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#18

in 2009 Affordable Midsize Cars

Avg. Price Paid: $8,950 - $12,988
Original MSRP: $20,490 - $32,300
MPG: 22 City / 33 Hwy
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2009 Pontiac G6 Performance

This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.

Reviewers offer mixed opinions of the 2009 Pontiac G6's performance chops. Most say the car has lively handling characteristics, but its engine choices all present problems. A four-cylinder and a smaller V6 both lack the power to move the car well. A larger V6 is available, and reviewers say it has plenty of power for the car's weight - but buyers pay a price at the pump for selecting that engine.

  • -"The G6 is marketed as a sportier entry in this highly competitive family-sedan class, but the Ford Fusion, Honda Accord, Mazda 6 and Nissan Altima are all more enjoyable to drive. The G6 coupe has fewer competitors, but those still include the Accord and Altima two-doors, both of which are better choices than the Pontiac." -- Edmunds
  • -"No G6 is as composed as a Honda Accord or Toyota Camry." -- Consumer Guide
  • "While the G6 offers decent handling, the base and GT models are not terribly quick and feature slow-shifting automatic transmissions as standard equipment." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Though not quite fun to drive, the G6 is well balanced, successfully masking its inherent forward weight bias but never quite feeling playful." -- Cars.com

Acceleration and Power

There are three engines available on the 2009 Pontiac G6. Base models are powered by a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine making 164 horsepower. It comes mated to a four-speed automatic and gets an EPA rating of 22/30 mpg city/highway. It can be upgraded to a six-speed automatic, which boosts output to 22/33. GT models are equipped with a 3.5-liter V6 making 219 horsepower, which comes only with the six-speed auto, and is rated for 18/29. GXP models come with a 3.6-liter V6 that produces 222 horsepower and is rated for a bottom-of-the-class 15/22. 

Test drivers say the four-cylinder is too weak to give the car passing power, and the larger six, while powerful, isn't worth its cost at the gas station. The middle choice will probably suit most buyers, but it still lags behind what similar cars from other manufacturers offer.

  • "The 3.5-liter V6 delivers plenty of low-end torque for quick acceleration and easy passing, but it also gets a bit raspy at higher engine speeds." -- Edmunds
  • "G6s with the 3.5 V6 have good acceleration from any speed. The GXP's refined 3.6 V6 pulls smartly from any speed and has ample passing and merging punch." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The four-cylinder engine is all about economy, not performance. Why GM didn't offer a five-speed manual on this model is a mystery, but without it the G6 has little chance of living up to its sporty image." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "There was no lack of range in the gearbox, even with 'only' four gears." -- The Auto Channel

Handling and Braking

Handling is a highlight of the 2009 Pontiac G6's performance. Reviewers say the car has a taut ride and its suspension handles rough roads well. Steering is less well-liked. Base models have electronically-assisted power steering, and some reviewers say it offers too little feedback. GT and GXP models step up to hydraulically-assisted steering, and receive better critical reception. The car has adequate breaks.

  • "The base model's steering is very light at low speeds for easy parking and firms up at higher speeds. It feels numb on the whole, though. Body lean is moderate, and grip is good across the entire G6 model lineup. GT coupe and sedan are a bit sharper, with the GXP being sharpest of all, though it suffers from torque steer. All have slightly dull brake pedal feel." -- Consumer Guide
  • "All 2009 Pontiac G6s deliver surprisingly athletic ride and handling qualities, which are dialed in even tighter in the firmly tuned GT and GXP." -- Edmunds
  • "The G6 sedan features a firm, controlled ride with little squat, dive, and roll when accelerating, braking, and turning." -- Autobytel
  • "Venture toward the edge of the envelope, and you'll find that the suspension allows the front tires to flop over on their sidewalls." -- Road and Track

Next Steps: 2009 Pontiac G6

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