What's New for 1999
GM's dealer-installed OnStar mobile communications system is available.
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 more modern 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 its 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 3.8-liter V6. If you must have the supercharged engine you have no choice but to accept the overstyled aero add-ons and sci-fi-type doodads that come standard on the SSEi. Pontiac no longer offers the blown motor on the base Bonneville.
The base model is the SE, which received a rear decklid spoiler as standard fare last year. The up-level model is the SSE, which is basically a sporty version of the SE. The SSEi is a performance package available on the SSE that includes the supercharged engine and flashy trim. The SLE is the other option package available for the SSE model that adds a host of luxury and convenience features. A couple of years ago, buyers could build a thoroughly competent supercharged sport sedan using the SE equipped with the SLE option package. Beginning last year, the only way to get added speed and power is to pop for the top-line SSE trim level, with all of its unnecessary gee-gaws and myriad of power seat adjustment buttons and the like.
For 1999, Pontiac carries the Bonneville over nearly intact from 1998, when SSE models gained an eight-speaker Bose sound system and the Head-Up Display as standard equipment. This year, two exterior colors have been added, Galaxy Silver and Dark Bronzemist, and two other base model colors, Platinum Beige and Navy Blue, are being made available on the SSE and SSEi. Good thing there's not many other changes, too, because we can't imagine adding another possible feature to the Bonneville's goodies list. In fact, the only thing the car really needs is a new model and option package designation system, for the SE, SSE, SLE and SSEi simply sounds too silly to be taken seriously. The next thing you know, Old MacDonald will order up a Bonneville SSE-I-E-I-Oh. See what we mean? C'mon Pontiac. The Bonneville deserves better.
All in all, the Pontiac Bonneville continues to provide excellent value for your full-size car dollars. If the over-ovalesque Ford Taurus or the wedge-shaped Dodge Intrepid are a bit too expressive for your tastes and the Chrysler 300M is way too jarring on your eyes, then the Euro-chic Bonneville SE should meet your requirements for a large, safely stylish and speedy sedan.