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1996 Pontiac Trans Sport REVIEW logo 4/5/2017

What’s New: A 180-horsepower, 3.4-liter V6 replaces weak base engine as well as the optional 3.8-liter V6. Front air conditioning is standard equipment for 1996.

Review: Pontiac's is the sporty version of GM's plastic-paneled minivan trio, whereas Chevrolet's Lumina appeals to the value-minded and the Oldsmobile Silhouette contains more luxury touches. Like the Lumina, it endured shrinkage of the nose in 1994 (while Silhouette stuck with the original jutting snout), but shows little change this year except for the addition of a 180-horsepower 3.4-liter V6 as the standard, and only, engine choice. Air conditioning also joins the standard equipment list.

Plop into the driver's seat, and the windshield seems like it's in the next county, flanked by triangular panes that do little for visibility. Once you get used to the unusual view (which doesn't take long), you'll find a huge amount of room in front, with an attractive and well-fitted interior that includes sturdy cupholders on the console. You sit in a different position than in most minivans, but except for a rather low seatback, seating is comfortable. Excellent gauges are sport-oriented, as in most Pontiacs. Five-passenger seating is standard, but many Trans Sports are sold with space for seven.

Four-wheel antilock braking is standard, along with a driver's airbag. Options include automatic level control, traction assist, and a power sliding door. A full overhead console can be installed, including an outside temperature gauge, compass, sunglass holder, and space for a garage door opener.

GM's minivan trio won't be around much longer in this form, and this year's Pontiac comes in just one equipment level. The 1997 Trans Sport, due late this summer, will be made of steel, instead of the composite body panels that resist dents, dings, and rusting. It will also be more conservatively styled. If the radical look of today's Pontiac minivan is what you want, better hurry to your dealer soon.


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