Minivan; Built in USA
  • 3-door van
  • transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $1,000 – $2,000*


1996 Pontiac Trans Sport


1990 Pontiac Trans Sport SE


1994 Pontiac Trans Sport


1996 Pontiac Trans Sport SE rear seat


1994 Pontiac Trans Sport power-slicing door

Pros:
  • Acceleration (3.8-liter V6)
  • Passenger and cargo room
Cons:
  • Acceleration (3.1-liter V6)
  • Visibility

Overall, the Trans Sport is a capable and stylish minivan. It provides good interior room, the safety of an airbag and a power sliding door on newer models, plus less boxy styling. While the Trans Sport is no match overall for Chrysler’s new minivans, it’s reasonably priced and a good value in rust-belt areas that experience severe winters.

Overview

Pontiac’s version of the new GM minivan shared its front-drive layout with the Chevrolet Lumina APV and Oldsmobile Silhouette, all of which had a 120-horsepower 3.1-liter V6 hooked to a 3-speed automatic transmission. The body panels of the 1990-96 versions were made of a fiberglasslike composite material, designed to absorb minor impacts and spring back without damage. Trans Sport was available in base 5-passenger and SE 6-passenger trim levels. Both featured reclining front bucket seats. Versatile interiors seated up to seven.

Yearly Updates

1991 Trans Sport
Trans Sports get larger sideview mirrors, with power adjustment standard on SE models. Also, all models get a stainless-steel exhaust system while a roof luggage carrier is a new option.
1992 Trans Sport
Last year’s SE version becomes the base model, retaining the 120-horsepower 3.1-liter V6. Standard on a new GT is GM’s 165-horsepower 3.8-liter V6, coupled to an electronic 4-speed automatic. Finally, standard on all models are antilock brakes.
1993 Trans Sport
After one year, the GT model is dropped, but an even more-powerful engine is made available. The optional 3.8-liter V6 provides five more horsepower and five extra pound-feet of torque–to 170 and 225, respectively. Among Trans Sport’s new options are steering-wheel-mounted auxiliary radio controls and leather upholstery.
1994 Trans Sport
A shorter nose and a new driver-side airbag are the primary changes Pontiac makes to the 1994 Trans Sport. The new front end cuts two inches off the minivan’s overall length, but still includes integrated fog lamps. At the rear, a new center high-mount stoplight has been added. A power sliding side door becomes an option for the Trans Sport. The power sliding door can be activated by buttons inside the vehicle or on the remote-entry keyfob and is designed to stop and reverse direction when it encounters an obstacle.
1995 Trans Sport
A new brake/transmission-shift interlock leads the short list of changes to Pontiac’s plastic-bodied minivan.
1996 Trans Sport
This year’s only engine is a new 180-horsepower 3.4-liter V6. The new engine comes paired with just one transmission–a 4-speed automatic. Trans Sport would be all new for ’97.

Engines

transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive

The Trans Sport arrived in 1990 with a base powertrain consisting of GM’s 120-horsepower 3.1-liter V6 and a 3-speed automatic transmission. It produces 175 pound-feet of torque at 2200 rpm. Standard on the GT model, and optional for the SE for 1992 was a 3.8-liter V6 with 165 horsepower, mated to a smoother 4-speed overdrive automatic. Maximum torque for that engine is 220 pound-feet at 3200 rpm. For 1993, both horsepower and torque move up five, to 170 horsepower and 225 pound-feet of torque. Another new engine arrives in 1996–a 180-horsepower, 3.4-liter V6–replacing both the 3.1-liter and the 3.8-liter V6s, It comes paired with a 4-speed automatic and provides torque of 225 pound-feet at 3200 rpm.

ohv V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.1/191
Engine HP 120
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 175
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
3-speed automatic

19/23

ohv V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.8/231
Engine HP 165-170
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 220-225
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
3-speed automatic
4-speed automatic
17/24
17/25
17.2
ohv V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.4/207
Engine HP 180
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 205
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic

19/26

17.1

Road Test

Featuring a fiberglasslike composite shell bonded to a steel framework, rust isn’t a problem, and the plasticlike bodies are good at absorbing parking-lot dings. However, the long sloping nose of the Trans Sport has proven less than popular with the public. The view from the driver’s seat is also disconcerting. A restyling job in 1994 added a driver-side airbag and shortened the front somewhat.

The Trans Sport’s handling is much more carlike than trucklike. Acceleration is a bit below average with the 3.1-liter V6 and three-speed automatic. However, performance improves with the arrival of GM’s “3800” 3.8-liter V6 paired with a 4-speed automatic. Power is enhanced further in 1996 with the switch to the more fuel efficient 3.4-liter V6 engine.

The interior is roomy, and the removable bucket seats weigh only 36 pounds. Pontiac also gained a convenient power function for its sliding door, which can be activated either by a button inside the vehicle or with the remote-entry keyfob.

Ratings

Model Tested: 1992 Pontiac Trans Sport 3.8-liter

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.

Performance

Acceleration - 5
50%
Fuel Economy - 4
40%
Ride Quality - 6
60%
Steering/Handling - 4
40%
Quietness - 5
50%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 4
40%
Room/Comfort Front - 6
60%
Room/Comfort Rear - 6
60%
Cargo Room - 8
80%

Other

Value - 6
60%

Total: 54

Specifications

3-door van
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
109.8 194.5 74.6 65.7
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
112.6 20.0 7
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.2 38.7 40.1 36.9
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 1996 Trans Sport 3-door van

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 5
100%
Front Passenger Injury - 3
60%

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
N/A0%
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A
N/A0%

HLDI

(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision 65
Injury 53
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Automatic transmission
Description: 4T60E transmissions may drop out of drive while cruising, shift erratically, or have no second, third, or fourth gear because of a bad ground connection for the shift solenoids. (1992-94)
Automatic transmission
Description: TH-125 automatic transmissions may shift late or not upshift at all. The problem is a stuck throttle valve inside the transmission. (1990-94)
Coolant leak
Description: The 3.8-liter V6 may leak coolant into the engine from the intake manifold. A new gasket kit, revised throttle body nuts, and sealing compound is available. Redesigned manifolds are also available in the aftermarket. (1993-96)
Coolant leak
Description: Coolant loss via plastic intake manifold is corrected by installing upgraded manifold and gaskets plus new PCV kit. (1995-96)
Engine noise
Description: Bearing knock was common on 3.3- and 3.8-liter engines due to too much clearance on the number-one main bearing. (1992-94)
Engine noise
Description: A rattling noise from the engine when the car is started after sitting is often caused by automatic-transmission pump starvation or a sticking pressure-regulator valve. (1992-95)
Oil consumption and engine knock
Description: 3.8-liter engines are prone to excessive oil consumption often accompanied by spark knock due to failure of the valve-stem seals. (1993-95)
Steering noise
Description: The upper bearing mount in the steering column can get loose and cause a clicking, requiring a new bearing spring and turn-signal cancel cam. (1994-96)
Transaxle leak
Description: The right front-axle seal at the automatic transaxle is prone to leak. GM issued a revised seal to correct the problem. (1992-94)

Recall History

1990
Description: Rear modular seat frame hold-down hooks may not meet the required pull force.
1990
Description: Right-seat/shoulder-belt retractor may have been installed in second-row left seat position.
1990-91 in 14 states
Description: Rear cradle bolts could pull through retainers, due to corrosion; if both bolts pull through, steering shaft could separate from steering gear.
1992-95
Description: Transmission-cooler line in cars with certain powertrains, sold in specified states, can separate at low temperature.
1993-94 w/optional power sliding door
Description: Shoulder belt can become pinched between seat and door-frame pillar trim.
1994
Description: Pawl spring may be missing from retractors for rear center lap belts.
1994
Description: Third-row seatbelt retractors may lock up when van is on a slope.
1995
Description: On some cars, brake-pedal arm can fracture during braking.
1995 w/3.1-liter engine
Description: Throttle-cable support brackets could contact throttle-lever system and inhibit throttle return; engine speed would then decrease more slowly than anticipated.
1996-98
Description: Faulty power steering bearings may have been installed on certain vehicles, resulting in difficulty turning the steering wheel. Dealers will inspect and replace all affected parts.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.

Pricing

Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.