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SEE ALSO:Pontiac Buyer's Guide

The 1994 Grand Prix SE Coupe reflects Pontiac's credo of building excitement and presenting creative styling. The building excitement idea started back in the sixties when the Grand Prix was a genuine V8-powered 333 horsepower "muscle car". Over the years those brutish, large-displacement, fuel-hungry, multi-barrel carbureted, four-speed manual transmissioned, rear drive powertrains have been superseded by smaller displacement, multiport fuel-injected, fuel- efficient, front-wheel drive V6 engines mated to an electronically controlled four-speed automatic transmission. During this same time the traditional boxy hard-top design has given way to a mid-size, rounded, aerodynamic coupe.

Pontiac in general and the Grand Prix in particular is dedicated to Driving Excitement. This is more than just a statement, it is a philosophy. Both the design and engineering qualities of the car and the interests, desires and expectations of its owner are given special consideration towards this goal.

The newest Grand Prix displays increased Driving Excitement for 1994 with a higher performance and more fuel efficient 3100 V6 engine, as well as a new interior and exterior styling. Here are my impressions after a driving test that included all-purpose city and highway driving:

APPEARANCE: The monochrome-finish, aerodynamic Grand Prix SE coupe is even smoother in 1994. Pontiac's trademark bumper-mounted split grille and lower air intake have been blacked-out. Newly-designed round driving lights are fared into the bumper/air dam, while the lower body side plastic cladding now displays a smoother finish. Its low nose starts just above the bumper where the Pontiac logo separates the six broad headlamps, and sweeps up the hood to a raked windshield, across a flat top to a slanted rear window and short rear deck. Wide fender flares and sculptured protective side molding are set off by cast alloy spoke wheels and Goodyear Eagle GT+4 sport tires.

COMFORT: The Grand Prix analog-gauged instrument panel has been redesigned for easier viewing, and the dashboard controls are all in the right place for quick use. At night the interior is literally aglow with red backlighting for these controls. The front bucket seats are well-bolstered for comfort and support whether driving across town or across the country. The arm rest for the sculptured rear seats hides a pass-through to the trunk. The compact AM/FM/cassette sound system not only fills the cabin with excellent sound, but features remote controls mounted on the leather-covered tilt steering on either side of the airbag. The heater/air conditioner works quietly and well in a variety of outside temperatures. A remote lock/unlock system is a real convenience, as are the powered windows and side mirrors. Inside storage is good and there are several cup and beverage holders, too.

ROADABILITY: The newest Grand Prix has the road handling qualities of a sports-type vehicle. Its front wheel drive configuration, in combination with its well-designed four-wheel independent suspension design and power assisted rack-and-pinion steering provides excellent tire contact by the 16-inch Goodyear Eagle GT+4's with the road under most driving conditions. Handling and safety are enhanced by the optional anti-lock braking system and four-wheel disc brakes. Dual air bags and three-point seat belts also provide an additional measure of safety. Good insulation and weatherstripping contribute to a quiet drive.

PERFORMANCE: The 3.1 liter V6 engine has been reworked for 1994, and as a result it has had its designator changed to 3100 SFI V6. Also, its output has been increased by 10 horsepower up to 160. Hydra- matic's excellent 4T60E electronically controlled automatic transmission is a smooth working partner in this potent powertrain. This improved combination provides plenty of power for merging and passing, as well as smoothly shifting in traffic, or in climbing or descending grades. The stainless steel exhaust system is tuned to give a discrete but audible V- engine exhaust rumble.

CONCLUSIONS: With the improvements in this newest edition of the Grand Prix, Pontiac has taken positive steps to insure that its policy of providing driving excitement is maintained. Its styling is refreshing, its amenities are complete, and its handling and performance capabilities have been upgraded to enable it to rather completely conform to its sport coupe image.


     Base Price                    $16,770
     Price As Tested               $18,345
     Engine Type                   V6, pushrod ohv, smpfi
     Engine Size                   3.1 liters / 191 cid
     Horsepower                    160 @ 5200
     Torque (lb-ft)                185 @ 4000
     Wheelbase / Length            108" / 195"
     Transmission                  4-speed automatic w/OD
     Curb Weight                   3280 lbs.
     Pounds Per Horsepower         21
     Fuel Capacity                 16 gal.
     Fuel Requirement              Unleaded Regular (87 octane)
     Tires                         Goodyear Eagle GT+4 P225/60R16
     Brakes                        disc/disc, antilock optional
     Drivetrain                    Front engine, front wheel drive
     EPA Economy - mpg
       city/highway/observed      19/30/21.7
     0 to 60 mph                   8.9 sec
     1/4 Mile E. T.                16.5 sec
     Coefficient of Drag (Cd)      .32