maintain control." According to ConsumerGuide, the 2009 Pontiac Torrent has the following standard safety features: anti-lock disc brakes, traction control, an antiskid system, front side airbags, and side curtain airbags. Edmunds adds that the Pontiac Torrent 2009 is equipped with OnStar and that "full-length side curtain airbags with a rollover sensor are optional, but front-seat side airbags (that provide torso protection) are not available."

According to ConsumerGuide, visibility suffers because "thick front roof pillars block vision when cornering and rear sight lines are hindered by the sloping roof."

Review continues below

2009 Pontiac Torrent


The list of standard and optional features for the 2009 Pontiac Torrent is on par with any of its competitors.

A plethora of options are available for both the base-model Torrent and the GXP, or you can order the Torrent with one of Pontiac's upgrade packages.

Kelley Blue Book notes "buyers who wish to customize their Pontiac Torrents can obtain a fair number of accessories in addition to factory-installed options." According to Edmunds, "the Pontiac Torrent is a well-equipped midsize crossover SUV available in either front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive configurations."

Air conditioning, an interior air filter, OnStar, a tilt steering wheel, cruise control, a height-adjustable driver seat, a fold-flat passenger seat, an AM/FM/CD/MP3 player, a digital-media player connection, automatic headlights, and remote keyless entry, as well as power mirrors, windows, and door locks are, according to ConsumerGuide, all standard comfort and convenience features.

Upgrading to the Torrent GXP gets you the larger engine and sport-tuned suspension, 18-inch alloy wheels, privacy glass, remote vehicle starting, steering wheel audio controls, a sports instrument panel, front sport seats with multilevel heating, and a powered driver seat.

According to Kelley Blue Book, options include side curtain airbags, leather-trimmed seats, DVD navigation, a moonroof, XM Satellite Radio, and a premium sound system. "GM's accessory division can supply 19 extra items to suit owners who crave a custom look,” says Kelley Blue Book.

Review continues below
Continue Reading

The Car Connection Consumer Review

Rate and Review your car for The Car Connection! Tell us your own ratings for a vehicle you own. Rate your car on Performance, Safety, Features and more.
Write a Review
$4,000 - $9,490
Browse Used Listings
in your area
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 7
Performance 7
Comfort & Quality 7
Safety 9
Features 8
Fuel Economy N/A
Compare the 2009 Pontiac Torrent against the competition
Compare All Cars
Looking for a different year of the Pontiac Torrent?
Read reviews & get prices
Related Used Listings
Browse used listings in your area
See More Used