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Old 08-14-2005, 05:14 PM   #1
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Default The death of the Bonneville. Here'* your chance to tell GM.

Use this topic to tell GM your thoughts and opinions on the recent killing of the Bonneville model, or reasons you believe it happened. This isn't a topic for open debate. Simply post your thoughts without responding to those before you. I'll point GM (Pontiac) to the topic when it looks like enough have posted.

I'll start:


Like most commercial ventures, the market drives production. Sales dropped off causing Pontiac Division to revamp without the Bonneville in the lineup for 2006. So the question we need to ask is "why did sales drop off?"

Having been a fan of the Bonneville since the SSEi debuted in late 1991 with the 1992 model year, I compare what I loved about them (and the features that drove sales) to what we end with in 2005, and the path Pontiac took in that direction.

The major falling out in my opinion started in 2000 with the redesign. GM obviously wanted to replace the aged H body platform, and they did give it a good agressive look deserving of the Bonneville badging, but there were several things lacking that consumers wanted.


1. Seats are of poorer design. The 92-99 seats are renowned in the aftermarket applications, and many owners of other makes seek these seats to upgrade their other cars.

2. Handling was sacrificed. The CG of the car shifted too high and too far to the rear, giving the car a more boaty feel compared to the 92-99. I've experienced this myself. Even the GXP didn't get this problem resolved.

3. Putting a Cadillac drivetrain known for luxury cars into a 'sports sedan' gave the wrong impression. People that buy for performance want that seat-of-the-pants feel right off the line. The Northstar doesn't provide that. Most performance enthusiasts don't get the opportunity to use the power of the Northstar where it was intended (high speed passing). The L67 should have been updated and prevailed. It'* a tougher drivetrain, more proven, and doesn't have some of the undeserved bad attention the Northstar has.

4. Who would buy a GXP for that price when you can get a Caddy for the same? What market was the GXP intended for? Especially at that price? I think demographics got a little mixed up there.

If as much attention to these 3 details had been applied as the exterior look and feel of the car, the 2000 would have been more successful, and sales would have stayed at a respectable level at least. And it got worse with the GXP instead of better. People want performance to back up the fluff.

I've driven dozen'* of Bonnevilles from 92-05 now, and the best handling and powered (considering both values equally) and comfortable ended in 99. The GXP didn't impress me like I thought it would. I even went back and drove it a second time to measure my judgement of it. That GXP still sits on the lot unpurchased.


BC members:
Remember to use this topic to express your opinion, beg with GM, or just cry. Don't use it to respond to other members or argue. Keep it clean and factual.
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Old 08-14-2005, 05:51 PM   #2
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I feel that things went downhill for Bonneville after the 2000 model year. Why?

It was a Pontiac "flagship" with an interior seemingly lifted out of a Sunfire. The exterior styling was agressive, but the plastic body cladding turns people off. This was fixed with the cleaner, sleeker GXP, but with the aforementioned interior quality problem, the GXP is quickly (!) scratched off my list. The interior, is quite frankly, a DISASTER. GM managed to take the already low-rent plastics of previous models, fused them all together, and tossed the scraps in and called it a car worthy of your $35,000 USD. Bad.

Cost. Especially after the introduction of the GXP - one could buy a FASTER and BETTER performing REAR WHEEL DRIVE vehicle for less money. Case in point - the Infiniti G35 sedan - a large sedan with good room for UNDER $30,000 USD. Interior quality light years ahead of the sorry excuse for plastic that was used in the Pontiac. Straight-line performance that clearly and easily outdoes a GXP or SSEi. And the handling and road-holding to match. Handling and road-holding that a Bonneville - a nose-heavy front-driver - simply cannot match due to weight distribution. The car may handle well enough for many people'* standards, but understeer will ALWAYS be prevalent. After all, this is Pontiac'* sporty flagship sedan. It should do better than "most people'* standards". Instead, we get tame brake and steering feel (although I will admit that there'* worse out there) and floaty-boaty performance.

The Bonneville is FWD. This may have been acceptable in 2000 with the introduction of the now-dead body style. With the introduction of the GXP, the disadvantages of putting too much power to the front wheels became magnified with the introduction of DaimlerChrysler'* full-size RWD offerings - the 300, Magnum, and Charger. With the advent of traction control and other stability management systems (some of which Pontiac was already using for the 1992 Bonneville SSEi), RWD is not nearly as much of a winter hazard as cars from decades past. The RWD also solves a lot of the handling issue, as weight is more neatly distributed front to rear.

Old technology. Why did GM have to wait until 2000 to finally boast rear disc brakes? The Toyota Cressida boasted VENTILATED rear discs by the time 1983 rolled around. It also boasted double overhead cams and an electronically controlled transmission (something the Bonneville picked up for 1992).

The 3800, while it was a great, reliable motor, was archaic. A new-design motor with the introduction of the 2000 model may have injected the Bonneville with some new-found vigor. Twin cams and four valves per cylinder should have been in that deal. The massive off-the-line torque of the supercharged L67 was from the supercharger. The same massive torque combined with MORE high-end horsepower would have been very achievable. While the decision to keep the 3800 in the GM fleet was likely not to blame for Bonneville'* demise, a new engine (with proper development and reliability to avoid the fiasco garnered with the 3.4L DOHC motor of the 1990'*) just might have gotten excitement in General Motors' sportier division taken up a notch or two.

Now, GM, you'd expect an argument like this to be put out by an older buyer who knows what they want in a car.

But I'm 17. Yes, seventeen. Any more lackluster efforts on your part, GM, and you'll be losing MANY more future customers. Why buy GM when there'* faster, better, and (in some cases) cheaper out there?
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Old 08-14-2005, 09:59 PM   #3
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After car shopping for some time I I finally settled with a 03 SLE. I would of have loved to of bought it brand new but I couldn't afford it. Do I think it'* overpriced? NO WAY! I I would have bought it new in a second if I had the $$$. I can easily say it is THE MOST COMFORTABLE car I've ever driven.I do not agree with the dicontinuement. It is light years better than my 94 and I like it best than any other 4 door sedan on the market.I've been in all of them. .Problem is I don't think they advertised it enough. The only problem I see is that they should not have waited 5-10 years before coming out with a new model. That should be done every other year. I love my 03 SLE. I love everything about the car. The interior is the best in the business and how anybody would feel this car has a cheap feel is beyond me. Just my .02.
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Old 08-14-2005, 11:05 PM   #4
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The Pontiac Bonneville is a car that everyone wants but you just don't know it. I belive what GM was going for was a car a lot like the Chrysler 300C. The only difference is Chrysler has played there cards correcty and didn't fold when they thought they thought they should give up. The Bonneville GXP was a shortfall, esp. in new feratures. Compare it to the unvailing of the 1992 Bonneville, esp the SSEi. In 1992, the Bonneville had inovating new features like HUD, Heated Windshield, Dual Front Airbags, ABS and Traction Control. These are all things the car market had never seen! It rivaled new Euro and Asia'* hot new full size cars. The marketing back then was aggressive so the public knew about this great new car that Pontiac is putting out. It was a smash hit! Now, compared to this and the GXP, it never had a chance. GM seem to have not thought it through enough.

Lets start off with the powerplant. A Northstar V8 rated at 275 hp is not going to fuel anyones soul, esp. not now days. I can go out and buy a V6 Accord and hand a GXP it'* rear end.

Ever heard of wrong wheel drive? That'* what the Bonneville is. Wanna make this a "performance" sedan. The Torque steer you get from a Front wheel drive won't help you. Should have made the GXP a rear drive sedan.

Styling you finally got right. Only gripe is you should kept the fog light towards the center of the bumper instead of pushing them to the side. You had an awsome look going, shouldn't have gotten rid of it. You got finnaly lost the boy racer body clading and made it a lot smoother. Unfortunatly, too little, to late.

Interior, eh, another spot for improvment. What the heck is up with the Carbon Fiber look? Ok, the average bonneville owner is not a college student that will most likely end up buying a Scion with the same fake look to it. Seats, don't hold you in place. The Suede leather inserts were a good idea, but need some side support too to keep the body in the seat. Now, last I checked this is a full size sedan, am I wrong? I have more legroom in my friends Dodge Neon than I do in a Bonneville. Other than that, you just needed more luxury items like rear sunshade, just for starters.

I'd like to finally say that the Bonneville is worth saving. The market wants a performance full size sedan and Pontiac could give it to them through the name Bonneville. Go back to what I said earlier about the 300C. Chrysler is making MAD money off of it, arn't you looking for the customers that are leaving the Pontiac Dealership and going across the street to Mopar? You're making a mistake discontinuing the Bonneville.

Thank You,

John Simons
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-driverjohn2005 -- 1992 SSEi -- 15.22 @ 89mph 191k miles BUILT, not bought!

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Old 08-14-2005, 11:52 PM   #5
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I happen to live in a house with two Bonnevilles. A 1997 SE was the first car I drove, and we added a 2000 SE a few months later. Everyone in my family agrees that the 97 is the better car. It has more room, more comfortable seats, and has experienced less mechanical failures than the 2000. The only thing I like about the 2000 is that it has a more agressive exterior, but that would not convince me to buy one.

I understand that you will probably not bring back the Bonneville. I just hope that you learn from the past mistakes and build a new sedan that takes the best of the bonneville and improves it.
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Old 08-15-2005, 01:21 AM   #6
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I'm sad to see the Bonneville name go away after such a long history, but perhaps it'* just time for a fresh start. I don't really care what a car is called. I care about quality, comfort, reliability, performance. If it takes a new name to attract new customers, so be it.

I think that one of the downfalls of the newer Bonnevilles, at least for me, was that they were actually too gadgety. I like my cars simple. My '89 Bonneville LE has manual windows, no spoiler, no load leveling suspension, no dual-zone climate control, etc... and that'* the way I like it. There'* less to go wrong. Perhaps if quality of the car was put ahead of quantity of features in the later models, things would have turned out differently.

I've heard complaints about how long it took GM to "upgrade" the Bonneville to rear disc brakes and an overhead cam engine. Well personally, I don't care how the car stops, so long as it actually does in a reasonable distance, and I think that the 3800 is (was?) one of the best engines ever produced. I would prefer the 3800 to any other engine out there, regardless of how many cams or valves you cram into it. Sure, the Series II had some upper intake issues, but those were fixed in the Series III. I guess that all I'm trying to say is that the Bonneville didn't need a Northstar to impress me.

Looking to the future... I just hope that the car which replaces the Bonneville is done right. I can't claim to be the average car buyer, but here'* a short list of what I value in a car:

1) Quality. My car doesn't have to be the fastest, have the best looking body. I do want it to be built to last though. Things like good paint that doesn't peel off in 10 years and upper intake manifolds that last the life of the car.

2) Reasonably easy to work on. I like to do work on my own cars. I don't want to pay someone who doesn't care about my car to work on my car, when I can do it myself and know that it'* been done right. I love that I can do almost anything that my car may require, without too much trouble. I can change spark plugs without tipping the engine forward. I can see where my battery is. The water pump can be changed without lifting the engine. I don't want a cramped engine compartment without room to work in. If that makes the car slightly longer, so be it. I'll take function over form any day.

3) Reasonable price. I have the window sticker for my '89 somewhere, and the price was somewhere in the range of $13,000-14,000. What happened to the days when a man could buy a solid american sedan at a reasonable price? Sure, I know about inflation, but I don't think that inflation can be held completely responsible for the 1995 Bonneville base price of $28,690 - more than double what it was in '89. As I said before, I don't need every luxury feature known to man. I just want a solid, attractive, large american sedan at a reasonable price.

Is that too much to ask?
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Old 08-15-2005, 06:18 AM   #7
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Another thing also is the GXP. Why not advertise the car? No ads, no commercial. How the heck is the public is suppose to know about the car when only the 'enthusiasts' know about the car? The GXP was never given a chance. I, myself, would have not hesitated in purchasing one had I not been on a tight budget with these fuel prices. But that'* just me. Alot of people don't care about gas guzzlers. The GXP in my mind is a great car. Why not give it a chance?!? Instead of announcing it'* demise, why not announce another upgrade. The 2k upgrade should have come in 95 or 96. I believe the 2k upgrade was great. I also had a 94 and I like my 03 better. Should have kept up the good work. I'm very disappointed.
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Old 08-15-2005, 03:55 PM   #8
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Think back to when the Bonneville was redesigned in what, '92? It was bold. Previous GM'*, and many other cars, were boxy, and in many cases, nondescript. GM has tried to get too much out of minor design changes over too many years. Bonneville didn't change much in 8 model years.

By the time they redesign something from the ground-up, the market is already saturated, and sales fall off.

Then came the 2000. They made the car better in many ways, but could have done more, especially considering the price.

As I see it, the biggest problems with the 2000+ Bonneville were;
1. the seats, which were more supportive in earlier models,
2. the torque management. How much better it would have been with a limited slip differential.
3. headroom. With the sunroof, I think they gave up too much headroom in front.
4. window regulators. 'Nuff said.

The other issues, like cladding and quality of plastic, etc. are pretty subjective. I honestly don't think the plastic was cheap, but the look of it was less crisp than other cars. Too toy-like, maybe? Who knows. I think the styling of the dash was great. Would it be better with faux wood trim? I don't see it that way.

I've said this before in previous posts. There are a zillion commercials for lexus, honda, mazda, but I hadn't seen a bonneville commercial in years. Combine that with some bad press (the plastic issue primarily) and people turn their noses up. The public is very fickle. When manufacturers are able to create a mistique, things sell. My sister in law has a Solara. I think the interior of that car is simply dull and cheesy. She'* already had some issues with it, but "its a Toyota". So the perception is they have fewer problems than any other car.
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Old 08-15-2005, 04:54 PM   #9
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GM....Why did you all change the power plant you all originally had for the GXP? The 270hp V-6 witht he Xenon foglamps, tinted headlamp covers, factory tined window, 19in rims and the K&N setup was the way to go! I would have saved my money just to hear that thing run! The northstar was a bad idea to me.
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Old 08-16-2005, 12:41 AM   #10
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Too many choices and better choices then the GXP.

1/1,000,000 people would choose a 300c over a GXP.

There was a time when the Bonneville was one of the most powerful cars in its class for a lot less then the competition. Pontiac needs to get back to that.
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