For 2006, the Pontiac Grand Prix’s biggest change was actually done in mid-2005 calendar year. The model lines have switched: the mid-range GT now uses a supercharged engine, while the new top-of-the-line GXP gets a V8.

There are also several cosmetic changes. There is a new Special Edition package for the Grand Prix and Grand Prix GT, which includes ground effects, body-colour grille, bright exhaust tips and new 17-inch wheels.

Other changes include mini-perforation leather available on the steering wheel, shifter handle and seat inserts; chrome rings on HVAC vents and inside door handle rings; a revised metal trim finish; revised console; ebony-coloured paddles for the Tapshift transmission; new Ebony and Cashmere/Ebony interior colours; and on the outside, Dark Cherry replaces Fusion Orange. (A new 17-inch wheel package available on the base Grand Prix to U.S. buyers cannot be ordered in Canada.)

The three model lines start with the Grand Prix, which is powered by a 3.8-litre V6. The GT uses the same engine, but with a supercharger; the GXP uses a 5.3-litre V8 that it shares with the Chevrolet Impala SS. The engines cannot be interchanged between the lines. All use a four-speed Hydra-Matic transmission, which is a heavy-duty version when mated to the V8.

The base model includes air conditioning, fog lights, power mirrors, deck lid spoiler, 16-inch steel wheels, variable intermittent wipers, cruise control, tilt wheel, power windows, cloth seats, 60/40 folding rear seat, CD player with six speakers, four-wheel disc brakes, and OnStar.

The GT adds 16-inch aluminum wheels, tire pressure monitor, folding front passenger seat, cargo net, leather-wrapped wheel with audio controls, six-way power driver’s seat, dual exhaust, remote starter and ABS.

The GXP includes 18-inch aluminum wheels, front and rear vented brake discs with cross-drilled rotors, CD with MP3, traction control and a head-up display (HUD) that can be added as an option to other models.

The Grand Prix is fun with a practical side; even the base model has decent acceleration, and it corners flat and responds well to wheel input. The interior is screwed together very well, and its wide-opening rear doors and folding seats make it a practical vehicle as well. The supercharged model is great fun, but as the pundits like to say, there’s no replacement for displacement, and the V8 is a serious road rocket, but with enough manners that it’s a great daily driver. It doesn’t have the cachet of an Audi or a BMW, but it also doesn’t have their price tags, either; 303 horsepower for a hair over $36,000 isn’t a bad deal.

Connect with