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With flexible interior space, a strong engine and modern styling, the 2006 Pontiac Torrent is one of the better small SUVs available.
Long wheelbase affords plenty of interior room, fore/aft-adjustable rear seats, high crash test scores, available side curtain airbags.
Limited choice in drivetrains, confusing stereo control layout, slow steering response.
For 2006, Pontiac unveils the Torrent, a crossover SUV based on the Chevrolet Equinox platform.
For 2006, Pontiac has an all-new crossover SUV. Called the Torrent, it's a very close sibling to the Chevy Equinox. As with the Equinox, the 2006 Pontiac Torrent is an attractive SUV with clean lines, ideal proportions and beefy styling cues such as pronounced wheel arches and optional 17-inch wheels. Giving the Torrent a Pontiac signature is the twin-port grille and faux skid plates on the front and rear fascias. Don't be fooled by the Torrent's rugged looks, though. This crossover is geared more for everyday driving rather than trail bashing off-road. All-season tires and so-so ground clearance confirm its status as a soft-roader.
With a price in the low-$20,000 range, the Pontiac Torrent should generally be cross-shopped against compact SUVs such as the Escape/Tribute twins, CR-V, Outlander and RAV4. It's actually a bit larger than most of these vehicles, however. Its generous 112.5-inch wheelbase and an overall length of 188.8 inches provide additional interior room. And the Torrent is just as flexible as the Equinox, with a split-folding rear seat that slides 8 inches fore and aft. The only major mechanical difference between the two besides exterior styling is that the Pontiac SUV has a slightly firmer state of supsension tune.
Unlike some of the competition, the 2006 Pontiac Torrent doesn't offer much in the way of powertrain options; it's available only with a 3.4-liter V6 mated to a five-speed automatic transmission. The rest of the equipment list offers more variety; the Torrent may be equipped with safety items like side curtain airbags and traction control, as well as upscale features like heated leather seats and satellite radio. Although several small SUVs can match the Torrent's overall package, it's certainly worth consideration if you're looking for an urban runabout with a flexible cabin design and high safety ratings.
The five-passenger Pontiac Torrent crossover SUV comes in one trim, and is available with either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. Standard equipment highlights include 16-inch wheels, air conditioning, remote keyless entry, a CD player and power windows, mirrors and locks. Further optional equipment is grouped into three main option packages. A Preferred package includes a power driver seat, uplevel cloth upholstery, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and steering wheel-mounted audio controls. If one orders the Preferred package, a Premium package becomes available; it equips the Torrent with leather seating and heated front seats. There's also a Sun and Sound package that includes a sunroof and a premium six-CD audio system.
The Pontiac Torrent comes with one engine: a 3.4-liter V6 good for 185 horsepower and 210 pound-feet of torque. Towing capacity is rated at 3,500 pounds. The Torrent is available in all-wheel-drive and front-wheel-drive configurations, but only one transmission is offered -- a five-speed automatic.
ABS is part of the Torrent's standard features list, and traction control is standard on front-drive versions of the vehicle. Full-length side curtain airbags are optional. In NHTSA crash testing, the Pontiac Torrent earned a five-star rating (the best possible) for its protection of front occupants in frontal collisions. The Pontiac SUV also earned five stars for front- and rear-seat occupant protection in side collisions.
Thanks to its long wheelbase, the Torrent offers plenty of room for its occupants. To make way for larger passengers or cargo, the 60/40-split rear seat can slide nearly 8 inches fore and aft. The Torrent offers 35 cubic feet of luggage space behind its rear seats; folding down the rear seat bumps the total to 69 cubic feet. An adjustable rear cargo shelf makes the loading of multiple small items easier and can also double as a picnic table. Up front, the Pontiac Torrent features relatively stylish chrome-ringed gauges and a sporty three-spoke steering wheel. While most of the controls are simple in design, the stereo head unit's collection of small buttons is unnecessarily complicated.
The Torrent's 3.4-liter V6 furnishes such spunky response that it makes a mockery of its modest output ratings. This Pontiac SUV feels eager in most situations; it's only when taking on steep mountain upgrades that it lacks some steam. Ride comfort is commendable and evidently takes priority over sharp handling; the electric power steering is a bit too light and a little slow. All the same, for most consumers, the ride and handling balance of the 2006 Pontiac Torrent is pretty well dialed in for this class of vehicle.
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