What's New for 1998
Second-generation airbags are standard, the SE comes with a standard deck lid spoiler, and the SSE gets more standard equipment. New colors freshen the aging Bonneville.
If ever there was an American sedan that combined traditional full-size accouterments with European style and class, it is this edition of the Bonneville. Introduced in 1992, the Bonny competes with roomy offerings such as the Ford Taurus and Toyota Avalon, but kills the competition with full-sized seating for six, attractive styling and unusually good performance capabilities for a big, front-drive four-door.
The Bonneville benefits from a powerful base engine; a 3800 Series II V6 that pumps out 205 horsepower and gets an amazing 29 miles per gallon on the highway. Optional is a 240-horsepower supercharged variant of the base V6. If you must have the supercharged engine you have no choice but to accept the goofy aero add-ons and wizardly doo-dads that come standard on the SSEi. Pontiac no longer offers the blown motor on the base Bonneville.
The base model is the SE, which includes a rear decklid spoiler for 1998. Next up is the SSE, which is basically a sporty version of the SE. The SSEi is a package available on the SSE that includes the supercharged engine and flashy trim. Last year, buyers could build a thoroughly competent supercharged sport sedan using the SE equipped with the SLE option package. This year, the only way to get added speed and power is to pop for the top-line trim level, with all of its unnecessary gee-gaws and myriad power seat adjustment buttons.
Otherwise, Pontiac carries the Bonneville over nearly intact for 1998. SSE models gain an eight-speaker Bose sound system and the Head-Up Display as standard equipment, and second-generation airbags (a.k.a., de-powered airbags) are standard. Camel is a new interior color, and exterior paints come in fresh hues of blue, green and gold.
The Bonneville continues to provide excellent value for your full-size car dollars. If the Ford Taurus and Dodge Intrepid are a bit too loud for your tastes, the Euro-chic Bonneville SE should meet your requirements for a large, stylish and speedy sedan.