Pontiac has made attempts to emphasize performance as their primary goal. They try to make even their four cylinder cars feel like their Firebird.
The car does look real nice when it is all shined up with a good set of rims or after market hubcaps, but let it get dirty and you will be washing it with a q-tip. The ridges that surround the car, protecting it from shopping carts and door dings and allegedly giving it a more sporty look, works great, but it also holds dirt better than any other part I have ever seen on a car.
The interior of the Pontiac Grand AM SE provides everything you could ask for in a mid-90s car. The seats are comfortable, and the car can seat five with only mild discomfort. The layout of the dash console is quite practical, except that some of the lights can be blocked by the drivers arms or even the steering wheel if the driver is short. There is only one cup holder in the front that is accessible to the driver but it is under the stereo so there is a height restriction on the cup (there are two more in front of the passenger if you dont have an airbag there, and one in each of the rear arm rests). Also this care utilizes door speakers, which are more likely to be damaged due to the vibration caused by closing the door and increased likelihood of direct encounters. One quirk is the odd shape of the trunk opening limits what you can put into the trunk.
The 2.3L 115 HP four cylinder engine provides good acceleration while saving money at the pumps. The automatic transmission is quite smooth and well timed for times when extra performance is required. You wont be racing any Cameros, but you will hold your own with the likes of the Civic and Cavalier. One nice feature for me and bad for others is the sound the engine makes. It is reminiscent of a Camero or Firebird, though not nearly the same volume. Good if you like to hear the changes in your engine as you accelerate, bad if you want a totally silent ride.
This is where the car diverges from the sports car category. The high wall tires and long springs make for a more comfortable ride, but the car dips dramatically in hard turns. This is always a tradeoff that one must weigh carefully. I would have preferred if the springs were just a bit harder.
As I stated above the longer springs and higher tire walls provide a very smooth ride. With all the snow plows digging 4 pot holes in the ground lately, it has come in very handy. At high speeds, there is no noticeable increase in road noise or that sleep generating engine hum that some cars develop. There is one truly annoying sound though, the plastic body panels inside the car tend to creek almost constantly although randomly. This is easily fixed buy turning on the stereo, but can really get on your nerves if you are trying to have a conversation.
The engine has not had a problem yet. The only problem my car has had thus far is a failure in the anti-lock break computer. A very serious problem that costs $800 to fix, but if you dont have the money, you can simply unplug the computer and rely on power breaks without the ABS.
At the current rate of about $3000, this is a great deal for your kids first car or a winter car (front wheel drive is great in snow and on ice). Also if you need a reliable and inexpensive car this is the best way to go. The car is larger than a Cavalier and about the same price.
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