1996 Pontiac Grand Am Review

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Pontiac Grand Am model years
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Edmunds' Expert Review

Vehicle overview

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.

1996 Highlights

New styling, a new base engine, dual airbags and body-mounted seatbelts.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 1996 Pontiac Grand Am.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

3 out of 5 stars
Typical GM experience.
SE 2dr Coupe
While the interior stuff is nicely located, the seats aren't good for entering and leaving the vehicle. Trunk space is cramped compared to others. Engine response is good when traction control is off. When turned on, there is a noticeable help with rain/ice slippage. Several components around the engine required awkward maintenance; Various sensors, valves, a lead pipe from the AC. . . but the engine itself, as well as transmission were strong. This I've come to find typical in GM engines.
2.75 out of 5 stars
96 Grand Am disappointing
Ken Stufflebeam,02/22/2006
SE 4dr Sedan
I bought this car for my teenage sons to drive, 98k, SE model, 4-door, 4 cyl, auto. Thought it would be economical and practical transportation. Trans failed at 108k, no heater now - core failure, many repairs required, gas mileage not great for a 4 cyl, 21 city 26 hwy, squeeks, creaks, rattles. In all fairness it was worn out when I got it and you get what you pay for.
4 out of 5 stars
GT 2dr Coupe
This car is AMAZING!! I painted it and it looks like a race car! my car is so fast! I have a cold air intake and dc sports racing exhaust with a cat back. It sounds great. I run a 11 second 1/2 mile! It tops about 105 due to rev reduction. Trans spinns great!
3.13 out of 5 stars
Used GT
GM User,06/05/2002
GT 4dr Sedan
I bought my wife a used '96 Grand Am GT with 42,000 miles. I thought that was low milage considering we bought it in '02. I went ahead and purchased an extended warranty, thank god. After owning the vehicle for one week we had to replace the Window motor driver side, the head gasket, the O2 Sensor, and the Alternator. Granted, we purchased used so I don't know how the vehicle was being maintained by the previous owner. But I've heard similar problems with this model from other owners.


NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver4 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    DriverNot Rated
    PassengerNot Rated
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    RolloverNot Rated
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Not Tested
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Not Tested
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test

More about the 1996 Pontiac Grand Am

Used 1996 Pontiac Grand Am Overview

The Used 1996 Pontiac Grand Am is offered in the following submodels: Grand Am Sedan, Grand Am Coupe. Available styles include GT 2dr Coupe, SE 2dr Coupe, SE 4dr Sedan, and GT 4dr Sedan. Pre-owned Pontiac Grand Am models are available with a 2.4 L-liter gas engine, with output up to 150 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 1996 Pontiac Grand Am comes with front wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 5-speed manual.

What's a good price on a Used 1996 Pontiac Grand Am?

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Which used 1996 Pontiac Grand Ams are available in my area?

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Find a used Pontiac Grand Am for sale - 3 great deals out of 15 listings starting at $18,894.

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Find a used certified pre-owned Pontiac Grand Am for sale - 1 great deals out of 22 listings starting at $9,948.

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Should I lease or buy a 1996 Pontiac Grand Am?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

Check out Pontiac lease specials
Check out Pontiac Grand Am lease specials