I rented a Bonneville as a temporary replacement while my usual car is in the shop for body repair, and would like to share my impressions with everyone.
The exterior is quite sleek and aggressive, yet surprisingly quite tasteful and restrained. Some Pontiac sedans, particularly the higher trim level ones, tend to have a lot of busy trim that may be off-putting to those with more conservative tastes. Since I drove the base SE model, it is possible that this may not be true of the top of the line SSEi.
The base 205hp 3.8 liter V-6 engine is powerful, smooth in its acceleration, and more than adequate for passing on the freeway. I would urge those who think they need the more beefy supercharged version to test drive both the base engine and supercharged one to determine if they need or want the extra power. The car handles and corners well, without any fishtailing or extra body roll, and exhibits excellent stability at highway speeds. The ride while firm, is not too harsh.
The driver's seat has power adjustments for the cushion and the back and forth, with a manual recline. I would imagine that full power seats are an option or standard on the SSE and SSEi. Nevertheless, I found a very comfortable driving position. The driver and front passenger seats offer firm support. I was, however, a bit disappointed with the rear seat. The backrest is too upright and the cushion is too short, so it is not as comfortable as you would expect of a car in this class. With the driver's seat positioned for me (I am about 5'10", and actually drive with the seat pushed a bit forward for someone of my size), there didn't seem to be that much rear legroom as expected. For convenience, there is a pass-through from the trunk via the rear center armrest, and child seat anchors in the rear shelf.
The instrumentation offers the red lighting trademark of Pontiac. They automatically go on at night when you use the keyless entry system to unlock the car and open the door, a convenience. However, as another reviewer has noted, the odometer display is off to the right and blocked from the driver's direct sight by the steering wheel, which is a fault. Another convenient feature is the 'automatic on' of the instrument panel lighting at night..no need to turn the switch on.
However, I found the stereo system controls to be too low, out of my normal driving sight, such that I have to take my eyes off the road briefly to operate it. Moreover, the stereo has too many buttons to make operation a simple process, unlike that of a Honda Accord. I would hope that GM can simplify the layout in the future. The saving grace is that the stereo does sound great, and has equalization settings to tailor it to your individual musical tastes.
The climate control panel is located below the stereo controls, and even more out of sight of the driver. The panel layout (knobs for fan and temperature control at opposite ends, with 8 identical pushbuttons in between) could also be simplified as well. The climate control operates effortlessly, and there are also 2 vents in back of the center front console for rear seat passengers.
Various comfort and convenience features are present in the Bonneville, even the base model I drove. I've mentioned the automatic night lighting feature earlier. The overhead console has a cubby hole for your remote garage door opener, a fold-out compartment for your sunglasses, individual maplights, and an additional accessory port, presumably for a mobile phone. The trunk is fairly large. When you open the trunk (either via keyless remote, the release in the glovebox, or by key), the trunklid opens smoothly, and clears your head. There is also a cargo net in the trunk for smaller items. All these little things make living with the car quite easier.
All in all, the Bonneville is a very nice car. My main quibbles are with some of the placement of the controls and the shape of the back seat, if you carry rear seat passengers a lot. I hope GM takes these comments to heart.
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