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Pontiac Bonneville



  • mlm4mlm4 Posts: 401
    The February 2000 issue of Car and Driver had a comparison test of near-luxury sedans priced around $30,000 ( ). The Bonneville came in eighth out of nine cars. Criticism is often leveled at the auto mags for being biased, although they vehemently claim that they are completely objective albeit with a slant towards the types of cars that they (and presumably their readers) prefer. My impression of the comparison was that C&D liked the car save for the quality issues; in comparison, the other cars were just as fun to drive, had similar levels of content, etc., but were more solid and less plasticky. I think GM has a serious image problem which is preventing the Bonneville (among many other cars) from being regarded in the same favorable light as European and Japanese competition. As far as the Bonneville's styling, let's agree that it's not for everyone, and as GM tries to trim it's model lines, it is going to go for vehicles that appeal to the broadest audience (I can't explain the Aztek). It's a shame that the heritage is being lost in the process, but so much for sentimentality.

    Here's C&D's verdict on the 2000 Bonneville SSEi in the comparison test (read the entire article if you haven't already):

    Pontiac Bonneville SSEi

    Highs: Punchy supercharged performance, solid handling, excellent structural rigidity.
    Lows: School-boy styling that exudes excess rather than excitement, a dirt tracker's dream motor.
    The Verdict: A solid, roadworthy sedan concealed beneath a sheetmetal shroud of silliness.
  • evandroevandro Posts: 1,108
    That's exactly the kind of bias I'm talking about. Why on Earth are they so critical about American cars styling, except when they look "euro", and are so hush-hush about the vanilla-flavored Japanese cars?

    The Bonnie fared very well in the test, however other cars with "pedigree" were judged best instead. If it was someone on the street, I'd understand, but this is from people who have actually driven those cars. A co-worker has a Volvo S80T and inside it looks as cheap as the Bonnie, with in-your-face plastic all around you. The difference is the price tag, about 50% higher, and some fake wood accents here and there.

    In conclusion, it's plain old bias and prejudice. For all the imports they have a lot of rationalizations about their opinions, even to the point of justifying the Volvo S70's styling! :^P In other cars that were "judged" better, one can count more actual problems mentioned than in the Bonnie, where only opinions abound. Or rather, one should count the number of ad pages by each manufacturer and try to stack them against this comparo... ;^)

    They plainly hate GM, maybe because it doesn't pamper them like the others...

    I buy my cars, not those magazine journalists, AKA, "opinion specialists". ;^)
  • I think it goes beyond obviously subjective matters, and even into performance testing. The tests and methods they use favor the types of cars they like.

    I would like to see 0-60, 1/4, and 30-50, 50-70 numbers from idle, without neutral dropping or brake torquing. I would also like to see skidpad with a radius equal to a real world turn (i.e. where length/width are benefits not detriments. I would also like to have them stop for oversteer and drift not just understeer.

    The braking tests are even a joke, they measure from when they begin pressing the peddle, so a car with little pedal travel could win even if it has less real stopping power. They also only brake as hard as they can before there is any tire squeal/skip. So its ok to launch a S2000 at 6000RPM, but unrealistic to push the brakes to the floor hard and fast on the bonnie.

    I have never had the cars they say are so much better even come clost to my GTP or GS in the real world.
  • ehaaseehaase Posts: 328
    Actually, through the end of September, 2001, Acura has sold 52,775 3.2TL's; Toyota has sold 64,777 Avalons, and Pontiac has sold 37,856 Bonnevilles. You can verify this by clicking the Data Center at

    This is the most reliable source for what is going on in the auto industry. I prefer the Bonneville to those other cars myself, but they just don't sell.

  • evandroevandro Posts: 1,108
    According to Autonews, through September, 58000 Bonies, 65000 TLs and 95000 Avalons.

    But if one adds other platform cousins, 35000 Aurora, 35000 Park Ave and, why not, 117000 Deville/Seville, it's the best selling full-size platform.

    Now, I don't think that GM is perfect and that some of the criticism is not deserved, but most of it is unfair and not called for, IMO.

  • mosaixmosaix Posts: 106
    I don't really understand why the Bonneville(and the Aurora for that matter) do not sell better. Call me crazy, but I just don't get cars like the Acura TL and Toyota Avalon. Can we say BORING!!! Maybe C&D doesn't like the Bonneville's styling, but at least it is distinctive. And the car is built on a very solid and high-end chassis. Take note, the Avalon shares it's chassis with the Camry while the TL is based on the Accord, both lower end cars. The Bonneville shares it's chassis with the Cadillac Seville and Deville. And the supercharged 3800 may be old tech, but it sure is a powerhouse and pretty darn reliable. And if you want a high tech motor, get an Oldsmobile Aurora 4.0 and you get a DOHC V8 for well under 40K. Try that with an Acura or Toyota. I currently have a 2001 Oldsmobile Intrigue GLS and with Olds being phased out in a year or so and with talk of the Bonneville being discontinued in a few years, I really don't know what I'll replace it with down the road. Hopefully I will be able to afford the Cadillac CTS then as that does look to be a promising car. In fact, Cadillac as a division looks very promising in the future, I just wish I could say that about other GM divisions.
  • mosaixmosaix Posts: 106
    95000 Avalons?? You are kidding! I know I see alot on the road, but I couldn't imagine that many. Good God people, it's a stretched Camry! I've said this before and I'll say it again, the average automobile customer has been seriously dumbed down over the past decade. Witness the sales success of worthless transportation appliances like the Camry and Avalon and failure of excellent driving cars like the Bonneville, Intrigue, and Aurora. Do those morons paying nearly 30K for an Avalon not realize it's a stretched Camry. They justify it by saying "but it's a Toyota." The old phrase "a fool and his money are soon parted" comes to mind.
  • is the perfect word to describe Camry. The fact that it has been the best selling car for the last 4 years just goes to show how insane the car buying public is. If you want a good laugh, go over to the Camry board - most of the people there want to buy a new 4 cyl over the 6 cyl. The more I see the new Bonnevilles, the more I like them. They are not cookie cutter cars like Accord and Camry.
  • zzoom1zzoom1 Posts: 31
    The Bonneville is simply, to me, one of the best looking cars on the road in an age when many of them look the SAME. Personally, I like the SE, but the SLE and SSE are certainly distinctive as well. Beyond the styling, the car is solid with good performance. Value wise, my SE with option packages has more features than other competitors costing thousands more. I like cars, but it's gotten to the point when I'm driving that I can't tell a TL from an Accord or a Camry from an ES300, or a Mazda from a Honda from a Toyota. To me, for the money, the Bonny (and the Aurora) are in a class by themselves.
  • evandroevandro Posts: 1,108
    Such savvy when buying cars is no surprise in this forum. :^) Honda, Toyota, Mazda, etc, are just transportation. The Bonneville, the Aurora, the Intrigue, etc, are cars to be driven and enjoyed. Who said that commuting has to be boring and not entertaining? ;^),
  • ab348ab348 Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, CanadaPosts: 6,389
    I recently subbed myself onto the Camry board because I figured (wrongly) that others there would find the new model as disappointingly-styled and priced as I do. What I am seeing instead are people who are simply enthralled with these things for reasons I cannot grasp. Having seen a number of them with their plastic gray hubcaps and plain trim I fail to see the attraction regardless of how reliable the thing may be. I can't understand it. I guess that Toyota mystique is more powerful than I thought. Having owned a new Toyota in the past I know that they are far from perfect.

    2017 Cadillac ATS Performance Premium 3.6, 1968 Oldsmobile Cutlass S Holiday Coupe

  • mlm4mlm4 Posts: 401
    A few comments: I see lots of 3.2TLs, but very few Avalons. One thing to consider, though, is that (to my knowledge) there are no 3.2TLs or Avalons in the rental fleets, but there are many Bonnevilles and those fleet sales are included in the overall production numbers. So there are even fewer Bonnies in people's garages than the 50 or 60,000 reported sold this year.
    As I mentioned a long time ago on this board, my parents went shopping to replace their '93 Bonneville SSE, one of the best cars they ever owned. I talked them into looking at an '01 Bonneville, and they did but were turned off by three things: less headroom than in the old Bonneville, too much powertrain noise, and a miserable sales experience at the dealer. Eventually they went with a Lexus LS430 because they wanted a quiet, smooth-riding, roomy sedan and not a performance sedan. But I think the sales experience speaks volumes about GM's woes too. They were treated far better by the folks at the Acura, Lexus, Volvo and BMW dealers they visited than they were at the Pontiac dealership.
    And a comment about GM's marketing: if you read the press releases and sales analyses that come out every month, Pontiac-GMC always focusus on the trucks and never on the Pontiacs. Those cars get overshadowed big time (both figuratively and literally!).
  • evandroevandro Posts: 1,108
    You're quite right about Pontiac dealers. I bought mine at the same dealer I got my previous Alero in another town almost 50mls from mine. Like before, no thrills, easy negotiation, total attention.

    The 2 Pontiac dealers in my town suck big time! One "erred" on the monthly payment sample calculation and tried in every way to push a car I didn't want. The other was better, but the sales people were clueless about the Bonneville; I had the impression they didn't care about making an effort to sell them.
  • I had the opposite experience. My Pontiac dealer is very attentive and helpful, and lets me take cars out by myself for the afternoon. I went to BMW to see what all the fuss is about. I thought the car was nothing special, GTP could kill it any day of the week. The dealer's people were also arrogant and unhelpful, only let you take a car around the block, and ignored you unless you had an appointment (which I did and they had to go looking for). They could get away with this because they had a showroom full of posers and strivers attempting to mortgage their lives from anything with a BMW logo. I was pretty upset considering I could have easily afforded the lease on the Z3 3.0 used for the test drive, or even a 740. However, because I actually wanted to test several cars, Z3 3.0, 330ci, 540i, and X5. They acted as if I wasn't ready yet. However, this will be their loss considering it the next 12 months I will probably be leasing two new cars, a daily driver and a sports/weekend car. I might wind up with a TransAM RAM AIR and a new Bonnie.
  • tpkentpken Posts: 1,108
    Good to see all the Bonneville talk this week. I'll add my 'Amen' to all that has been said above about what a great car this is and what a mystery it is that so many people blindly and mindlessly plunk down significant dollars for Toyotas and Hondas, etc. It's still unique to be in a new generation Bonneville and even more so for an Aurora - lending the driving/ownership experience an added sense of exclusivity.

    Saw a 2K2 SE model over the weekend on our mountain trip - noticed the slightly different front end right away as it approached in the opposite direction. Very nice.

    Enjoy your Bonnevilles everyone - we're a priviledged class of drivers without doubt!

  • mlm4mlm4 Posts: 401
    So I was curious and looked at's production figures. By their estimate, only 17,157 Bonnevilles have been built year-to-date (through 10/06/01). This is versus 57,518 built last year from 01/01/00-10/07/00. Yikes, what a drop-off!
  • evandroevandro Posts: 1,108
    You're right, only now did I notice that it's about LAST year! Unbelievably sad... :^(
  • theicemantheiceman Posts: 736
    Yeah, I'm afraid that the Bonneville looks pretty doomed - they are just not selling. From what I am gathering, the full-size segment is not too healthy in the first place and the Bonneville has a stodgy reputation but edgy appearance that doesn't pull in full-size buyers. The price doesn't help either - putting it square against some desireable "near luxury" cars. While the Bonneville beats the pants off of them in so many ways, its name has no panache - and the '00 redesign has done nothing in this area.

    I suspect that the next model re-do will try to have current Bonneville buyers served by either the new Grand Prix or the new LeSabre.

    As for the Avalon, it's a Buick but even more so. I'll give it the reliability reputation but little more. Camry? I've owned one (a '92) and others have been in my family. It's the current-day Valiant. Despite being utterly boring and offering few features and possessing queasy handling, even the Valiant attracted its diehard supporters. I can honestly say that Camrys have never "excited" me. One of the things that actually drew me to the Bonneville.

    Sorry if I'm coming across as gloomy but I don't see it as all too bad: 1st of all, we'll have to see what sort of official pronouncements come out; and 2ndly, a car on its way out could represent some tremendous baragins....

    Can an SSEi be in my future?
  • jeffbogjeffbog Posts: 63
    Glad to see you are still enjoying the car. I've been lurking here for a while. I decided on a 2001 SLE after GM steped up to the plate and repurchased the Impala. Once I started having front end problems, they could do nothing to correct it.

    The Bonneville is great. I haven't had the car that long, but I sure to enjoy the ride. Especially on the highway.

    Thought I would contribute to the sales figures!

    Iceman, I think we have similar looking garages. My wife picked up a Grand Prix GT about four months and 8000+ miles ago. She traded an Escort. Loves the car, no problems at all.

    Hey GM/Pontiac: Don't get rid of the Bonneville, just beef up your advertising campaign!
  • tpkentpken Posts: 1,108
    Glad to hear you're driving a Bonneville these days. I'm curious about your comparison between the two cars since Impala LS is still my close second favorite car.

    Welcome to this (more and more) exclusive club.

    Best wishes for many miles and years of enjoyable Bonneville driving.

  • tpkentpken Posts: 1,108
    Wow that is truly unbelievable and disheartening. No wonder I don't see many at the local dealer. My guess is that alarge percentage of those bought in 2001 went to rental agencies too. I see a lot of Enterprise stickers attached to SE models. National probably has them too. In fact that's where my 2000 SE came from.

  • ehaaseehaase Posts: 328
    SUV's - still very popular despite higher gasoline prices - have helped kill the full size car market. Also, a lot of people find Camrys and Accords big enough for them and find the quality reputation appealing.

    Also, I think that one reason GM's full size cars are so expensive is that GM does try to redesign them every 6 to 8 years or so, while Ford is still using the basic 1979 platform for its big cars - with the costs long amortized. GM has to try to recoup some of its development costs. Maybe - from a financial standpoint - GM should have kept its big cars on the 1977 platform - even though its more modern sedans may handle and perform much better than Ford's geriatric models.
  • smfransmfran Posts: 432
    that people choose a particular car. Although I've owned 5 Bonnevilles, my wife has a Toyota van. Demographics, taste, financial issues, etc. all contribute to why people choose the vehicles they do. I don't try to figure out what people see in what they purchase. I do my homework and choose what's best for me.
  • theicemantheiceman Posts: 736
    Stephen: well put. Significantly, most of us here had widely different reasons for buying the Bonneville - and we can all justify purchasing either the SE, SLE or SSEi.

    Jeff: There are a few of us Bonneville-Grand Prix couples out there but the SLE-GT combination is tad rarer. Ours are dark bronzemist ('00 SLE) and dark blue ('01 GT) and we are still VERY HAPPY with both of them.

    On advertising support for the Bonneville:I spoke with a friendly neighbourhood Pontiac Sales Manager last weekend - Pontiac's lack of advertising support for the Bonneville is seen as a reason for the poor sales. No support? Dealers won't order them in the first place and customers won't show up looking for them. The few who do have to wait months to get them in. Avalons and LeSabres are on the lot.

    The irony is that there's so much to advertise: interior comfort and room, performance, handling, "best pick" in IIHS crash tests, excellent NHTSA crash test performance - probably the best balance between family comfort and safety on the one hand and sports car performance on the other. After all, we bought a Bonneville as our alternative to a minivan - after 3 years of owning a minivan, I couldn't wait to get out of one.

    And yet....

    We had to discover the car all on our own - I have YET to see ANY advertising featuring the Bonneville up here in Canada - save being lumped in with a number of cars in "year-end clearance" ads. In contrast, I have seen several ads for the Toyota Avalon, the Acura TL and the Buick Park Avenue. Perhaps GM is having a hard time finding a media vehicle which lets them target their Bonneville advertising - perhaps they have indeed found them but I am just not part of the market they are trying to reach. Either way, it makes you wonder what the thinking is. If you're not going to advertise, why bother building them?

    Is it possible that GM doesn't see the Bonneville as consistent with their desired future positioning of Pontiac and is prepared to let the car wither on the vine?

    As for poor sales killing the Bonneville: YTD, it is neck-and-neck with the Regal - a nameplate that is said to survive. In contrast, the Century outsells either 3:1 and it's scheduled to be mothballed. No, I think that it's widely accepted that GM must pare both marques and model names and it is increasingly obvious that the Bonneville is a current target.

  • mlm4mlm4 Posts: 401
    Television and print advertising for the Bonneville has been sporadic since the '00 model was introduced. There were a couple of TV spots highlighting the car's personalization features and hyping the "excitement" while only glancing over the specifics. Most notable was the Thomas Crown-style ad in which "our hero" escapes in a black Bonneville only to foil the "villan" with a bunch of idential black Bonnevilles weaving around the garden in front of a large mansion. It didn't do much for me in terms of selling the car, rather it seemed to be playing off of consumers' penchant for intrigue (not the Olds!) and trying to associate that with driving this car.
    Presently there is a TV spot which highlights the performance comparison with the Chrysler 300M, Lincoln LS and Lexus GS 300. This to me seems to be a more reasonable marketing strategy, whether or not the numbers really add up. And it has been getting more airplay than before. I forget where I've seen it, I think on the broadcast networks mostly, maybe some cable channels.
  • hey all !

    I have to go back many posts now - but I'll try to chip in on the topics.

    waterspots - claybar will help sometimes. white vinegar also works great.

    waxing - yea I know there is a forum for that - but i find spending 4-5 hours some weeknight detailing the car to be very relaxing. I can, in a rush do the zaino process including the wash and dry in under 1 hour if I hustle. even before i started selling Zaino, i still used a lot of the different products and actually looked forward to a nice weekend day to spend outside pampering my baby.

    there are levels of car care - and to achieve the levels of what most people are used to - any old wax and a couple of hours is all you need. couple of times a year is ok - depending on your weather conditions. most store bought waxes dont last all summer on a car - a few weeks is about average.
    I presently have about 15 coats of Zaino on mine - and will continue to apply more throughout the winter - it reminds me of summer to bring the car indoors here at work and spend the day (or sometimes the night till 3 or 4 am) going over it.

    advertising - yes, its a sad state of affairs - that we get excited at the glimpse we sometimes get of a tv commercial (remember one that played at some big sporting event a few months back?) or a print ad. then again - its not a car for the masses - not at $45K Canadian for a SSEi it isnt.
    I would like to se more advertising - but the decision to kill the car means we will be lucky to ever see any from now on . . . :(

    I'll try to come back more often -

    Dan, how's your dad doing ?
  • stnelstnel Posts: 338
    Thanks for your advice on watermarks and waxing. Unfortunately, I don't think I fit into the category of finding car work relaxing. Wish I did! Although washing a car isn't too bad once I get started.

    I'm not sure how much difference in size there is between the Grand Prix and the Bonneville but I imagine GM decided they don't need two sporty sedans that are close in size if they're cutting back. Maybe they don't want any sporty cars at all, though, since they've discontinued the Camaro and Firebird. I hope the Grand Prix isn't next!
  • odin2odin2 Posts: 5
    just purchased a 2002 Bonneville SE. First time Pontiac owner. I paid 25900 dollars out the door(includes a 800 GM card credit). This board is pretty knowledgeable, did I get a good buy. Car had 12 miles on it, built 9/01, lost my head after I drove it IT IS GREAT. Any advice for break in period, anything I should know about the car. Thanks a lot. Your comments here made me decide to buy the 2002
  • jim237jim237 Posts: 10
    I agree with many of you that GM needs to step up their Pontiac Bonneville ads . I love my 2000 SSEi and it is such a kick to drive. The first thing I noticed about the car was the look!! It was so different from any other automobile manufacture. Ground effects, narrowed front, tail lights, wing and dual pipes. What a sports package with all the perks for under $ 34,000. Winston Cup Nascar Racing is Hot now. GM , look at what you have to market in the SSEI. The car looks like a Nascar racer complete with the ground effects, fat fenders, aero design and no chrome. Don,t you think the Nascar fans would love to own a car that reminds them of the real thing!! If GM would put a advertising campaign together with the comparisons, and pictures of a SSEi and a Nascar car running side by side on track, I think they would and do have a winner!!
  • theicemantheiceman Posts: 736
    Congratulations and welcome to the club (membership price is rather steep and the benefits not that exclusive but, as tpken has pointed out, we are an elite group here....)

    Can't really comment on how well you did (Canadian prices are so different) but the price sounds quite decent.

    Built in 9/01? By that I'm supposing you mean September '01. That's pretty fast to the market.

    Again, congrats!
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