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Memorial Day weekend in a Pontiac G6

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At such a low price, it made sense to rent instead of take the Regal. I had rented a compact. When I got there, they had no cars. They gave me a Trailblazer. They are nice, but not stunning. And even with a 4.2 Vortec 6, they are NOT economical. However, it was the lack of a canvas in the rear that caused me to take it back a few hours later.

"Please give me something with a trunk."

"How about a G6?"


The overall stance of the G6 inspires confidence. It's rakish and the wheels are planted at the outer corners to the greatest extent possible, elongating the wheelbase. The rear quarter view is probably the most attractive. The front fascia is somewhat attractive, being more angular and less pointy than what is found in the Grand Prix. In fact, the G6s front end should have been grafted onto the Grand Prix instead of the pointier features its bigger brother has.

I can't help but make comparisons to the Grand Prix, as this is sort of a baby Grand Prix...much the same way the Alero was a baby Intrigue, right down to the similarities in the dashboards of those 2 Oldsmobiles. Getting inside, the comparisons continue. The circular vents, in-dash ignition (kudos) and smallish stiffly bolstered buckets (demerits) say Grand Prix ... again. However, I instantly missed the wrap-around effect of the Grand Prix which has a very interesting dashboard. This dashboard is more linear and easier to get to know. Controls are logically placed and the gauges are nicely clustered. Interestingly enough, at night, they are a nicer hue of red instead of orange. Between this and the more reasonable proportions of the gauges, it was nicer than the Grand Prix. I liked the few smartly used faux wood inserts but dread any urethane steering wheel...once you've piloted behind a stitched leather wheel, it's hard to go back. It makes for a car that feels completely different, in my mind.

The driving experience is also mixed. There is no doubt that the G6 can be described as taut and athletic. It is, if I am not mistaken, on the Malibu platform, which rides more serenely but doesn't handle as crisply. I don't attribute this to the EPS (electric power steering) the Malibu has ... it has to be the tuning of the suspension bits. In fact, this G6 did not have the EPS, probably owing to the fact that it was 3.5 V6 equipped. These come with conventional hydraulic power steering, evidently, and the road feel was definitely present. (Personally, I don't mind the electric steering mated to the 4 bangers which makes the handling very nimble). The 3.5 V6 makes the car quite lively, at over 200 horses pulling this little sled. The mileage wasn't as good as it could have been...some 23.5 mpg in mixed driving, but I had the A/C on and much of it was in mountain terrain (to get the inflatable mattress onto Lake Tahoe!). Interestingly enough, this 3.5 has VVT. So, now, this engine is not only found in the Impy and the MC, but this car and the Aura, such that they are putting out about half a million of those powerplants per year! Steering and response is almost go-kart like, so it is a fun car to drive. It feels quite stable at 65 to 70 mph and on winding roads. However, it is far from being a boulevardier. Interstate 80, as one starts approaching the higher elevations in the Sierras, has abonimable pavement surface, probably because of all the chains that have rutted it. On these surfaces, it rode busily. Not only that, outside noise was not that well contained. Other larger GM cars, and even the Malibu for that matter, I've rented and driven over this route did not cope with the pavement as poorly as the G6 did in terms of noise and vibration. Also, any imperfections on poorly maintained samll 2-lane mountain roads transmitted into the cabin without being filtered out. Again, even the Grand Prix seemed to handle these better.

In short, the G6 is a sensible package. It is not as comfortable as I would like, neither in the ergonomics of its seating nor in the isolation of road imperfections and wind noise. But, it is likeable -- definitely more so than its predecessor, the Grand Am. It's an ideal car for a student, someone just starting out in the work world, or someone looking for competent transportation in the high teens (in terms of $s) if it were 4-cylinder equipped. To those audiences, I recommend it.

Edited by trinacriabob
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  • 2 months later...

I think the EPS thing is really a like it or hate it thing. I have it on mine coupled with the V6 and I couldn't go back. Tried my friend's rental G6 with the HPS and it just felt so heavy.

As for wind noise, I don't seem to have any issues with mine. But we're comparing an owned car and a rental.

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