2006 Pontiac G6

Nov. 3, 2005
The Pontiac G6 does just about everything well. It's the right size (midsized), has the right power (167 hp from a 2.4-liter I-4), handles well, gets good mileage (34-mpg highway), and doesn't cost an arm and a leg ($18,865).

So right from the start, the G6 is a pleaser.

On the outside, the streamline profile and rear-quarter views are all eyecatching. Inside, the dash and control layout is modern and functional, as expected. The seat backs have slight "wings" or bolsters on the side to hold you in place, which you might need with higher-powered models.

A recent trend in Detroit interiors seems to shun the thousands of buttons for a functional few. I like that. You don't need the owners manual to figure out most of the controls, and if you can't figure out a button function, you probably don't need it. Another positive GM trend puts the ignition key on the dashboard where it's more visible and ergonomic instead of on the steering column.

The G6 had an I-4 engine with dual-overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder, and variable-valve timing that together produced 167 hp at 6,300 rpm. This is the lowest vibration four-cylinder engine I can recall. You expect to feel almost nothing from a V6, but when an I-4 performs similarly, you have to tip your hat to the engineers. Twin counterrotating balance shafts cancel second-order shaking forces common to in-line fours. The engine also gives the car impressive performance and great mileage. A 16.4-gallon tank lets you drive, theoretically, over 500 constant-velocity miles. The four-speed automatic shifts quickly to fourth even in slow traffic, keeping the engine at about 1,700 rpm and city mileage to about 23 mpg. I've noticed the four speed in my PT Cruiser keeps the engine at over 2,000 rpm in similar traffic.

Here's a feature the G6 had that other companies should license: the Oil-Life calculator. It tells when the oil should be changed based on time, temperature, and how the car is driven. Hence, there is no routine maintenance. For instance, at 3,881 miles on the odometer, the oil-life calculator indicated 69% of oil life was left. If the ratio holds, the system would indicate an oil change at about 12,000 miles. That makes much more sense than the knee jerk 3,000 to 4,000-mile intervals of other auto companies.

The body is stiff and quiet, the ride is good combination of sporty yet smooth, and four-wheel disc brakes feel solid. Another surprise is the power steering it's electric. If you've driven a car with electric steering before, it might have felt vague and slightly uncertain. Not this one. I thought it was the standard hydraulic version.

My only gripes deal with the buttons for the speed control they are too small. Drivers should be able to activate them without taking their eyes off the road. And the split grill on the front end looks too much like the Grand Am, Grand Prix, and GTO. I'd bet Pontiac stylists could find a better way to make the car look different and still fetching.

But that aside, the G6 is an all-around pleasant experience. Good performance and high mileage are enough to recommend this auto. Then consider the good looks, a comfortable ride, and what's not to like?

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