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1998 Pontiac Grand Prix REVIEW logo 4/5/2017

Con: Overstyled interior. Cheap dashboard plastic.

Pro: Strong powertrains. Fun to drive. Great design.

What’s New: Supercharged GTP models get traction control, and new colors are available inside and out. Second-generation airbags debut as standard equipment.

Review: Ford should worry about the Grand Prix. Loaded with standard safety features, and available in a potent supercharged, 240-horsepower edition, Pontiac's Grand Prix successfully blends form, function and performance into one very appealing and affordable package. The Taurus, by contrast, is little more than overpriced modern art.

Buyers can select from one of three available Grand Prix models: SE sedan, GT coupe or GT sedan. The SE sedan is powered by a 3.1-liter V6 engine good for 160 horsepower. Optional on SE sedan and standard on GT coupe and sedan is GM's 3800 Series II 3.8-liter V6, which kicks out 195 horsepower while delivering 19 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway, figures that nearly match the base powerplant. GT models can be equipped with the GTP package, which includes a supercharged 3800 V6 that makes 240 horsepower. Last year, the GTP was not equipped with traction control, a feature that it really could have used to keep all those ponies in line. For 1998, Pontiac rectifies the problem, and traction control is now standard on all supercharged Grand Prixs.

Included with the GTP package is a transmission that allows the driver to select Normal or Performance shift modes. The antilock brake system includes thick rotors and state-of-the-art calipers for better stopping ability. Steering wheel vibration is reduced thanks to a cross-beam steering column support structure. All Grand Prix models benefit from long-life fluids and parts, such as coolant designed to last five years or 50,000 miles, and platinum-tipped spark plugs that last 100,000 miles under optimal conditions.

Interiors feature analog instrumentation and large, easy-to-use controls. The dashboard is busy looking in the Pontiac tradition, and is lit by a soothing red glow at night. An integrated child seat with a removable wash-out pad is optional on all models. Also optional is the Eyecue head-up display, which projects data for speed, fuel, radio and turn signals onto the windshield for easy viewing. The standard driver information center includes a tire-pressure monitoring system. Standard on GT Sedan and optional on GT Coupe is MagnaSteer variable effort steering, which uses magnetism to vary steering effort.

Dual airbags, antilock brakes and traction control are standard on every Grand Prix. All 1998 Grand Prix models meet federal standards for side-impact protection, and bumpers front and rear are designed to withstand a five-mph impact with no structural or lamp damage. Sedans feature child-safe rear door locks, and an integrated child safety seat is optional for all models.

Yes, Ford should be worried. Interest in the Taurus has waned in recent years because buyers have been drawn to more attractive and often more affordable alternatives. With last year's redesign of the Pontiac Grand Prix, we predict that the Ford battleship will take one more serious hit from the competition.


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