Pontiac has long been the performance-oriented division of General Motors. Whereas most of the automotive giant's brands have featured their own unique sport models over the years, Pontiac has in the past few decades been positioned as building fun to drive sedans and coupes. In some instances, the general mechanical details of these vehicles were shared with stable mate Chevrolet, but in more recent years the automaker has enjoyed a greater number of independent platforms upon which to build their image.
This performance factor was one of the primary reasons that Pontiac had avoided getting involved in the truck or SUV market for so many years. Hunkering sport-utility vehicles did not exactly have a reputation as being exciting to drive, and as such they would have conflicted with the overall Pontiac publicity scheme. Pontiac also had no real history as a producer of heavy vehicles, and with Chevrolet doing so well in that segment there was no real need to risk the cannibalization of sales that could result should an in-house competitor emerge.
Compact SUVs, however, seemed to offer an outlet for Pontiac to participate in the sales phenomenon that surrounded this class of vehicle without taking too many risks in terms of sibling rivalry or a diluted image. Small enough to still be peppy to drive and with suspensions that could be tuned to provide a firm and responsive ride, compact SUVs based sedan platforms didn't come with a lot of the bulky baggage of their larger cousins. With this in mind, Pontiac began to examine the General Motors lineup in order to determine which vehicles would make the best candidate to be branded as their own SUV.
The eventual winner of the Pontiac compact SUV sweepstakes was the Torrent, a vehicle based on the same chassis as the Chevrolet Equinox and which at first glance appeared to stay quite true to its origins in terms of both styling and hardware. However, in addition to the different front fascia and Pontiac-exclusive design tweaks to the exterior sheet metal, the Torrent featured suspension and steering that were altered to provide the tighter feel that fans of the brand had come to expect. This article talks about the best compact SUV produced by Pontiac and how it has come to allow the company to participate in the sport-utility market on its own terms.
2006 - 2007 Pontiac Torrent
The twin kidney grilles of the vehicle's front end let buyers know that they are dealing with a Pontiac, but the tall roofline and ride height indicate that the 2006 - 2007 Pontiac Torrent is something new to that brand. Abandoning the chunky and awkward styling of the Aztek, this new vehicle moves away from the world of crossovers and firmly establishes itself as a compact SUV, one which is larger and more capable than several of its competitors.
All 2006 - 2007 Pontiac Torrents are motivated by a 3.4-liter V-6 engine that makes 185 horsepower and 210 lb-ft of torque. A well designed 5-speed automatic transmission handles gear changes for the SUV and it is well suited to daily driving, working almost effortlessly in the background to make sure that the Torrent is always poised to select the right gear for every situation. The vehicle can be ordered with either front-wheel or all-wheel drive, but it is clearly intended to remain on the pavement, as the suspension is biased towards providing good response during cornering rather than the ability to crawl over rocks. Drum brakes in the rear cripple stopping power somewhat, but they do help to keep the cost of the vehicle low.
As a larger than average compact, the Torrent sees a generous 68 cubic feet of cargo space made available when the rear seats are folded completely forward. A little more than half of that is still present when the vehicle is loaded up with 5 passengers. The interior is somewhat plastic, as is common with General Motors vehicles in this price bracket, but the cloth seats are comfortable and leather is an option. A sliding rear seat helps to give rear occupants the option of creating more leg room for themselves should cargo placement allow.
The 2006 - 2007 Pontiac Torrent is a used compact SUV that is very straightforward and provides solid everyday transportation for families who require more than the standard amount of hauling space found in a sedan.