Used 1996 Pontiac Bonneville Review

Edmunds expert review

What's new for 1996

The Series II V6 has been supercharged for 1996, pumping out 240 horsepower. Styling front and rear has been tweaked, and daytime running lights debut.

Vehicle overview

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 near-luxury offerings such as the Lexus ES300 and BMW 3-Series, but kills the competition with seating for six, dramatic styling and amazing performance capabilities for a big, front-drive four-door.

The Bonneville benefits from a powerful base engine; a Series II 3.8-liter V6 that pumps out 205 horsepower and gets an amazing 30 miles per gallon on the highway.. New for 1996 is an optional 240-horsepower supercharged variant of the base V6, which replaces the old 225-horsepower supercharged 3.8-liter previously available. And, if you must have the supercharged engine but don't want all the goofy aero add-ons and tacky gold trim that come standard on the SSEi, you can get the blown motor in the base model. One stipulation exists, though; you've got to order the SLE package, which gives you some of the goodies that come with the SSE. Confused? Let's clarify the Bonneville roster.

Base model is the SE, and this is the only trim level to consider. Next up is the SSE, which is basically a sporty version of the SE. The SSEi is a package available on the SSE that includes the supercharged engine and flashy exterior trim. Since everything you need to build a competent sport sedan is optional on the SE, we recommend you start there.

For example, an SE with the SLE package, performance suspension, CD player with premium sound, power moonroof, traction control and 16-inch alloy wheels runs just about $27,000 and includes stuff like leather seats, antilock brakes, power everything and an anti-theft system. The Bonneville makes good economic sense, and doesn't punish you for spending less.

Styling revisions differentiate the 1996 Bonneville from previous models. New alloy wheel designs complement the fresh appearance, and daytime running lights have been added. Twilight Sentinel, an automatic headlamp control system, is standard this year and switches the DRL's to regular intensity low beams as the sun sets. GM's Magnasteer variable effort steering gives the Bonneville improved feel and response. Power lock and remote entry systems gain new features, and a rear window defogger is now standard equipment. SSE models get standard automatic climate controls, and new interior/exterior colors are available across the Bonneville lineup.

The Bonneville continues to provide excellent value for your full-size car dollars. If the Chevrolet Impala SS is a bit too brash for your tastes, the Euro-chic Bonneville SE should meet your requirements for a large, stylish and speedy sedan.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.