I bought this car as my first car. I was looking for something that as a teen I could afford, but didn't want a little four banger like a Cavalier. The Grand Am GT is the perfect car for this.
First off the car looks great, very sporty and fast looking. To simply put it the car is eye-catching.
The handling on the car is great, it drives very true, you can let off the wheel and the car will have no problem staying in a straight line. Cornering under heavy braking, acceleration, and in sharp curves is good. The back end can get a little loose, but not really that much. The car has very good fell, so you can feel everything that's happening so you won't be surprised. The traction control makes it hard to lose control of the car, which is definitely a good thing if you ever run into trouble. I haven't driven the car in snow yet, but by my other expericne with GM cars with the same traction system it should be a good snow car. Also the traction system makes the car fell less like a front-wheel drive and more like a rear wheel, which I defintly like.
The 3.4L 175 horse engine does a great job. Acceleration is quick and will throw you back in the seat with relative ease. Basically you have all the power you need, and a bit extra, regardless of your speed. Be careful (or not) cause you'll easily burn rubber) And the quad exhaust provides a very nice note.
You've probably heard numerous other Grand Am owner complaning about their brake rotars and things like that. There's a kind of grinding sound. It's pretty quiet, but you can hear it when you're going slow, like under 20 if you're braking or coasting. It's nothing wrong with the car or the brakes or anything like that so don't go replace your rotars. It's the Goodyear tires that were orginally equipped on all the Grand Am's. So just bear with it (cause it's really not that bad) or go buy some new tires. And the problem isn't doing any damage to the car anyway.
I have the GT version and I highly reccomend it. You should be able to get a 2000 GT for around 12 thousand. That's if you go for an all out one with everything on it. However a lot of the Grand Am's that I drove were driven hard and sometimes things like the transmission were off key. Cause a lot of these cars have been driven hard by their previous owners. So pay special attention to the way the engine looks and go over everything during your test drive. If you find one in good condition (which most are) then go for it. The SE version with the four banger provide good acceleration, but if you want a little extra something to enjoy then at least get the 6 cylinder SE, or better yet the GT (which also holds better resale values) you won't regret it cause she's a great car.
Also I wanted to add real quick that the seats up front and in the back have good leg and head room. 6'5" guy will fit easily up front and 6'1" is defintly fine for in the back. The car also has good trunk room.