The Pontiac Bonneville got all the press in 2004 with the introduction of its V8-powered GXP, so changes for 2005 are minimal: OnStar Gen 6 hardware with upgraded hands-free capability has been added, and some of the GXP’s styling cues trickle down to the mid-range SLE.

The SE and SLE are powered by a 3.8-litre V6, while the GXP carries the Northstar 4.6-litre V8. All three use a four-speed transmission.

The SE includes air conditioning, fog lights, power mirrors, 16-inch steel wheels, variable intermittent wipers, cruise control, floor mats, auto-dimming rearview mirror, tilt column, power windows, cloth seats with six-way power driver’s seat, CD player with six speakers, automatic headlights, and power locks with keyless entry.

The SLE adds heated mirrors, deck lid spoiler, 17-inch aluminum wheels, leather-wrapped wheel, “handling” suspension and traction control.

The GXP adds a model-specific rear spoiler, 18-inch aluminum wheels, automatic dual-zone air conditioning, cargo net, leather interior with heated seats and six-way power passenger seat, CD/cassette system with eight speakers, red-finished brake calipers, dual exhaust, stability control, speed-sensitive variable-assist steering, performance suspension, side airbags and emergency trunk kit with inflator air hose.

The largest car in Pontiac’s stable, the Bonneville is a fine driver, with gutsy acceleration and the ability to handle it well even when the road isn’t laid out in a straight line. There’s a bit of torque steer if you punch it really hard. The ride is smooth in that all-day-hauler way that GM does very well in its bigger cars. The design even pushes the corners of GM’s corporate-bland styling envelope.

The V8 and its accompanying suspension and tire modifications make the Bonneville even better, but it’s a shame the power couldn’t have gone to the rear wheels. The Chrysler 300C’s does, with 65 more horsepower, 90 ft-lbs more torque, a powertrain warranty that’s two years and 40,000 km longer, and with a price tag that’s $3,265 lower. You do the math.

The Bonneville is built in Detroit-Hamtramck, Michigan.

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