I Have Always Had a Deep Respect for the Pontiac Torrent and I Don't Know Why

All photos: Pontiac

“Whoosh” I hear as a car drives past. I glance over, and see the tail end of a handsome orphan SUV: a Pontiac Torrent. I give it a slight head nod out of respect. It applies its brake lights in return. The Torrent is a boring car in some ways, but it and I have an understanding.

This is not the first time I’ve written about the Torrent, and it won’t be the last. The car deserves more credit than it gets. Well, at least I think it does—if only for its styling.

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It may have Chevy Equinox bones, but the GM Theta Platform-based SUV that launched for 2006 has always been much cooler in my eyes. The front-end remains handsome even after 12 years, with those simple but aggressive headlights, and the big pontiac nostrils that say “Don’t screw with me, buster.”

Is it as tough as it looks? Sure. The base 3.4-liter V6 is the final iteration of GM’s old-school pushrod 60 degree V6. It wasn’t powerful at 185 horsepower and 210 lb-ft, but from what I’ve read online, it could do 60 mph in under eight seconds and it seems reasonably reliable. Ditto with the five-speed Aisin AF-33, which was used in damn near everything in that era.

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There was also the GXP shown in these pictures. Its LY7 dual overhead cam V6 made 264 HP (!!!) and 250 lb-ft of torque, and it, like the base engine, could send that power to all four wheels. Though unlike the base engine, it got mated to six-speed GM6T70. Zero to 60 came in under seven seconds. Not bad.

None of that matters, though. What matters are the looks. It’s just a solid design, and that’s remarkable considering its era and its platform mates.

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About the author

David Tracy

Writer, Jalopnik. 1979 Jeep Cherokee Golden Eagle, 1985 Jeep J10, 1948 Willys CJ-2A, 1995 Jeep Cherokee, 1992 Jeep Cherokee auto, 1991 Jeep Cherokee 5spd, 1976 Jeep DJ-5D, totaled 2003 Kia Rio