Pontiac G8 Sport Truck 2010

Pontiac G8 Sport Truck

Pontiac G8 Sport Truck

The 2010 Pontiac G8 sport truck blurs the line between cars and trucks and is creating an all-new segment in the North American car market. This dramatically different vehicle blends the sporty handling of a performance coupe with the cargo capabilities of a light truck.

Based on the all-new Pontiac G8 performance sedan, the newest member of the G8 family has a longer wheelbase and a cargo bed suitable for either work or recreation. The Pontiac G8 sport truck significantly stretches Pontiac’s commitment to style and performance and is expected to arrive in dealers’ showrooms in late 2009.

“Pontiac has never shied away from offering segment-defining vehicles, going back to the original GTO,” said Jim Bunnell, Buick-Pontiac-GMC general manager. “There’s simply nothing else like the Pontiac G8 sport truck on the road today, and we definitely believe that there are customers who will be excited by its distinctive design, performance and cargo capabilities.”

Consumer named

Another unique aspect of this new vehicle is the fact that it will be named by a consumer. Consumers can visit http://www.pontiac.com/namethiscar and submit their name ideas. “As an important part of the G8 family, we know that ‘sport truck’ doesn’t fully describe the vehicle’s ability to blur the lines between sports car and truck,” said Craig Bierley, Pontiac marketing director. “Because its fans will surely be as unique as the vehicle itself, we’re giving them a voice in selecting a name that reflects its appeal.” The winning entry will be announced April 15, 2008.

// // Design

The Pontiac G8 sport truck maintains the same sporty exterior design as its namesake sedan. Flared fenders wrap around the 18-inch wheels and give it a wide, confident stance. The roofline has a coupe-like profile that reflects the vehicle’s performance pedigree.

The doors, roof and exterior panels aft of the B-pillars are unique from the G8 sedan. One-piece outer body panels give the vehicle a sleek appearance. Wrap-around taillamps and fully concealed tailgate hinges add to the sculpted look. A color-coordinated, soft tonneau cover conceals and protects items in the cargo bed from the weather.

Performance

The sport truck draws its strength from the same powerful 6.0L V-8 engine used in the G8 GT. It puts out 361 horsepower (270 kW) and 385 lb.-ft. (522 Nm) of torque. The combination of a six-speed automatic transmission and Active Fuel Management technology provides both car-like fuel economy and an unexpected 0-to-60 time of 5.4 seconds.

While these performance numbers are respectable by sports car standards, the Pontiac G8 sport truck offers flexibility unlike that of a sports car. A 73.9-inch (1878 mm) cargo bed has 42.7 cubic feet (1208 L) of cargo space and a durable composite bed liner. It also can carry a payload of more than 1,074 pounds (488 kg) and tow a 3,500-pound (1,600 kg) trailer.

Structure

The Pontiac G8 sport truck is based on the same rear-wheel-drive architecture as the G8 performance sedan. However, the sport truck’s body structure was reinforced in key areas to support its cargo and towing duties. More than 60 new components were added to strengthen the structure. Compared to the sedan, the 118.5-inch (3,009 mm) wheelbase is approximately four inches longer and the overall length is six inches longer.

Suspension and wheels

A four-wheel independent suspension with electronic stability control delivers confident handling, whether loaded with weekend home-improvement supplies or towing a pair of personal watercraft to the lake.

The steering box is located ahead of the front axle line for a quick, direct feel. The sport truck’s front stabilizer bar is one mm larger than the sedan, and the rear suspension has been enhanced to support payloads without adversely affecting handling.

The Pontiac G8 sport truck rides on 18-inch machine-faced aluminum wheels with a P245/45R18 summer performance tire. All-season tires are available. An optional Sports Package includes 19-inch machine-faced aluminum wheels with P245/40R19 summer performance tires.

Brakes and steering

The sport truck shares the G8 GT’s four-wheel disc brake system, featuring 12.64-inch front and 12.76-inch rear rotors. Front rotor thickness is 1.0 inch, while the rear rotors are 0.87-inch thick. Twin-piston, front alloy calipers and vented rotors and single-piston, alloy rear calipers with vented rotors are standard, as is ABS.

Comfort and convenience

Given its heritage, it’s not surprising that the Pontiac G8 sport truck offers many of the same creature comforts as the G8 GT, such as:

  • Air conditioning with electronic dual-zone climate control
  • Cruise control
  • Driver Information Center
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • Tilt/telescoping steering wheel with DIC and radio controls
  • Power windows/locks/mirrors
  • Remote keyless entry and remote start
  • Theft-deterrent alarm system

Fully-bolstered, four-way adjustable cloth seats are standard. Heated, six-way leather seats are available. They can be customized with two-tone, black-and-red inserts and a coordinating gauge cluster.

Behind the seats is a surprisingly large interior cargo area with more than 8.5 cubic feet (245 liters) of storage space. There are two covered storage compartments beneath the load floor and a pair of cargo nets.

Sound system

The Pontiac G8 sport truck’s 230-watt Blaupunkt AM/FM/six-disc CD changer has an MP3 input and five speakers. The 6.5-inch audio display controls both the sound and climate control systems.

Safety and security

A full list of safety features are standard, including:

  • StabiliTrak electronic vehicle stability system
  • Tire pressure monitoring system
  • Dual-stage frontal air bags with a passenger sensing system
  • Head-curtain side air bags
  • Side thorax air bags
  • Three-point safety belts in all seating positions
  • Safety belt pretensioners
  • OnStar
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Pontiac Vibe GT

Pontiac Vibe GT

Pontiac Vibe GT

The tight build quality, and the odd body style all appealing on the 2009 Pontiac Vibe GT. But once we started looking at the details, we realized it was a Toyota. The hard flooring in the cargo area and the shape of the instrument cluster perfectly matched what we had just seen on the 2009 Toyota Matrix, and the similarities don’t stop there. Both cars had the same 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, which someone on staff suggested might be GM’s most advanced engine.

However, there are differences, most notably in an area we pay special attention to, the car’s head unit. Where the Toyota Matrix can be had with an in-dash navigation system, the Pontiac Vibe just has a little blue OnStar button that connects you with a nice person who can tell you how to get where you are going. In the Matrix, you can opt for a nine-speaker stereo system if you don’t get navigation, but the Vibe GT comes standard with a seven-speaker audio system, and you still get the little blue button. The Vibe/Matrix represents an extreme in customer choice, where you can not only choose from myriad options and power trains, but also even what badge your car will wear.

Test the tech: A small car on a long trip
Some masochistic urge led us to take the 2009 Pontiac Vibe GT on a road trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles, which meant a good 12 hours of seat time. At least we were well set for music, as our Vibe GT had XM satellite radio, a stereo that could read our MP3 CDs, and an auxiliary jack for our MP3 player. We set out on a sunny Monday afternoon, driving south on Highway 101.

For this first leg of the trip we had plenty of traffic, and spent a lot of time working the five-speed manual transmission. We liked the solid feel of this shifter, which took away some of the frustration of stop-and-go traffic. We put an MP3 CD on random and turned up the volume to appreciate the 320 watts from this Monsoon audio system. During this trip, we had plenty of time to evaluate the audio quality. The amp for this system helps the quality a lot, but the system’s downfall are its speakers. There’s a big subwoofer in back, which gives music a lot of depth, but the tweeters and woofers are merely good. They reproduce highs and mids well, but they don’t contribute to a broad audio experience.

In the hills south of San Jose and on the Grapevine leading into Los Angeles, we tested out the engine’s power. In fifth and even fourth gear, there’s no real passing power–you have to drop it down to third if you need to get moving in a hurry. But climbing the hills we could maintain speed easily in third, holding at 60 mph or 70 mph. The handling was effortless, with the car’s responsive steering helping us keep to our lane. We could also make quick lane shifts easily, as long as we were geared down far enough.

We crossed over to Interstate 5 at Paso Robles, and hit the blue button so we could ask for directions to our Los Angeles destination. We told the nice man who answered the address we wanted, and he asked us if we had someone else in the car who could write down the directions he was about to give us. That sounded very quaint to our tech-focused ears, but that was the only option, as the Vibe GT didn’t support downloadable turn-by-turn directions we’ve seen in other GM cars, such as the Saturn Aura Green Line. As we didn’t have someone else in the car, the OnStar representative read out the directions and had OnStar record his recitation so we could access it from the car at any time. This kind of navigation help just doesn’t stand up to a GPS system with maps.

While talking to the nice man from OnStar, we had some difficulty hearing and being heard, as there was plenty of road noise while we careened at 80 mph down the freeway. During this trip, we crossed every manner of road surface, and got to hear each one’s distinct song. We found it particularly rough where the paving crews at work on the freeway left gaps between new asphalt and the old. In these places, the Vibe GT would nearly take flight.

We concluded at the end of the trip that while the Vibe wasn’t particularly comfortable for such a long trip, but we were able to make good time. Especially in the long, flat sections, we were able to set the pace for the cars around us. Best of all, though, we got an average of 28.18 mpg, topping the Vibe GT’s 28 mpg highway rating. We got this fuel economy despite time spent in San Francisco and Los Angeles traffic along with many hours traveling more than 70 mph.

In the cabin
We were lucky to have the 2009 Pontiac Vibe GT as opposed to the lesser trim Vibe 1.8L, Vibe 2.4L, and Vibe AWD. None of the other trims get or have the option for the Monsoon audio system, instead being stuck with a four speaker system. We mentioned a few criticisms of the Monsoon system above, but we’re sure it sounds far better than the base system.

The in-dash head unit includes a single CD slot that can read MP3 CDs, and there is an auxiliary input right on the faceplate. The stereo interface is well-designed, with a very usable tab structure that you can manipulate using the preset buttons. Although we don’t care for the look of the electrofluorescent display, we like that you can use the tabs to select categories from XM or folders on an MP3 CD.

We mentioned OnStar’s poor substitute for navigation above. OnStar also provides a variety of other services, as long as your subscription is up to date. You can get phone service through OnStar, although that means a separate phone number for your car, which isn’t useful if everyone is calling you on your cell phone. The only other notable tech feature in the Vibe GT is the AC outlet. We tested that outlet in the Toyota Matrix, and were able to recharge a laptop and a media player in the same amount of time it would take to recharge them from a wall socket.

The 2009 Pontiac Vibe GT, along with the 2.4L and AWD trims, comes with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine producing 158 horsepower and 162 foot-pounds of torque. It’s plenty of engine for this size of a car, giving adequate power to get the Vibe moving. The car can also be had with a 1.8-liter four cylinder engine, a power plant we recently tested in the Toyota Corolla. From our experience in the Corolla, the 1.8-liter Vibe probablyperforms pretty well. As mentioned above, the five-speed manual transmission felt solid, and we enjoyed using the shifter. But you can also get the Vibe GT with a five-speed automatic transmission that has a manual shift option.

As the GT version of the Vibe, Pontiac includes a stabilizer bar mounted at the top of the front shock points. While this bar added some rigidity, the Vibe GT wasn’t a car we really wanted to thrash around. The body style gives it a higher center of gravity than a Honda Civic Si or a Mini Cooper,either of which we would prefer over the Vibe GT for sport driving.

For mileage, the EPA rates the 2009 Pontiac Vibe GT at 21 mpg city and 28 mpg highway. Our average, with an emphasis on high-speed freeway driving, came in at 28.18 mpg, and impressive number. As of this review, the emissions rating wasn’t available for the Vibe GT.

In sum
The 2009 Pontiac Vibe GT has a base price of $19,310. As our only option, we had a $700 sunroof. With the $585 destination charge, the total for our test car came in at $20,595. Included in the price is XM satellite radio with three months of service, and OnStar with one year of the Safe and Sound plan. Stability and traction control, along with a tire pressure monitor, are all standard.

Although OnStar offers some of the services you would get from a navigation system and Bluetooth integration, it falls short of the actual cabin gadgets, hurting the Vibe GT’s cabin tech score. The stereo is good, but not great, which helps a little. Overall, it’s not much of a tech car in the cabin. For engine performance, we are impressed by its fuel economy. We also like the way the five-speed manual transmission shifts. It is an easy car to drive, but the ride can be harsh and it’s not particularly fast.