It is the classic automotive switch: get people excited about a car like, say, the 2006 Pontiac Solstice, get them into such a lather that they go into dealerships to get a glimpse -- and then sell 'em on the more practical mainstream SUV or sedan. There's even a name for it: Halo cars. What used to be the untouchable dream cars has worked its way down to every day vehicles -- in low volumes, and for sale to people who need more style and less utility. So it makes sense that there's no halo around the 2006 Pontiac Torrent. Nor should there be. This is, after all, a volume seller, a car people buy when they realize -- sadly -- that the wife and kids just won't fit into a pretty blue roadster.
Available this fall, the Pontiac Torrent has not been priced -- but expect it to carry a sticker price of around $26,000, which is slightly more expensive than it's brother, the Chevrolet Equinox. For that much money, you get the Equinox's V6, an engine that produces 185-horsepower and 210 lb.-ft. of torque, among other more or less valuable things that you may or may not have seen before.
Despite the shared powertrains, Pontiac officials say that the Torrent is different from the Equinox in that it offers a "crisper" suspension setup that's designed to provide a feeling of more sporty control. It's the same MacPherson strut front suspension and four-link independent rear suspension offered on the Equinox, just modified for a different ride. So, based on the Pontiac spin, the Torrent is the kind of sporty SUV that is perfect for errands, kid hauling and maybe a Saturday spent dodging cones at the autocross.
Not exactly. If the Torrent was built for performance, GM surely would have placed the Saturn VUE's more powerful Honda-built engine between the strut towers. Instead, it gets the Equinox's 185-horsepower V6, which is built in China. The reality of the Torrent is that it is probably too close to the Equinox to be much more than a brother SUV in the overall GM lineup. A retuned suspension, a different grille and a restyled exterior doesn't make for that much excitement.
Optional features for the Torrent include leather-trimmed seats and steering wheel, heated driver and front passenger seats, power-adjustable driver seat, 17-inch aluminum wheels, CD/MP3 stereo with six-disc CD changer and subwoofer, steering-wheel radio controls, power sunroof, multi-tier rear cargo system, OnStar telematics, and XM Satellite Radio. Roof-rail side curtain airbags and traction control also are available. (Traction control is not available with AWD.)
Now if they could only find a way to put a little bit of excitement in the thing, maybe even a reason to buy the thing over the Equinox. That would be something, and then maybe people would stop staring at that darn Solstice.
Photos courtesy of Pontiac