Bought one for $800 at a fairly shady lot. Had 111,000 miles on it, it started and got me to school everyday. It had the 4Tech engine in it (not the horrendous Quad), and I attribute that factor to how well it ran. Some frigid Illinois mornings (-15F), my car, amazingly, was the only one that would start. How it looked was a different story. Got it with no rust, no real dings or anything, but that first winter DESTROYED the body. Rust spreading like an infection on my car body, and glad to read in the reviews that mine wasn't the only one that had the rear shocks break up into the trunk. 2 1/2 years and 30,000 miles later, engine dies. Sold to junk yard for $35. (Trans was still good)
I owned this Pontiac for two years and put over 500,000 miles on it! The little car fell right apart around the engine though. I had the 2.3 DOHC 16 Valve oh she was a fast little girl! I just wish Pontiac would've built the body better. The rear shocks endded up coming up though the trunk. I paid $1,500 for it and drove it back and forth to college everyday. I'd say I got my money out of it.
I've had this car for almost three years and the only thing that has gone wrong is the A/C compressor. It has over 140K miles on the original Quad 4. Most Quad motors aren't very reliable but this one has been perfect. Everyone thinks of the GA as a junk but it really is a solid car, you just have to take care of it. Don't beat the hell out of your car, ignore oil changes and expect it to run forever.
The Quad 4 by far. Once that motor spins past 3K RPM it pulla awesome. If the car was a 5-speed it would be alot faster.
I really can't think of anything that needs improvement because the car is 17 years old but the seats could have been designed a little better.
Mechanical Quality: Blown engine at purchase. Alternator has been replaced 4 times. Check engine light came on causing all sorts of electrical problems (AC and Speedometer died and transmission ran at 1700 RPM at idle, but became normal after light went off). Replaced 3 sensors (O2; Coolant; TPS), EGR Valve and thermosthat. Replaced engine computer which fixed engine light problem. Shocks/Struts need to be replaced. Body/Interior Quality: Body rusts out rather quickly. Exterior paint job is terrible. Tire noise in city and highway driving is very loud and annoying. Feature/Accessory Quality: Heating takes a while to get warm. AC is cold, but needs more power to blow our more. Good Stereo!
Stereo system is very good. AC is good in warm weather, but don't expect to much in very hot weather as the blower is not powerful enough to cool down the car in any amount of time while driving. There is really not that many favorite features to list as there are more problems than good things.
Overall build quality would be a good start. Steer clear away from Pontiacs. I have 161,000 on the car and I know that Hondas, Nissans, and Toyotas give you more realiability. The car is not very good for the long term, or even the short term for that matter. Don't even buy as 1st time car buyer!
Bought this car 1 year old at 10k mi.,
did regular maintenance on my own (oil,
lube, filters, trans fluid, etc...),
now has 129k and still running strong
(Tech 4 engine) no major problems, just
alternator, cooling fan and once the ECM
went bad leaving the engine unable to
start ($350 w/labor). This car has
served me well, overall very dependable
and easy maintenance to keep it running.
Reliable, easy to drive, comfortable
ride for a car of this size.
Engine runs a bit rough when AC is on.
Window crank mechanism very poorly
designed (broke twice).