What's New for 1996
New styling, a new base engine, dual airbags and body-mounted seatbelts.
Pontiac's perennial sales leader returns for 1996 with much needed exterior and interior updates to keep this compact competitive.
The big news this year is evident inside the Grand Am. A redesigned interior sports dual airbags and pillar-mounted 3-point seatbelts. The new soft-touch instrument panel features revised analog gauges, and a console-mounted parking brake replaces the anachronistic floor-mounted pedal of the 1995 model. Two new interior colors and fabrics debut. Improved cupholders and controls complete the interior redo.
Under the hood, a new twin-cam 2.4-liter engine is standard on all models. Pontiac claims that the new engine improves zero to 60 mph times by one second over 1995 models. A 3.1-liter V6 is optional, but requires an automatic shifter. Traction control is included with the automatic transmission this year. Fresh styling tweaks update the Grand Am's sheetmetal, and new alloy wheels compliment the new look. Four new paint colors are available.
Daytime running lights have been added to the Grand Am for 1996. A single key operates the ignition, as well as all door and trunk locks. PASSlock theft deterrent is standard on all Grand Ams. Variable effort steering, formerly found only on the GT, is available on both trim levels this year.
After five years on the market, the Grand Am is Pontiac's best-selling model, and it's not hard to see why. The Grand Am offers stylish good looks and reasonable performance, yet remains a decent value. The SE model is our pick, because it can be equipped to GT specs without the false performance pretensions and higher price of that premium trim level. Budget minded shoppers may want to investigate the twin-cam Sunfire, which offers more equipment for less money.