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2004 Pontiac Grand Prix GTP

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San Francisco: The all-new Grand Prix is instantly recognized as a Pontiac by its characteristic split grille and cat's-eye shaped headlights. Another recent styling cue, the radical body-side cladding is gone, fortunately.

While a four-door sedan, the roofline lends a coupe-like look. All in all, the new Grand Prix is very good looking. Besides carrying over styling cues from previous years, many of the mechanical components are used again.

The 2004 Grand Prix comes in two versions, GT and GTP. GT models are packaged in two ways. The GT1 ($22, 635) is equipped like your typical rental car with power steering/windows/brakes, radio/CD and air conditioning. Anti-lock braking with traction control and tire pressure monitor is a $600 option. Most people will probably opt for the GT2 ($24,535) that comes with items expected today in cars in this market segment. The GTP ($26,735) offers more performance and handling for the driving enthusiasts. With the Competition Group package, the GTP is even more fun.

Only one engine is used in the Grand Prix, GM’s venerable and proven 3.8-liter V6.  It comes in two flavors for the Grand Prix. The GT1 and GT2 gets a version that produces 200 horsepower at 5200 rpm and 225 foot-pounds of torque at 4000 rpm. A supercharger is added for the GTP to boost the output to 260 at 5200 rpm and 280 pound-feet at 3600 rpm. This represents a 20-horsepower increase over the supercharged version in 2003.

The only transmission is a four-speed automatic. Whereas much of the competition has gone to five-speed automatics, the Pontiac’s well-proven 4T65-E Hydra-Matic still does a very good job shifting virtually seamlessly. Fuel economy is reasonably good - 20 mpg city / 30 mpg highway for the GT and 18 mpg city / 28 mpg highway for GTP. The fuel tank holds 17 gallons.

The Grand Prix I tested had the Comp G package, easily identified by two TAPshift (Touch Activated Power) paddles on the steering wheel for manual shifting. On the other models except the GT1 there are controls for the radio and cruise control. With the $1395 Comp G package you also get a performance tuned suspension and Stabilitrak Sport. If StabiliTrak system detects loss of control, power is automatically reduced and front brakes are applied until control is regained. The Comp G includes Magnasteer II variable power steering, an upgrade of the Magnasteer I found on other models.

All Grand Prixs have a new version of WideTrack Handling System that includes four-wheel independent suspension with four distinct phases of suspension damping. Brakes are four-wheel discs with red painted calipers on the Comp G. Sixteen inch wheels are standard with 17-inch wheels shod with performance tires installed on the GTPs.

The new interior is quite upscale, and a definite improvement over interiors often found on mid-level GM products. The ignition switch has been moved from steering column to the instrument panel. The InfoTech Package, included in the CompG package and a $600 option on the GT2 and GTP includes a driver information center (DIC) and head-up display that projects selected information on windshield just below the driver’s field of view. With its four buttons and a four-line read out, the DIC presents a lot of information.

The very large speedometer and tachometer plus other gauges are easy to read. Two sets of numbers for speed in mph and kph are gone. By selecting English or Metric in the DIC, you switch between the two systems by changing the calibration of the dial. While there lots of buttons and knobs, they are easy to use once you learn each one’s function. The outside mirrors are SUV-size.

While a sports sedan, the Grand Prix has almost SUV versatility. For instance, the 60/40 split rear seats fold down together or singly. Also the front passenger seat folds forward to form a desk-like surface. With seats folded items as long as nine feet can are be carried with the trunk lid closed. The trunk has a very low liftover, but like most cars today where styling takes precedence over function, the opening is somewhat small, but not as bad as some, making it difficult to load in bulky items. However, the rear doors open to over 80-degrees, making it easier to load items, and people, into the rear. While listed as a five passenger sedan, except for short trips only four will ride in comfort.

Acceleration was outstanding with no trace of torque steer often experienced when delivering gobs of power through the front wheels. The suspension was taut and steering precise without being harsh and uncomfortable. It is equally at home on twisty mountain roads as on straight stretches of Interstate.

The GTP is a high performance car for grownups – no jarring ride or tire squealing takeoffs nor any wild spoilers, wings, or graphics to attract cops who need to fill their quotas. And how did the GTP with the Comp G handle on the road? In one word, Great!  By Bill Siuru and Shawn Stewart AutoWire.Net - San Francisco

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Byline:  Syndicated content provided by Tony Leopardo AutoWire.Net
Column Name:  The GTP is a high performance car for grownups
Topic:  2004 Pontiac Grand Prix GTP
Word Count:   907
Photo Caption:  2004 Grand Prix GTP
Photo Credits:  Pontiac Internet Media
Series #:   2004 - 01

Download the Microsoft Word version here:   2004 Grand Prix GTP

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