Used 1997 Pontiac Bonneville Review

Edmunds expert review

What's new for 1997

Changes for 1997 are few. Supercharged Bonnevilles get a new transmission, a new Delco/Bose premium sound system is optional on the SSE, and the EYE CUE heads-up display has a new motorized adjustment feature. Two new exterior colors, a new interior color and a new interior fabric visually liven up the aging Bonneville.

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 roomy offerings such as the Ford Taurus and Toyota Avalon, but kills the competition with full-sized seating for six, attractive styling and amazing performance capabilities for a big, front-drive four-door.

The Bonneville benefits from a powerful base engine; a 3800 Series II V6 that pumps out 205 horsepower and gets an amazing 29 miles per gallon on the highway. Optional is a 240-horsepower supercharged variant of the base V6. If you must have the supercharged engine but don't want all the goofy aero add-ons and wizardly doo-dads 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 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 easily runs less than thirty grand, 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.

Pontiac carries the Bonneville over nearly intact for 1997. Supercharged models get a new electronically controlled four-speed automatic transmission. Order an SSE, and you can equip it with a new Delco/Bose premium audio system. The optional head-up display now has a motorized adjustment feature, and lap/shoulder belts are easier to release thanks to the relocation of the "eject" button to the end of the latch. Two new exterior colors debut, and interiors are newly available in Dark Pewter.

The Bonneville continues to provide excellent value for your full-size car dollars. If the Ford Taurus and Eagle Vision are a bit too loud 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.