You know, there was a time when a tattoo made you stand out in a crowd. But nowadays, we’re so buried in tattoos, dreadlocks and body piercing, that you almost have to set yourself on fire to get noticed. Well, that’s a problem shared by many General Motors sedans. How do you stand out from your corporate siblings, when you share the same chassis, suspension and even drive trains? Well, Pontiac claims their all-new 2000 Bonneville does so by providing drivers an “unparalleled combination of power, control and luxury.” Well, that sounds like a good start.
Pontiac calls the all-new-from-the ground-up 2000 Bonneville, “Luxury With Attitude.” A cocky phrase that certainly seems fitting for this eye-catching full-size sedan. It also denotes a design boldness that Pontiac hopes will restore the Bonneville’s sagging sales to at least 1994 levels, when over 92,000 Bonnies motored off the lots and into American driveways.
Much of the Bonneville’s attitude comes by way of its highly aggressive styling and wide, low slung posture. The theme of animalistic headlamps, very pronounced grille, and inset driving lamps is carried throughout the Bonneville’s three trim levels.
The new road-hugging Bonneville features a segment leading 62.6 inch track width in the front, while the long, low-appearance profile comes from a wheelbase that has grown 2 inches to 112.2 and a steeper rake windshield.
SLE and SSEi attitude rides on standard 17 inch wheels and rubber, while an upswept rear deck, and optional lid-top spoiler, completes the Bonneville’s wedge-shaped profile, and muscular rear haunches that contains the 62.1 inch wide track rear.
Even more of the Bonnie’s attitude can be found under the hood. And it’s especially apparent if you’re behind the wheel of on SSEi like our tester.
There you’ll find a supercharged variant of GM’s reliable 3800 pushrod V-6 engine that powers all Bonnevilles. Accompanied by the wonderful whine of the blower, this heavy breather exhales 240 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque, running through a beefed up 4-speed automatic transmission that’s good for runs to 60 in 7.9 seconds. Quarter mile passes average 16.4 seconds at 90 mph. But our drivers felt the tranny’s programming to shift well before the red line robbed the Bonneville of valuable high-rev thrust.
Arresting the Bonneville’s thrust, when necessary, is accomplished by standard 4-wheel disc, anti-lock brakes. With large 11.9 inch vented discs in the front, 11.1 inch in the rear, stops from 60 were completed in a short 118 feet. Our drivers noted the excellent pedal feel, the car’s stability, and the Bonnie’s rather pronounced nose dive.
Out on the highway this full-size Pontiac delivers a ride that would make its Bonneville namesakes not only proud, but a very envious. As the new Bonneville provides a comfortable, balanced ride and is well equipped to maintain its composure in a wide spectrum of driving conditions. That’s due in part to the latest G platform, one it shares with the Buick LeSabre. Torsional stiffness has jumped 62 percent, while bending resistance is up 27 percent. There’s also the MacPherson strut/coil spring front suspension with a 30 millimeter stabilizer bar, and an independent coil spring set up in the rear that features shocks with automatic level control.
During a run through our low speed slalom, the Bonneville exhibited a fair amount of understeer, and a minimal amount of body roll allowing for quick and controlled side to side transitions. Steering feel is light and positive, but don’t expect a lot of feedback.
The Bonneville also comes with two other weapons in its car-control arsenal. Traction Control, optional on SE and SLE models, is standard on the SSEi, as is GM’s highly touted StabiliTrak stability control system.
So now that we’ve covered the Bonneville’s attitude, let’s talk about yours. And it should improve once you ease yourself into the Bonnie’s sporty and very luxurious cabin. Greeting both driver and front seat passenger in our SSEi tester are supportive leather-trimmed buckets with 12-way power, heat, and a Catcher’s Mitt-design that provides additional support in the event of rear end collisions. And it’s just the beginning of what Pontiac calls “a driver focused, adaptive interior.”
The driver faces a tilting steering wheel that’s also mounted with redundant controls for the stereo. It fronts a comprehensive set of red-lit gauges and an equally useful driver information center just to the right, and the available EyeCue Head Up display that projects vehicle speed, turn signals, and even stereo selections, onto the windshield. The top-of-the-line Delco/Bose stereo system incorporates an AM/FM/Cassette/CD player with 7-band equalizer and eight speakers with ear pleasing results. Equally pleasing in their simple functionality are the automatic dual zone climate controls just below. A pollen filter is included, too. While little touches like a tilt-while-backing passenger side mirror and side impact airbags give Bonneville SSEi pilots an added measure of security.
That same attention to detail is also carried over into the rear seats where one finds ample room for three adults, an armrest with two cupholders, and concave front seatbacks for more knee room. A ski-sized pass-thru leads to a large trunk with 18 cubic feet of storage space.
Our Bonneville SSEi tester is priced right in the thick of the entry-level luxury niche with an MSRP of $32,250. While slightly higher priced than the Chrysler 300M, the Bonneville is far better equipped. And when matched against a loaded Lexus ES 300, this Bonneville’s price makes it a clear winner. $24,295 will pick up a Bonneville SE for the more budget and less performance minded folks. While $27,995 will buy an upgraded SLE.
From start to finish, the combination of a comfortable and controlled ride, nicely balanced handling, the rush of kick-in-the-pants performance, stand out styling inside and out, plus a host of little touches usually found only on pure luxury cars, the 2000 Pontiac Bonneville is clearly worthy of serious consideration from premium sedan shoppers. Luxury with attitude, indeed. You got a problem with that?
Engine: 3800 Pushrod V-6 Horsepower 240 Torque 280 Lb Feet 0-60 MPH 7.9 Seconds 1/4 Mile 16.4 Seconds @ 90 MPH 60-0 MPH 118
Torque: 280 Lb Feet
0-60 MPH: 7.9 Seconds
1/4 Mile: 16.4 Seconds @ 90 MPH
60-0 MPH: 118