2008 Pontiac G8 Long Term Road Test - Wrap-Up

2008 Pontiac G8 Long-Term Road Test

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Here at Edmunds.com, we're a bit like puppy breeders. We get attached to our new babies while we have them, but then we can let them go easily when the time comes.

This time, however, things were different. When the 2008 Pontiac G8 GT came to us in 2008, we were hoping that it wouldn't be the last Detroit-built rear-wheel-drive sedan that we ever drove, and we also hoped that this car would bring back Pontiac from the brink of extinction, since it's a brand that we've always loved.

But as it turned out, the 2008 Pontiac G8 GT would be our last-ever Pontiac. And we hated to see it go.

Why We Got It
For us, the G8 GT was the Great Big Hope. Not only did it have a massive V8 matched with rear-wheel drive in a combination that we covet so, but also it had a high-quality interior, European-inspired handling, sharp looks and, all things considered, a bargain-basement price. We were aware of the car long before its debut at the 2007 Chicago Auto Show and even went to Australia to test the 2007 Holden Commodore SS from which it's derived.

This car appealed to old guys who remember the Chevy Caprice (especially the 1991-'96 Chevy Impala SS to which it led). It appealed to kids who have seen the test that Top Gear conducted of the G8's sister car, the Vauxhall VXR8. As for us, the Pontiac G8 helped us remember what we like about the traditional American sedan with a long hood, too much power, giant doors and room for six (eight if you double-buckle).

Plus, just look at the thing. How cool is that? Forget the reasonable reasons; we pretty much bought this one because it made us feel cool.

With a 361-horsepower overhead-valve 6.0-liter LS76 V8 that can trace its roots back to the beginning of automotive consciousness (i.e., the '55 Chevy), we expected nothing short of perfection from the 2008 Pontiac G8 GT's engine room. But we weren't sure if the Australian planners and assembly-line workers had executed the chassis package in the same spirit. So considering that, it's something to say that we were pleasantly surprised by what the G8 GT returned.

Not only did our 2008 Pontiac G8 GT provide just under 36,000 trouble-free miles, but it did so under sometimes stressful conditions — which resulted in a $684.67 bill for new rear tires.

But for all that, our G8 required only three oil changes. That's three, not the 12 oil changes that might have been required back in the days when you had to change your low-grade mineral oil every 3,000 miles. We just let the Pontiac's electronic sensors determine when the oil had to be changed. And since the cost of each oil change averaged $35, we saved a lot of cash, not to mention a lot of time, by listening to the sensors. Also we saved a lot of oil, using 27 quarts instead of 108.

"Edmunds.com," you're saying, "my daddy taught me to change the oil every 3,000 miles. He'd die and then roll over in his grave if I told him about a 13,000-mile interval between oil changes. Got any proof this works?"

Yes, we do! Just before the G8's final oil change, Senior Consumer Advice Editor Phillip Reed sent a sample of the G8's oil to Blackstone Labs for analysis. The sample came back good on all fronts, but just barely so. Turns out that the G8's sensor was correct, and so 13,000 miles proved to be the perfect mileage to ensure that the oil's goodness had been used to its fullest, since there wasn't much life left in it. But another lesson here is, when the service light turns on, get it done fast, because the oil is done.

These things were to be expected, though. What we didn't expect was a 14-day repair for a wheel-speed sensor/traction control failure, a broken key fob and a loose center trim panel (which Dan Edmunds fixed himself). New brakes were necessary at the end of the 2008 Pontiac G8's service life, but parts availability and time constraints meant that we sold the car at a slight discount after making full disclosure about the brakes.

There were some complaints about useless knobs and an overly bright light for the "Passenger Air Bag off" warning light in the rearview mirror that were silly details that Pontiac probably would have fixed for the G8 Version 2.0. Sigh.

Total Body Repair Costs: 0
Total Routine Maintenance Costs (over 17 months): $179.74
Additional Maintenance Costs: $684.67
Warranty Repairs: 2
Non-Warranty Repairs: 0
Scheduled Dealer Visits: 3
Unscheduled Dealer Visits: 2
Days Out of Service: 15
Breakdowns Stranding Driver: 0

Performance and Fuel Economy
During our initial testing of this 2008 Pontiac G8 GT at the beginning of its term with us, it returned some impressive numbers: 5.8 seconds to 60 mph from a standstill (5.5 seconds to 60 with 1 foot of rollout like on a drag strip) and a quarter-mile pass in 13.95 seconds at 101.3 mph. Its performance in our handling evaluation was equally impressive, including a 113-foot stop from 60 mph, a 66.3-mph run through the slalom and a 0.86g result on the skid pad. When we conducted our testing at the end of its term, the G8 GT performed nearly identically on its new Bridgestone Potenza RE050A tires.

In the real world we weren't so concerned with ultimate performance, but most of us drove the car in Sport mode all the time, thereby exchanging an annoying fuel-economy calibration for a usable driving experience. That considered, we still averaged 18 mpg over the course of 35,332 miles. This is exactly what the EPA says we should get and our best tank ties the EPA's estimate for highway mpg. (Though it must be said that our low of 12 mpg is a full 3 mpg below what the EPA guesses you should get in a city loop. Oh well, I doubt its loop left any evidence of the trip.)

Best Fuel Economy: 24.3 mpg
Worst Fuel Economy: 12 mpg
Average Fuel Economy: 18 mpg

Retained Value
Turns out that trying to sell a used car from a brand that no longer exists isn't the way to quick and easy profit.

While few people balked at the idea of buying a used, full-size American sedan, there were hesitant questions about parts, service and warranty. A few were ultimately dissuaded and a few more were inspired to conduct aggressive price negotiations. But it didn't matter to us, as were happy to keep driving our First 888 G8 and wait for the right buyer. Eventually, he showed up, a Navy mechanic who owns six cars and does all the maintenance himself. He didn't ask about warranties or how the light worked for the service interval; he just wanted some cash off for the brakes and a little extra for the extra miles we'd piled on while waiting for a buyer. And then we took off an extra hundred bucks, our own military discount program.

For $21,000 even, Angel Acosta walked away with what, only 17 months previously, had cost us $31,845.

True Market Value at service end: $21,700
What it sold for: $21,000
Depreciation: $10,145 or 31% of original paid price
Final Odometer Reading: 35,332

And Then There Were None
We walked into this test assuming we were riding the front of a wave — a tsunami of sales of full-size American-made rear-wheel-drive sedans. The 2008 Pontiac G8, we hoped, would prove the viability and marketability of such hardware. Ford would follow suit, bringing over the Aussie Falcon. Chevy would rebadge the G8 as a Caprice or Impala. We'd get the Holden VE Utility as an El Camino, and maybe a wagon, too!

And then the economy went bust.

And GM declared bankruptcy.

And Pontiac shut its doors.

And our dream died.

We remember when our 2008 Pontiac G8 GT only had 7,028 miles on the odometer, yet Editor in Chief Scott Oldham let go with an enthusiastic comment that ultimately summed up our year and a half: "This car just keeps surprising me. It's easily the best vehicle GM sells in America today.... When you look at the Pontiac's price, performance and package, it's easily the best of GM's best."

Edmunds purchased this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.

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