The Pontiac Bonneville SSE Mixed Gold With Plastic

Rejoice as MotorWeek's John Davis compares Pontiac's best for 1988 to a bravely designed toaster oven.

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General Motors

Pontiac's full-sized front-wheel drive sedan was based on the same H-body platform as the Oldsmobile 88 and Buick LeSabre, and for the second model year, GM threw all its molded plastic at it to make sure it would stand out. Arguably, the resulting 1988 Bonneville SSE did.

On the exterior, Pontiac buyers got a full body kit with body-colored wheels, integrated fog lamps, as well as golden logos and trim pieces all around. Apparently, the "boy racer" in them was supposed to be impressed by with this type of "Euro sedan treatment."

Under the hood, it was the same fuel-injected 3.8 V6 as before, except with 10 percent more juice at 165 horsepower and 210 lb.ft. With that, SSE drivers could enjoy 18 MPGs and a zero-to-sixty run in 9.2 seconds, which was only slightly worse than a 1984 Renault 11 Turbo's time. A manual gearbox wasn't an option, but to improve handling, Pontiac threw in a beefed up suspension, and anti-lock brakes as standard.

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General Motors

Inside, luxury was represented by acres of leather, fake wood, a complex power seat, a rather useless digital compass, and all the steering wheel mounted buttons GM could mold. Yet those came handy on the road, given how complicated Pontiac's stereo system was otherwise. All these features came at a hefty premium, but of course GM's full-sized sedan was still cheaper than Audi's. Too bad Motorweek found a better option within Pontiac's lineup.

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