GM Introduces 2010 Lineup, and Pontiac is a Lineup of One

By Chris Haak

06.10.2009

p8130011Yesterday, we received word that GM had the company had posted details of its 2010 product lineup to its media website.  (Here is the link; login is not required).

Overall, there’s not much new information in the guide aside from random annual enhancements such as new paint colors, new wheels, an added USB port here, a different gear ratio there.  Of course, there are a few all-new models such as the 2010 Buick LaCrosse sedan, 2010 Cadillac SRX crossover, 2010 Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon, 2010 Chevrolet Camaro, 2010 Chevrolet Equinox crossover, and the 2010 GMC Terrain crossover (a vehicle whose style I still can’t get used to).

Conspicuous in their absence are a few things – namely, a couple of brands (Hummer, Saturn, and Saab; GM has tentatively sold Hummer to a Chinese company and sold Saturn to Roger Penske’s company, while Saab is still for sale and in Sweden’s equivalent of bankruptcy protection) and a couple of models.

And then there are the hybrids.  Amid all of the hoopla about the proliferation of GM’s hybrid technology, the company finds itself nearly at square one as far as the number of hybrid vehicles it offers.  Sure, it offers the expensive, complicated, but very good two-mode hybrid system in several light duty trucks (Silverado and Sierra pickups, Tahoe, Yukon/Denali, Escalade) but with the departure of Saturn from the fold, the Saturn Vue Hybrid and Saturn Aura Hybrid have been put out to pasture.  The Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid, which shared a platform and powertrain with the Aura Hybrid, also was quietly dropped from the lineup.

I don’t blame GM at this juncture for killing the Malibu hybrid, because its fuel economy wasn’t very good for a hybrid, much less against the four cylinder/six-speed automatic combination (the hybrid was rated at 26 city/34 highway, while the conventional four cylinder/six-speed was rated at 22 city/33 highway).  The Ford Fusion Hybrid blew the Malibu Hybrid out of the water in terms of fuel economy numbers (the Fusion Hybrid is rated at an impressive 41 city/36 highway), so GM may have figured it wasn’t worth the trouble.  Not only that, but the Malibu Hybird didn’t sell very well, and losing the Saturn Hybrid volume probably made GM’s “mild” BAS (belt-alternator-starter) hybrid system a loss leader.

Knowing obviously that Pontiac’s days were limited, it was still striking to see Pontiac’s 2010 lineup:  just one car, the Toyota-engineered Vibe compact hatchback.  I’ve owned several Pontiacs over the past two decades, and while none of them were fantastic cars (several Grand Ams, and a Grand Prix GTP Supercharged), at least those cars kind ofkept the Pontiac performance tradition alive.  As I look at the Vibe’s solitary spot in the 2010 Pontiac lineup, my mind suddenly flashes to great Pontiac icons such as the early-60s Grand Prix, the 1960s GTOs, the late-60s Firebirds (I’m a particular fan of Carousel Red (orange) ’69 Firebird coupes), the giant boats of the 1970s, the slimmed down Grand Prixs of the early ’80s, the “We Build Excitement” era of the late ’80s, with the Grand Am, Grand Prix, Trans Am, and Bonneville, the 1989 20th Anniversary Trans Am with the turbo V6 from the Buick Grand National, the “wide track” 1997 Grand Prix, a few dark years, then the Solstice GXP and the excellent G8 sedan.  We won’t talk about the 1990s, as we want to remember Pontiac’s good times, not its plastic-cladded wandering-through-the-wilderness or rebadged Chevrolet era.  (Oops.)  Many of those cars from the 1980s, like the Grand Am and Bonneville, were actually pretty lousy cars:  uncomfortable interiors, poor handling, substandard build quality – but they at least were backed up by a heck of a marketing campaign.  Watching the video below almost made me want to trade my 2008 Cadillac CTS on a 20-year old 1988 Grand Am (OK, not really).

And now we’re left with nothing but memories of the once-storied Pontiac brand.  Oh yeah, and the Vibe for another year.  And the G6 if you’re a fleet customer.  Let’s shed a tear for the Solstice roadster and coupe, and for the G8.  The other ones – G3 (aka Aveo), G5 (aka Cobalt coupe), and G6 (aka Saturn Aura aka Chevrolet Malibu), I’m not going to miss, and are a large part of the reason I have to eulogize Pontiac today.

COPYRIGHT Autosavant – All Rights Reserved

Author: Chris Haak

Chris is Autosavant's Managing Editor. He has a lifelong love of everything automotive, having grown up as the son of a car dealer. A married father of two sons, Chris is also in the process of indoctrinating them into the world of cars and trucks.

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7 Comments

  1. RIP, Pontiac. You had a great run and you had some great cars.

  2. Ugh… the Solstice and G8 were good, credible cars. Bummer.

  3. So I guess the 2009 G8 is the last one you can buy as a new car. Hard to bleive G.M. is not pttung the car under another brand in their collection. What a dumb move.

  4. The G8 has been a hit with reviewers, but it’s obviously a money loser if GM is discontinuing it. And GM is in no position to be funding long term vanity projects. They need to generate some hit cars or they could be back in bankruptcy court in another 5 years…or less.

  5. OK, OK, the Grand Am wasn’t a great car, but I wouldn’t call it lousy. Back in the day, that car kept the local plants humming day and night. Couldn’t build enough of them. I myself spent the summer of 1995 on the Grand Am/Olds Achieva/Chevy Cavalier assembly line. The styling was, alas, pure cheese. But many people really loved those things. My Mom had one; relatively roomy. I think the factory shit points were set to give hard, sudden shifts to create a “sporty” feel.

    I do believe that the G6 would have sold better if it had been introduced as a Grand Am–it may have been excoriated by the press, but the name had some positive association for millions of people. Of course, the G6 would also have sold better initially had GM offered a 4-cylinder off the bat. They began production only offering the POS 3.5 liter V-6; the base-level trim–the best seller–took several months to arrive.

  6. I should watch what I say about the Grand Am’s build quality, Josh – I always forget that you used to build them. 🙂 I owned an 87, 88, 89, 90, and 92 Grand Am and a 92 and 93 Achieva during my formative years.

    Most of the Grand Ams (except the 1990) were three-speed automatics. I used to love the way they’d kick down with the Quad 4, but my old age wisdom now tells me that huge kickdown was only because the three measly ratios were way too far apart.

  7. Our family went through the Grand Am stage starting with my brother, who bought from the first batch of Grand Ams delivered to Chicago dealerships when the model first appeared in 1984.

    He paid all of $8500 to get one.

    And they really were revolutionary for GM, succeeding the X body (Chevy Citation/ Pontiac Phoenix). The Grand Ams were the most BMW looking (at the grill) of the N body cars just when BMW was taking off in popularity with its E30 3 series.

    Interiors were far better than anything Chevy had to offer.

    Between my Dad, Bro and Sis, they went through a total of 4 Grand Ams.

    I, on the other hand, became a Ford Man.

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