The Pontiac Torrent is worth considering if you're looking for a stylish and capable urban/suburban runabout with a flexible cabin design and high safety ratings.
The Pontiac Torrent crossover SUV was a rebadged first-generation Chevy Equinox. It was larger than compact crossovers, yet smaller than midsize SUVs. There was plenty of passenger and cargo space thanks to a long wheelbase, and a lengthy list of standard features sweetened the deal -- including a reclining/sliding second-row seat and a movable cargo shelf.
We preferred a few other crossover SUVs to the Pontiac Torrent, but we had a healthy respect for this underappreciated hauler. It had a smooth and quiet ride along with a spacious and versatile cabin, and it was reasonably priced. With the demise of Pontiac due to GM's bankruptcy woes, the Torrent quickly faded into obscurity. Still, it's a solid pre-owned option, especially given GM's commitment to supporting Pontiac products at existing service centers.
Most Recent Pontiac Torrent
The Pontiac Torrent crossover SUV was produced from 2006-'09. There was initially only one trim level; the uplevel GXP model arrived for '08. Standard equipment included alloy wheels, air-conditioning and full power accessories. Upgrading to the Torrent GXP netted more power, sport-tuned suspension and steering, bigger wheels, dual exhaust outlets, heated front sport seats and a power driver seat, among other features. Some of the GXP's upgrades were available as options on the base Torrent. Depending on the year, a navigation system, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system and Bluetooth were available as stand-alone options.
Available in either front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive configuration, the Pontiac Torrent offered a choice of two powertrains: a 185-horsepower 3.4-liter V6 engine coupled to a five-speed automatic transmission, or the GXP's 264-hp 3.6-liter V6 mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.
In reviews, we noted that the base V6's power was meager by six-cylinder standards, though around-town acceleration was adequate. The uplevel V6 in the GXP, conversely, could really haul the mail when called upon. Inside, we applauded the midsize Torrent's ample room for both occupants and stuff. To accommodate larger passengers or bulky cargo, the 60/40-split rear seat could slide nearly 8 inches fore and aft. An adjustable rear cargo shelf further expanded the loading options, and could also function as a picnic table.
Tuned more for ride comfort than acrobatic maneuvers, even in "sporty" GXP trim, the Pontiac Torrent's fully independent suspension delivered a smooth and compliant ride. Putting serious miles on the Torrent was relaxing, as the lack of wind and road noise made for a calm cabin. Our only real complaint concerned the lifeless electric power steering, which struggled to keep up with the rest of the package.
Used-car shoppers should be aware that some desirable features, such as four-wheel antilock disc brakes and a navigation system, were not available for the Torrent's first year, and side airbags were not standard until '09.