Pontiac G6 GT car reviews
Review Notes: 2007 Pontiac G6 GT Rental
|Personality||Feels like a luxury car but looks like a rental|
|Why we’d buy it||Good ride and cornering, good mileage and power, lots of space, quiet interior|
|Why we wouldn’t||Cheap looking interior, oddly shaped rear seats, front seats don’t fit everyone|
|Gas mileage||2008-standard: 17/26 (EPA)
2007-standard: 20/28 (EPA)
Normally, we don't rent cars to review them, because some automakers make special runs of rental cars with unusual powertrains or options, and because they might not have been repaired or maintained correctly. However, we happened to be dropped into a Pontiac G6 sedan while in Wisconsin, for nearly as long as we usually borrow a car anyway.
From the start, we were satisfied by the G6’s comfort and interior space; the suspension glided right over the cracks in Wausau’s cement roads, leaving just a distant click-click, and made short work of potholes as well. In both front and back, but especially in front, the ride was luxury-car smooth; yet cornering was quite good and the steering was tight and precise. The G6 proved to be both pleasant and fun to drive.
It helps that the rental company provided the GT model, which not only has GM’s proven-but-efficient 3.5 liter V6 engine and a tighter suspension than normal. We expect that the four cylinder would have adequate acceleration and a smoother ride with less precise and capable cornering. The G6 also comes with an optional 3.6 liter engine with a six speed automatic, and with a 3.9 liter engine with a four speed automatic.
The engine was quiet and compliant under normal conditions, with a bit of "rubber-band" feeling around town as the pedal didn't seem to have an immediate and direct influence on the engine. That could annoy some purists, but it did make city driving smoother. Most of the time, the G6 did not feel especially powerful, partly because of that; but when we needed to pass on the long straights of Route 51, the transmission immediately dropped down a gear and we shot off like a bullet, with instant passing power. The engine made the high-tech sound we've come to expect from highly efficient four cylinders (our test car, just to keep it clear, was the 3.5 liter V6). The transmission was both gentle and responsive, and had a separate manumatic position all the way down and to the right; we tried this as well and it worked fine, with the expected ergonomics.
Gas mileage for the G6 was surprisingly good, with an average of 30 mpg or more on normal highways, 29 mpg on the single-lane routes with frequent full-throttle passing and occasional stop signs, and 20 mpg in the city (all with the air conditioning on, and in a rental car with 10,000 miles). This has to be taken in the context of a full sized interior with excellent soundproofing and a smooth ride, not to mention good power. Most drivers should have little problem meeting or beating the EPA estimates.
The interior was done up in black, with plain fabric seats and consistently textured plastic surfaces. The air vents had chrome trim rings, adding some brightness and interest, while the center stack was black except for some small chrome highlights; vents were circular, easy to close, and easy to aim, with a good feel. They directed air where needed easily and without unwanted leakage, and were easy to shut off. Controls were simple and easy to understand with a button for air conditioning and a knob for vent positions. The stereo had moderately traditional controls, with a button to go into tone or balance/fade mode, and knobs for those adjustments, tuning, and volume. The display included the outside temperature, time, and your choice of range, average mileage, current mileage, and oil life remaining. The latter deserves some explanation: GM discovered that most people change their oil far too often, while some do not change it often enough. For people in normal (not too dusty) environments, a computer monitors oil temperature, engine speed, and similar factors and figures out when it's time to change the oil, so if you're one of those people who only needs to do it every 10,000 miles, you don't do it ever 3,000 (and vice versa).
The instrument panel is nicely done, with bright chrome rings and moderately sensible scales (140 mph for the speedometer, just over the 6,000-rpm redline for the tachometer, 250 degrees for the actual-temperature thermometer). Gauges are clear day and night and have sizeable sun hoods.
Interior space was quite generous, with very good headroom in front and rear, and excellent legroom as well. The sides of the front seats can be uncomfortable for larger people (who may also find entry and exit in the driver’s seat to be difficult, as the bolsters and wheel get in the way), but are nicely contoured for thinner folk. The rear seats have an unnatural amount of back bolster and, in contrast, little side support.
Even with the front seat pushed back, there was good legroom in the rear. Bins were not so generous, with a small center console (placed too far back to be particularly useful), small map pockets in front, and small, tight nets on the backs of the front seats. The two front and two rear cupholders were of the single-size, moderately-deep variety. The trunk was large enough for four full size suitcases but no more, and the speakers were unprotected from baggage. Overall, the interior looked fairly cheap - dare we say it, rental-car-like -and posed a sharp contrast to the powertrain and chassis. There were no squeaks, rattles, or evidences of wear in our 10,000 mile rental, proof that General Motors may not have styled the interior well but did design and build it well.
Controls were mainly sensible and standard in design, with wheel mounted cruise (including a cancel button). The steering wheel tilted and telescoped, using a manual lever that, when pushed down, freed the driver to push, pull, lift, and lower - something which should only be done while stopped. The pedals went forward and backward with a simple switch control. The oddball was, as one might expect in a GM vehicle, the lights. There were three positions, automatic, driving lights on, and headlights on, as well as an Off position that has to be set each time to the accompaniment of several warnings. The blood-red backlighting comes on when the engine is shut off or when the car feels like putting it on, based on a light sensor, which is an odd and unnecessary design decision, removing control from the driver (it didn't help that the radio/trip computer couldn't be dimmed unless the car decided it was dark enough for backlighting). The use of red lighting is presumably seen as sporty, but it also sometimes gives the impression that a warning light is on, and presumably makes any red warning lights less easily visible; overall it's an affectation, not quite as bad as Volkswagen's purple but still far from making as much sense as the night-vision-safe amber. Visibility was generally quite good, except for the usual rear pillar; the headlights were bright if not particularly well focused, and the sun visors had sliders to block the sun when it came in unusual places. The wipers were an unusual and effective design, but this might have been a Northern-Wisconsin-rental-company addition.
The Pontiac G6 is a surprisingly nice car, but being American means that many people won't consider it, choosing instead to go with a Camry or Accord. That's a shame, because with the exception of pure straight-line acceleration, the G6 is much nicer than either one - except in terms of interior decoration.