The GM W-Body Might Be The Front-Wheel-Drive Jack of All Trades
For nearly three decades, the GM W-Body served as the base for an incredible list of vehicles in GM's lineup. It is truly a jack of all trades.
For nearly three decades, the GM W-Body served as the base for an incredible list of vehicles in GM's lineup. Chevrolet, Buick, Oldsmobile, and Pontiac all used the W-Body for their mid-size sedans and coupes and that makes the W-Body a jack of all trades in my books.
1989 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme Ad / Photo Sourced from Hagerty
The W-Body began development back in 1982 and was released to the public in 1987 in the forms of the 1988 model year Buick Regal, Pontiac Grand Prix. The Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme joined the W-Body lineup for the 1988 model year while producing rear-drive versions of the G-Body based Cutlass Supreme for the same model year. In 1990, Chevrolet launched the Lumina in two and four door variants, both using the W-Body. In 1995, The Lumina was restyled, and the two door variant was renamed the Monte Carlo.
Powertrains for the 1st Gen W-bodies ranged from GM's nearly indestructable 2.5-liter Iron Duke four-cylinder, to high-output engines such as the Quad-4, 3.4 LQ1 DOHC V6, the LG5 which was produced with McLaren, and GM's 3800 Series V6. Most of the models featured three or four-speed automatics, while a select few models had the option of a five-speed manual.
1998 Buick Regal GSX Stage 2 / Photo Sourced from ClunkClunk on Pinterest
Going into 1997, the introduction of the Buick Century alongside the new Buick Regal and Pontiac Grand Prix was done on the second generation of the W-Body. The W-Body was produced in two different wheelbases for the second generation, either 109 inches or 110.5 inches. In 1998, Oldsmobile unveiled the Intrigue to replace the Cutlass Supreme. In 2000, Chevrolet brought back the Impala nameplate after it's brief but iconic stint as the Impala SS from 1994-1996. An updated Monte Carlo was unveiled for 2000.
Maximum power output for the second generation W-Body was increased significantly thanks to GM's L67 Supercharged engines. These six-cylinder engines could be found in the Impala SS, Monte Carlo SS, Buick Regal GS, and Pontiac Grand Prix GTP. The highest horsepower variants of the L67 could be found in the Buick Regal GSX Stage 3 and the Pontiac Grand Prix 300 GPX. Both tuned by Street Legal Performance, the GSX put out 270 horsepower and 312 lb-ft, while the 300 GPX put out 300 horsepower and 335 lb-ft.
2005-2008 Pontiac Grand Prix GXP / Photo Sourced from Wheelsage
In 2004, the third generation of the W-Body was unveiled in the form of the seventh generation Pontiac Grand Prix. The Buick LaCrosse would follow in 2005, being built alongside the Regal and Century, both in their final model year. The Chevrolet Impala and Monte Carlo were the only other vehicles to use the third generation W-Body, they were unveiled in 2006.
Powering these full-size front-wheel-drive beasts were a plethora of GM V6s, making respectable amounts of horsepower, anywhere from 200-240 horsepower. But the big numbers came in the form of the Monte Carlo SS, Impala SS, Lacrosse Super, and Grand Prix GXP. These high-performance models featured GM's LS4 5.3-liter V8. This V8 was adapted for front-wheel-drive and produced 303 horsepower and 323 lb-ft. For some reason though, it only makes 300 horsepower in the LaCrosse Super. Interestingly, the MPG for the V8, at least in the LaCrosse Super, was rated at 16 city / 24 highway, only 1 mpg less than the V6s available.
Zero to 60 for the LS4 cars were in the high 5 second range.
2014 Chevrolet Impala LTZ Limited / Photo Sourced from GM Media
We arrive at the end of the W-Body with the Impala Limited. The ultimate version of the W-Body. While the LS4's and the epic 90's styled coupes and sedans were all interesting. The Impala Limited might actually be the single-greatest vehicle GM produced for the mass market next to the Corvette. The 3.6-liter LFX V6 put out 302 horsepower and 262 lb-ft. Combined with a six-speed automatic, this got the Impala Limited from zero to sixty in 6.2 seconds, a half second slower than the Impala SS, but the Impala Limited got 30 miles per gallon on the highway.
The W-Body cars are an incredible starter kit for a driver interested in American muscle, for the most part, these cars have plenty of power and will definitely turn some heads as you blow the doors off of the laundry list of teenagers in their souped up Hondas, Nissans, etc. All while being coddled with somewhat luxurious interiors, and miles of carefree driving. Not to mention that even the Impala Limited can be found for about seven grand, which of course means that any of the other models can be had for cheaper than that.
What are your thoughts on the W-Body? What other platforms are equal parts luxury and performance oriented? Comment Below!