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1998 Pontiac Grand Am

Overall rating:  Product Rating: 3.5

Reviewed by 43 users

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Reviews written: 49
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Bye, Bye Explorer, Hello Grand Am!!


by tmyer:      Sep 3, 2001 - Updated Sep 3, 2001


Product Rating: 4.0 Recommended: Yes 

Pros: Sporty, affordable car that handles, and drives well.
Cons: Some of the "automated features" leave a lot to be desired.
The Bottom Line: If you want an affordable, sporty car than this might be the one for you. Even new it is affordable by today's standards. I recommend it!


After a long break from writing epinions I have returned to write again!! I am sure all of you are holding your breath right?? No, ok, well nonetheless here goes.

So I finally return to US soil after nearly 6 years overseas in the military. I arrive in Tampa, Florida right at the first of this year and my Explorer, which I loved so much, was a concern to me now. First off, gas was getting more expensive and the Explorer is not the easiest on the gas, plus a year in Guam made the paint a concern in the future, would it hold up after that highly corrosive environment? Besides, the Explorer was being shipped to Tampa via boat, and wouldn't be there until a month after me, so why not see what I could get instead of paying for a rental car for a month.

The Purchase
So admittedly I was a little over-eager to buy something. Truth is I stopped at the Pontiac dealer on a whim, just out of the blue totally. I was driving a Grand Prix rental car, and I wanted to check on the prices because I was so impressed with it. The Grand Prix's (and the new cars for that matter) were more than I wanted to bite off at the moment, so I was getting ready to leave when I spotted a very nice looking used Grand Am. A few years ago, while in Germany, I wanted a new car. I went to the on base dealer (who deals all types of cars) and decided on a 1998 Pontiac Grand Am GT. Black, with an in-dash CD player, fog lamps, spoiler, etc, etc. Unfortunately I was unable to get financed at the time, having only a year left on my current military enlistment made banks think I might not be able to pay for a new car for 5 years. Later on, when I did re-enlist and had the job "security" the banks wanted, I bought the Explorer. Anyway, this Grand Am on the lot was the same year, type, and color, with almost all the same accessories, as I wanted before. So my interest peaked. When the salesman told me they would sell me the car and let me take it home without my trade being in the country (they would get it when it arrived) I was sold. Unfortunately, my over-eagerness cost me buy paying more than I should have, but I have learned from that and will not make that mistake again. Needless to say, I took the car home that night, after that impulsive stop to "look".

So do I like the car??
To answer that in a word: yes!! It has had some minor problems, and owning a used car again has been a learning experience after two years of a new, warranty-covered, car - but I am learning to cope with it. The car drives quite well, handles curves and turns with ease, certainly more stable on the road than the Explorer ever thought about being. The interior is very well set up, though Pontiac's orange lighting took some time to adjust to, but now it's fine. The radio is well within reach, easy to change while driving, and without causing a wreck. I wish the cup holders were bigger and located more conveniently, the front one on the center console is barely usable since it sits under the radio area. The car gets great gas mileage for a V-6, while doing some driving to home on the old interstate system, it was getting nearly 30 MPG, so that is pretty good. City driving I estimate to be about mid 20's. The engine is peppy and responsive, even at higher RPM's, which actually seems to be it's most productive place, even at 65 MPH stepping on the pedal will get a quick response.

Complaints
Not much in this category, the car really is pretty nice, if only I had gotten a better price I would be a little happier. So far I have had an alternator go out, which can happen to any car at any time of course. The Automatic Light Control (ALC) does not work well on my car, the normal headlights (not daytime running lamps, which are normally all that should be on in the daytime)and the taillights, etc come on in the middle of the brightest days, not always - but often. This also causes the clock and radio to dim, as if it were nighttime, making it nearly impossible to see. The sensor for it, which detects the light, or lack thereof, is under the defrost grill, inside the car. So I don't know how it even works right in the first place. I noticed on newer cars it is on the dash, uncovered, probably as a result of the early ones not working well, like mine. I would disable the ALC, and the daytime running lamps (which may or may not improve safety, but irritate me to no end for some reason), but the fuses are strategically located with other things, such as the Air Conditioner blower, so if you pull one you lose the other. So I'd rather put up with daytime running lamps then have no air, it's hot here in Florida. All in all though, few problems, I am happy overall with the car.

Final Thoughts
The GT is not a family car, not that much room, though the trunk does have a surprising amount of room. The 4-DR might fit a family better, but judging by the size of the car I still think this is more for the person without kids. Peppy acceleration, sporty looks, and impressive handling make this car a good drive, I doubt you could ever lose control in a corner or turn unless you are really trying. I like it, though I found my next car (Chevy Trailblazer) so it's almost time to move on, well when I can afford it. In the meantime I will gladly drive this car, it truly is a nice looking car.

Amount Paid (US$): 15,500
Condition: Used
Model Year: 1998
Model and Options: GT, in-dash CD player
Product Rating: 4.0
Recommended: Yes 
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