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Pontiac bills the Bonneville as "Luxury with Attitude." That's an accurate description, given its basis on Cadillac's Seville platform and available 240-horse supercharged V6 engine. If traditional Pontiac styling twists your crank, and you want a large sedan packed with performance and features, the Bonneville is your kind of ride.
Loads of gee-whiz features, head-turning styling.
Stout V6 in a segment that demands a V8, nameplate lacks snob appeal of luxury imports, head-turning styling.
Available Bonneville Models
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Only subtle changes are on tap for the 2002 Bonneville. Most notable on the list are new front and rear fascias for the base SE model, while new exterior badging and dual exhaust tips debut on the SLE and SSEi models. Newly styled 17-inch wheels, three new exterior colors, LATCH child-seat anchors, an improved Monsoon sound system and redesigned cupholders round out the changes.
Billed as "Luxury with Attitude," the Pontiac Bonneville is based on the Cadillac Seville's platform, boasting significant torsional stiffness that provides for a solid, quiet ride. Rolling on a 112-inch wheelbase, the Bonny also backs up Pontiac's "Wide Track" marketing pitch with a class-leading 62.6-inch front and 62.1-inch wide rear footprint.
Styling combines a steep hood and windshield rake with an aggressive roofline to impart a decidedly wedge-like profile. But the Bonneville still retains traditional Pontiac design cues as cat's-eye headlamps with large, round fog lamps; a V-shaped hood; and sculpted bodysides with muscular haunches. Three models are available: SE, SLE and SSEi.
Standard on the SE and SLE is GM's 3800 Series II V6 that not only pumps out 205 horsepower though a four-speed automatic transmission, but also can get an amazing 30 miles per gallon on the highway. Move to the SSEi, and you get a healthy 240-horsepower supercharged variant of the 3.8-liter V6 that makes you almost forget that this full-size luxury sport sedan is not available with V8 power.
The base SE gets some minor styling revisions this year for a cleaner look and comes nicely equipped with standard features such as seat-mounted safety belts, driver and front-passenger side-impact airbags and four-wheel antilock brakes. Other standard items include 16-inch wheels and tires, power mirrors and illuminated entry. The midlevel SLE adds dual climate controls, a programmable driver information center, four-wheel disc brakes with ABS and an upgrade to 17-inch wheels.
Of course, the SSEi not only packs supercharged punch, it ups the standard equipment load with dual exhaust, high-performance 17-inch wheels and tires, GM's StabiliTrak suspension system, and a Bose eight-speaker premium audio unit. You also get other high-tech goodies, such as EyeCue head-up display, variable-effort steering and 12-way power leather front buckets with memory.
Speaking of the interior, all controls are canted toward the driver in true Pontiac tradition, with full instrumentation backlit in the brand-signature red lighting. If your needs call for six-passenger capability, a 55/45-split bench seat with center storage armrest is available on the SE (in cloth only). A lineup of Delco radios is offered, as is GM's three-button OnStar communications system.
Overall, the Bonneville is a stylish and speedy full-size sedan built off a true world-class platform. We could do without the overwrought exterior cladding and numerous switches and buttons, but looking past these minor shortcomings reveals a solid value in the sparse segment of six-passenger sedans.
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