This week's car review segment highlights the 2004 Pontiac GTO. We find all the relevant reviews of the 2004 Pontiac GTO, critique them and then give you our thoughts on the car. Oh, hell, let's start with our thoughts on the car.
Our first impression of the 2004 Pontiac GTO was, "Okay, where is it? Over there? (Turning around) Where? Oh, that! Heh, we passed it over. Gee, should we turn around again in the hopes that something a little better looking takes its place?" The name GTO evokes a lot of powerful memories (not for us, really... but the old folks around us get all excited... probably a meds issue, though). We find the current styling to be very, very bland. But that's pretty subjective -- maybe it works for you. It doesn't for us.
But, hey, big engine. A really big one. The 2004 Pontiac GTO's engine produces 350 horsepower. While most cars for the last 10 years have been producing more and more horsepower, this engine is ahead of the pack. It's big, strong and makes this car fast. However, we fail to understand the point of a big-engined car like this if you can't pound the accelerator to the floor on a daily basis. Well, we guess you could but seeing as this engine, with the automatic, is already a gas-guzzler (literally) we can imagine this quickly becoming a costly car to drive. Maybe the thinking is a lighter wallet helps with acceleration! Remember, since you can't accelerate to your heart's content in everyday driving there's got to be more to the car than just a big engine. Does this car have it? We don't think so.
For the money (32,000 clams) we'd rather take a look at a BMW (even used would be good), the Nissan 350z, the Mazda RX-8 or maybe the slick Infiniti G35 coupe.
All of these cars are far more refined than the GTO and will mostly likely retain more value over the next several years. The only point the 2004 Pontiac GTO can hold over those other cars is straight-line acceleration. And remember, this is a Pontiac and it's just not gonna last as long as the German and Japanese competitors.
But, like we always say... "what do we know?" It's all about sales. So let's take a look-see and find out if, regardless of what we think about this car, is it selling? If so, we'll bow out gracefully.
GM said they could only make 18,000 of the new GTO. Well, guess what? They've sold 4,663 of 'em through July 2004. Even if sales triple (won't happen) they'll still fall 20% of their goal of 18,000 units/year. And we don't expect sales to go up a whole lot further as the cold weather season approaches the U.S.
Fast: 0-60mph in 5.5 seconds. If you drive in a straight line, it'll do you proud.
Looks: Ugly. Okay, that's too strong a word. How about: it looks like over steamed rice tastes.
Gas guzzler: 16 mpg in the city. And we guarantee that's driving it conservatively. And it really is hit with a $1,000 gas guzzler tax.
Missing luxury items: No side airbags, stability control. No sunroof and no automatic climate control. If you're okay without all that remember, this is a $32,000 car! If that still doesn't bother you, we'll sell you a portable, disposable food carrier (food not included) for $87.50. Available in brown. Oh, it's foldable, too.
Price. Its list price is $31,795. Add in $1,000 for the ol' gas guzzler tax. Yeah, damn government coming down on the little guy... no matter how wasteful he may be.
New Car Test Drive
Long-time GTO fans likely will hesitate to plunk down 30-plus big ones to park a 2004 GTO in their garage. They want The Look, the hood scoop, the distinctive body lines, the trim accents, all those things they remember their old GTO as being, what it meant to them. But maybe it's time to grow up. This is what the 2004 Pontiac GTO represents: the car the GTO would be today if it had been kept around and allowed to mature, to learn new moves, to adapt to and adopt new technology, but always remembering how to have fun.2004 Pontiac GTO
... the GTO lacks refinement in fit and finish. ... this creates a tiny trunk that can't even hold two average-size suitcases. So, strangely, you have a GTO with a big wheelbase and yet, pretty poor practicality. ... But unfortunately, even in a straight line, some of what should be more fun, like toggling through the six-speed transmission, feels more tractor-like than sporty. It becomes work, not play. ... Unfortunately that doesn't make the GTO a blast to drive, as it feels simply one-dimensional, meant solely for laying down rubber.2004 Pontiac GTO
On the street, we appreciated the luxury carlike ride quality, and when pushed a bit, the GTO seemed to handle predictably and respectably, despite a fair amount of body roll. But when driven more aggressively, the car felt heavy and the steering felt a little slow and numb. Running through the slalom at our test track cemented these impressions. Honestly, we expected a firmer ride and sharper handling. ... So is this transplanted Aussie a Pontiac GTO? No, not if the chief criterion is that it be born in the U.S.A. — though it is a product of the General. But definitely yes in the sense that it's a midsize Poncho with a tire-smokin' V8 that can show its taillights to most anything else on four wheels.2004 Pontiac GTO
NYTimes (in association with Edmunds)
I piloted a GTO through 250 miles of mostly deserted mountain roads in the Los Angeles and Los Padres National Forests, and I'm hard put to remember a more pleasurable driving experience. ... The GTO's market niche is hard to define. For roughly the same price, one could buy the much-better-looking Infiniti G35 coupe or the somewhat better-handling BMW 330Ci. But the GTO's monster V-8 will blow the doors off either of those six-cylinder cars.2004 Pontiac GTO
The Auto Channel
I've been driving one for the past week, and to say that I am very impressed is understatement. It compares favorably in ride and handling to some European sports coupes that cost twice as much. Fit and finish are also first-rate. Yes, it's less refined than the expensive Europeans, but some of that was undoubtedly intentional - too much civilization does not a muscle car make. ... This is a real everyday car, not just a weekend toy.2004 Pontiac GTO
So the 2004 GTO isn't the rip-snorting, retro-themed muscle machine many die-hards may have been waiting for. We're not disappointed. What GM has delivered instead is a superbly crafted, tastefully styled, tautly muscled grand-touring car that stimulates your brain, not your kidneys. That such a suave machine wears the Pontiac badge may be the biggest--and the most pleasant--surprise of all.2004 Pontiac GTO
I was more troubled by the lack of some fundamental safety features, including side air bags. Although Pontiac bundles antilock brakes and traction control, you cannot order stability control, which is a major mistake on a rear-wheel-drive performance car, especially in Northern states. ... we really need to put the GTO in context. For the money, it offers a lot of performance and a lot of standard features. Is it worth 30 grand? Depends on whether you'd rather spend your dough on a BMW or a Pontiac.2004 Pontiac GTO
The Car Connection
Purists won't rejoice, but the new GTO is as close to a spiritual successor as GM can offer today. There's more speed, more safety, better handling, and a world-class powerplant. And the tuner possibilities, from supercharging to body kits, can make today's GTO every bit as bawdy as the Judge.2004 Pontiac GTO
5 positive, 1 negative and 2 neutral. And, if you want to be as skeptical as possible (always a good idea), put the neutrals into the negative category. Even then it's still a clear decision: the traditional automotive press likes the Pontiac GTO. So what's with our opinion?
The 2004 Pontiac GTO is a fast car. But that's all we can say about it. We aren't falling for the "it's got the best interior of any Pontiac today" or (paraphrasing) "few options make it easy to choose from" or "it's faster than the competition." Look, we see the appeal of a fast car, sort of. But we don't feel this GTO offers enough of everything else. So much so we suspect the GTO will be in production maybe three years. And fade away again.
Images courtesy Pontiac