During a span of about 30 years, Pontiac and its General Motors brethren filled dealers’ lots with vehicles that, for the most part, have been outmatched by the competition. When a new GM ride had plenty of power, the build quality was horrible. When build quality was improved, reliability was poor. When all else was up to par, styling varied from coma-inducing to nightmarish. There have been exceptions, but those have been few and far between. In time, owners of these products felt they’d been duped, and the result is a buying public that is leery of GM and forever fond of Honda and Toyota.
Now there’s the 2006 Pontiac Torrent SUV, which conjures up thoughts of a common saying: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.
Those cars of the 70s, 80s, and 90s are gone now and their buyers have likely moved on. But thoughts of that Fiero, and, oh, good grief, that Aztek…they remain. It’s enough to permanently banish Pontiac from the buying equation. Yet, with time, people change, priorities change, companies change, and cars change. Buyers with an open mind may have scratched over the name Pontiac with a #2 pencil, but there’s room to bring the brand back into the fray. Forgive and forget, as they say.
That’s where the shame on you part comes in. Like various Pontiacs of old, the 2006 Torrent comes with a competent powertrain, arguably good looks, and a price that puts it in the competitive ballpark. However, remove the blinders and discover alternatives with engines designed in the new millennium, style that is more than a plastic nose and badge away from a Chevy Equinox, decent real-world fuel economy, a long list of standard features and a more expansive list of options, and superior materials assembled with more attention to detail.
On the whole, the 2006 Pontiac Torrent is a fine vehicle, one that would have been somewhat impressive in 1995. However, we’re into the 2006 model year, a time when Toyota is introducing an all-new RAV4 with 268 horsepower and three rows of seats, Ford offers an Escape with up to 200 horsepower or a hybrid powertrain, Jeep sells the Liberty with true four-wheel-drive capability and an optional diesel engine, Hyundai sells two SUVs with 100,000-mile powertrain warranties and a bevy of airbags, and even little Suzuki sells a rugged, redesigned Grand Vitara that’s downright attractive and provides superior build quality. They are all options that buyers should strongly consider, and vehicles the folks at Pontiac should study.