- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 2, 2006

Pontiac’s Torrent is a five-passenger SUV that’s available in either front-wheel drive (FWD) or all-wheel drive (AWD). The 4WD version weighs in at 116 pounds more than its FWD counterpart. Both drive configurations derive their motive power from a standard 3.4-liter 3400 OHV V-6 that delivers 185 horsepower and 210 foot-pounds of torque. The motor mates to an electronically controlled five-speed automatic transmission.

In terms of the Torrent’s exterior appearance, it displays design elements that link it to Pontiac’s heritage. The overall shape suggests a minivan, but on a somewhat smaller order and more aerodynamic. The four doors open conventionally however, and there are no side sliding doors. Ingress and egress height is low and convenient, resting over sporty 17-inch, five-blade aluminum alloy wheels.

Inside, the multiconfigurable versatility adds to the functionality.

The rear 60/40 split rear seat adjusts fore and aft while it also reclines and folds flat. The front passenger seat folds forward and flat as well for hauling longer items. There is an available multiposition adjustable rear package shelf that can serve as an effective cargo cover. The overall interior feel is upscale and well-crafted. Instruments and gauges feature Pontiac’s signature red-toned backlighting.

The test Pontiac Torrent was an all-wheel-drive model finished outside in Blue Streak metallic and inside in Ebony with light Cashmere inserts, accented by chrome trim elements. The base price was set at $24,300, while the Preferred Package with six-way power driver’s seat, deep-tinted glass, premium cloth, cruise control, inside auto-dimming mirror with temperature and compass, redundant radio controls, luggage rack crossbars, leather-wrapped steering wheel, carpeted front and rear floor mats and cargo convenience net; Security Package that included side impact air bags and head curtain and OnStar service (one year); 17-inch aluminum wheels and all-season tires; and destination charge bumped the final window sticker to $27,830.

The Torrent’s V-6 power delivers healthy acceleration, with smooth shifts through the five forward gears in either direction. The ride is firm, yet comfortable and compliant with the FE2 Sport suspension, and the handling attributes are nimble, thanks to the standard electric power steering.

The segment-leading wheelbase and wide track combine, contributing to the Torrent’s carlike overall feel. Torrent shares the same basic architecture as the Chevrolet Equinox and Saturn Vue. Stopping efficiency comes via front vented disc brakes and rear drums featuring four-channel ABS braking.

The Torrent is a sound and welcome addition to Pontiac’s versatile stable, with pleasing looks and value-laden pricing structure.

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