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The Best & Worst Cars That Forgotten Brand Pontiac Ever Made

Cameron Eittreim August 5, 2022

Photo Credit: GM Authority

1999 Pontiac Grand Prix (Worst)

For 1999, the Grand Prix grew but not in a good way. The car went from being the slender, well-designed pinnacle of GM design, to a cushioned large family sedan that shared its underpinnings with Buick and Oldsmobile models. That isn’t to say this generation of the Grand Prix was horrible. But, it wasn’t the best car you could get for the money (via Classic Car Database).

Photo Credit: GM Authority

This generation of the Grand Prix was still notable, the car had a decent run in the NASCAR circuit. GM would try to position this Grand Prix as the exciting family car. Unfortunately, the only people who bought into that hype were rental car fleets and consumers looking for a deal on something heavily discounted.

Photo Credit: Car Domain

2000 Pontiac Bonneville (Best)

For the 2000 model year, the Pontiac Bonneville was completely redesigned and could be considered one of the best redesigns in automotive history. The car was completely changed from the ground up, perhaps most noticeable was the styling. But under the hood, the new Bonneville also packed a punch with a supercharged V6 engine (via Classic Car Database).

Photo Credit: Car Domain

The car proved popular with consumers, something that the outgoing Bonneville model never did. Consumers were fond of the bold styling, and the engine provided a nice boost in power. This is by far one of the most common generations of the Bonneville that you’ll still see on the road today.

Photo Credit: Motor 1

2001 Pontiac Aztek (Worst)

Is there any surprise that the Aztek is one of the worst Pontiac models ever made? Probably not. But still, take one look at the car even today, and you will instantly recognize it. The Aztek was the ultimate blend of ugliness and lack of functionality. There was nothing to like about the car at all. The Aztek had some unique features, such as a built-in drink cooler that was also removable. But the design of the car was hideous and most consumers couldn’t get over it (via Classic Car Database).

Photo Credit: Edmunds

Surprisingly enough, after the widespread success of the hit TV show “Breaking Bad,” where Walter White drove a Pontiac Aztek, the car experienced a resurgence. Now the Aztek is an expensive proposition on the used car market. But, you know that the car is still quite ugly, and no popularity will ever disguise that fact.

Photo Credit: Car Domain

2002 Pontiac Grand Am (Best)

The 2001 Grand Am rectified many issues that the model had in the previous years. But most notable was the GT model, which came with a Ram Air forced induction setup. The Grand Am Ram Air is one of the rarest Pontiac models on the road. Not because of a limited production run, but because you can’t find them anymore (via Classic Car Database).

Photo Credit: Car Domain

On top of that, there were quite a few new improvements made to the car. The interior had many higher-quality materials, and the dashboard was slightly redesigned. The car also got a new high-end sound system, and GM was also introducing a new tracking system. If you can get your hands on a two-door Grand Am with the Ram Air setup you are in for driving pleasure.

Photo Credit: Motor 1

2003 Pontiac Vibe (Worst)

The 2003 Pontiac Vibe was born out of a long-standing relationship that GM had with Toyota. Many cars came out of this partnership, most notably the Prizm. But the Vibe was a poor excuse for badge engineering if there ever was one. The car was a Toyota Matrix with a redesigned front clip and a lot of body cladding (via Classic Car Database).

Photo Credit: Motor 1

If you remember Pontiac was heavily into using body cladding around this period. The Vibe was wrapped in more body cladding than the equally ugly Aztek model. The Vibe didn’t sell very well, and consumers were confused about why this model was in the Pontiac lineup. The Matrix was much better for essentially the same car.

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Photo Credit: GM

2004 Pontiac Grand Prix (Best)

The redesign of the 2004 Pontiac Grand Prix is the last redesign that the Grand Prix line would get. Pontiac would be dissolved for the 2010 model year, and the Grand Prix was no more. But in the meantime, the car was a great redesign, and it even brought back the V8 engine to the Grand Prix lineup in the form of the Northstar V8 (via Classic Car Database).

Photo Credit: Car Domain

Sadly, by this point in time, the Grand Prix was not a good seller for Pontiac. The car had a lot of issues, and the consumers were just not that into the brand anymore. Considering Pontiac had let the Firebird go a few years prior, the Grand Prix was sort of the odd-duck. The car couldn’t hold a candle to offerings from Honda or Toyota in terms of quality

Photo Credits: GM

2005 Pontiac GTO (Worst)

The resurgence of the GTO brand name in the 2000s is probably one of the biggest automotive letdowns in history. Consumers expected something great, and what they got was a rebadged Holden model from overseas. The styling was bland and sedate, especially when you considered the storied history of the GTO brand (via Classic Car Database).

Photo Credit: Edmunds

The GTO would be discontinued shortly after this model year. The car wasn’t the success that GM had hoped for. Consumers were ready for something unique that would hearken back to the history of the brand. But what they got was something that made no sense. The car was nothing like what you’d expect the next generation GTO model to be.

Photo Credit: GM

2006 Pontiac Torrent (Best)

The first Pontiac SUV had a nameplate that an entire generation knew. GM chose to name the SUV the “Torrent”, which was equated with the massively popular file-sharing of a generation. The Torrent was based on the Chevrolet Equinox, which was a new SUV that was the replacement for the Tracker (via Classic Car Database).

Photo Credit: GM

The Torrent did everything right, it was a quintessential upgrade over the bland Equinox model. There were sportier wheels, the body was nicer, and there were quite a few unique paint colors. The Torrent would prove to be one of the better badge engineering jobs that have come out of GM. The sales of the Torrent were also respectable, so although it was not a unique Pontiac, it was a great SUV.

Photo Credit: GM

2007 Pontiac Solstice (Worst)

Right towards the end of the Pontiac brand, GM would choose to release a roadster. The car had all the makings that made the Mazda Miata great. The problem was that it was decades too late. At this point, the Miata ruled the compact roadster market and no other car was going to intrude on that (via Classic Car Database).

Photo Credit: GM

The Solstice was buggy and cheap and there were better options on the market. The car just felt half finished, and that put a damper on the sales. Not to mention the 2008 Recession, which would also spell the end for the Pontiac brand. The GM restructuring effort just didn’t deem the Pontiac brand profitable. The Solstice has since become a rare vehicle that you don’t see often.

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