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Trinacriabob reviews new Monte Carlo


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I spent Easter in Portland and had booked a full-size with Avis. A little over $ 50 for 2 days. Not bad.

Avis doesn't have LaCrosses at this location, so I went up to the parking deck to see what they had and noted a couple of Monte Carlo parking spot numbers. I got a white coupe as a result of my snooping around.

A couple of things have changed since the last model run and some things are the same. The first thing one notices are the seats. These are the plumper, boxier buckets found in the Impala. Unlike the GP, these are not the Recaro wanna-bes that are hard on anything above a 29 inch waist and one who has smallish lats. Rather, they are comfortable, nicely upholstered buckets and have some wiggle room.

The other thing one notices is that the ride is quieter, smoother and that there's more pep. Upon arriving at my Mom's house, I noticed two tailpipes. OK. I got a 3900 VVT V6 and not the base 3500 VVT V6 I had come to expect. It accelerated briskly but, to the trained ear of the constant renter, there is a difference between the engine sound of a Chevy 60 degreee OHV V6 and that of a Buick 90 degree OHV V6. I prefer the latter; however, this one is compliant in terms of performance but ornery in the sound department. Fuel economy was only so-so. Past 3400s I have rented returned stellar gas mileage. But then, here we are jumping from 185 hp to 242 hp. It's quite a bit. Still, I am sure the 3500 V6 at 211 hp would have been fine.

I would describe the ride as being somewhere between that of a LaCrosse and a Grand Prix. Not as serene as that of the LaCrosse and not as nimble as that of the Grand Prix. The power band is nicely modulated and the transmission was one of the nicest ones I've commanded. Shift points were clearly defined yet very smooth.

In living in the Monte Carlo, I've noticed that I appreciate the greenhouse of the big coupe door. Nowhere in my peripheral vision does the door frame come into view. It makes for great visibility. As for looking rearward, the right rear view is excellent because of 1) the large opera window and 2) the slight rounded wrap of the backlite. The left rear view isn't as good but I still found a spot where I could look through the opera window behind me. Overall, visibility is better than in the GP or LaX.

Kudos to a simple straightforward dash. It blends the scalloped tops of the last model with some new features. The 3 main bezels are articulated individually and, at night, they are beautiful. The light is blue instead of that washed out white always found in many Chevrolets. Also, the illumination on the console is absent. As I have spilled several carbonated soft drinks on my illuminated gear selector in my Regal, I don't mind looking at the indicator on the dash.

The organization of the Monte's center stack is also straightforward. Below the 2 center vents are a large entertainment center pod with dials that are nice to the touch and the climate controls are below that. Now, I must say that the ergonomics department missed out on something here. The climate control dials are so low, almost where the center stack starts to angle away from the normal person's reach. When the shift lever is in park, it intrudes on being able to use the climate control system. About the only other stupid thing I noticed was that the lumbar adjustment is a lever. One has to crank it, much like priming a pump. This probably won't hold up over the long-term and felt cheap.

In terms of styling, this is a decent car. The Coke bottle turned sideways headlamps are gone and the new ones are cleaner. They lean back with a nice sweep. At first I didn't like them, but they have grown on me. (However, I don't like them on the Impala). The front fascia hits the sweet spot - being neither the demonic pinched set-up of the GP nor the boring smaller oval of the last gen LeSabre grafted onto the LaX. The MC looks good in the front view, in the front quarter view, from the side, from the rear view but NOT from the rear quarter view. This angle makes the rear fender look thick as the fender crease is too low and the flare out of the C-pillar from "thin to thick" looks awkward. Also noticeable from this vantage point is the pear-shape of the taillamps. If they had only catapulted the rear light shape of the 76 Monte Carlo forward 30 years and incorporated that shape in the design! It appears that the spoiler is standard. I don't like it. The one that juts upward is much nicer than the one that seemingly lies flat. Still, I could do without it.

Overall, this is a very nice car. It has improved. How VVT meshes with the Chevy V6s remains to be seen. The nicest thing is the cabin. The front seats are very, very comfortable. (While driving with Mom to Easter brunch, she commented that she liked the seats). This is where one would be living and it's a great environment. However, for those who hear my rants, one foregoes having the ultra-reliable 3800 V6 for another OHV V6 engine with a technological twist that is fairly new. And, amen, they have managed to tune the chassis to tone down the tire thum that reviewers constantly complained about....what took them so long to make a chassis adjustment that really cranks up the motoring experience. I enjoyed my weekend zipping around Portland and its environs under constantly overcast skies and surrounded by the many inbreds (Tonya Harding et al) who should welcome the transplants instead of snarling at them. Thumbs up to 2006 Monte Carlo....KnightFan will be glad to hear that, I'm sure!

Edited by trinacriabob
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Nice write-up, I really don't hae much to say.

first I didn't like them, but they have grown on me. (However, I don't like them on the Impala).

My same opinion.

And I like the fact the Monte's interior is diffrentiated from the Impala and gives it a sportier feel, even if the ergonomics are so-so.

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I drove the new model just yesterday. I cannot say that I like it.

Not only does it suffer from being the "white trash" car of America, it's also one of the chintziest and ugliest vehicles GM is currently making with the exception of the Colorado and Aveo (yet, both vehicles were heavily engineered by Izuzu and Daewoo)

When I closed the door, It sounded like I was hitting two pieces of tin together. Not pleasant.

The interior looked okay.. but the radio was too low and the odd shapes of the dash make it look like the pieces don't fit together.

Finally, it isn't very fun to drive.

I was in the V8 model and my 4 cylinder Grand Am is much more sporty.

Sorry.. but it was a miss for me.

Edited by Cadillacfan
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I drove the new model just yesterday.  I cannot say that I like it.

Not only does it suffer from being the "white trash" car of America, it's also one of the chintziest and ugliest vehicles GM is currently making with the exception of the Colorado and Aveo (yet, both vehicles were heavily engineered by Izuzu and Daewoo)

When I closed the door, It sounded like I was hitting two pieces of tin together.  Not pleasant.

The interior looked okay.. but the radio was too low and the odd shapes of the dash make it look like the pieces don't fit together.

Finally, it isn't very fun to drive.

I was in the V8 model and my 4 cylinder Grand Am is much more sporty.

Sorry.. but it was a miss for me.

Yeh what i hear is you love it or hate it.

CadillacFan - where is that clip in your avatar from?

Edited by jbartley
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I drove the new model just yesterday.  I cannot say that I like it.

Not only does it suffer from being the "white trash" car of America, it's also one of the chintziest and ugliest vehicles GM is currently making with the exception of the Colorado and Aveo (yet, both vehicles were heavily engineered by Izuzu and Daewoo)

When I closed the door, It sounded like I was hitting two pieces of tin together.  Not pleasant.

The interior looked okay.. but the radio was too low and the odd shapes of the dash make it look like the pieces don't fit together.

Finally, it isn't very fun to drive.

I was in the V8 model and my 4 cylinder Grand Am is much more sporty.

Sorry.. but it was a miss for me.

Yeah, I've never driven one, but I've gotten a similar impression from just sitting in and playing around with a few over the years. Not a horrendous car, but comes off as pretty clunky and old tech in a lot of ways...

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Sometimes I really think GM just didn't give a damn when re-doing this car.

maybe they were just giving us a stopgap freshening before the RWD coupes come out? Maybe the Monte is dead soon? :scratchchin:

I agree with the old tech analogy - when compared to what is out there in the price range - there are a lot better cars than the Monte to choose from. Hell, the New Beetle was more fun to drive!

And, before I am nailed as a GM basher on that - I drive a 95 Buick Roadmonster WAGON almost daily...and I love it. :)

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Not only does it suffer from being the "white trash" car of America, it's also one of the chintziest and ugliest vehicles GM is currently making Sorry.. but it was a miss for me.

Hilarious! The "white trash" label is because of the NASCAR association, right?

Sorry, I had forgotten The O.C. did a review, but his focused more on the engine. He doesn't like the car itself very much, either. (Come to think of it, I too got a little bit of vibration at idle...but it was intermittent).

Remember, the Monte is a throwback to the late 70s Cutlass Supreme, mid 80s Toronado/Riviera type of packaging at a budget price. It's not a bad car, really, it's just not up to date with everything else we compare it to. That's true.

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I like the Monte Carlo. Handling is competant, it doesn't float all over the road. But more importantly, it appears Chevy hasn't fallen into the trap of trying to make it a true "sporty coupe" in the mold of BMW and Mercedes.

It seems that the thing to do today in mid sized cars (except for Buicks and Mercurys) is to make the seats very firm and the suspsion very tight..which allows for a sporty feel but a worse ride. I like the comprimise with the Monte Carlo. It handles OK, but yet to me the ride was much more comfortable than other cars I have been in like a BMW 3 series, Acura TSX, Grand AM GT, Honda Accord and Camry Solara.

The Monte Carlo doesn't pretend to be something it is not.

One word on the 06's though. I just had a chance to rent one last week. It have drivine a relatives 2003 Monte Carlo with the 200hp 3.8 many times...and the new 3.5 211 hp V6 I reneted actually felt a tad bit weaker. Not much mind you, but a little bit. Maybe it has less torque?

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I like the Monte Carlo. Handling is competant, it doesn't float all over the road. But more importantly, it appears Chevy hasn't fallen into the trap of trying to make it a true "sporty coupe" in the mold of BMW and Mercedes.

It seems that the thing to do today in mid sized cars (except for Buicks and Mercurys) is to make the seats very firm and the suspsion very tight..which allows for a sporty feel but a worse ride.  I like the comprimise with the Monte Carlo. It handles OK, but yet to me the ride was much more comfortable than other cars I have been in like a BMW 3 series, Acura TSX, Grand AM GT, Honda Accord and Camry Solara.

The Monte Carlo doesn't pretend to be something it is not.

One word on the 06's though. I just had a chance to rent one last week.  It have drivine a relatives 2003 Monte Carlo with the 200hp 3.8 many times...and the new 3.5 211 hp V6 I reneted actually felt a tad bit weaker. Not much mind you, but a little bit.  Maybe it has less torque?

thank you... as an owner of a 2004 supercharged ss (see my sig) i like to hear from people that realize that the car doesnt suck just because its different, thats why i like it, its not in the cookie cutter mold of every other sports coupe out there, it knows its no M3 and doesnt try to be, its itself plain and simple and i love it.

as far as the critics... i realize ive been very defensive of my car... i am getting more accepting as i do realize it is a love it or hate it design, i will try to accept what you have to say as your opinion altho if you try to say its a disgrace to the nameplate i cant gaurantee anything.

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I had the opportunity to drive both a base LS Monte with the 3500 211 hp engine and an LT3 with it's 3900 and 242 hp. Both cars felt very similar to drive actually with the LT3 version having more bells and whistles, 17" vs 16" tires and dual exhaust. What surprised me was that the 3900 didn't really seem much if at all faster than the base 3500 model. The LS did have 5,000 more break in miles so maybe the 3900 was still green and tight. Still for the 3 mpg difference in mileage I would take the 3500 engine in a mildly loaded LT for the extra fuel economy in these insane energy crazy times. 4 things that really annoyed me with this car were the lack of exterior door moldings which gave the side of the car a unfinished appearance, the lack of shift indicators on the floor shifter made it look stark, the rear spoiler on both models really shouldn't be included as std equipment and the lack of wood trim as an option to the silver stuff is strange seeing as how the Impala has it. I also wish you could get an interior with two-tone tan or gray and leave the black steering wheel and upper dash to the ebony interior option. There needs to be more choices on how you can set up the interior on this car. I alos couldn't help thinking how much better these 2 engines would have performed with the new 6 speed automatic. The old 4 speed auto saps a lot of pep from 40-70 mph compared to some CVT and 6 speed automatics I have sampled. Fix these issues and I would purchase a MC!

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...4 things that really annoyed me with this car were the lack of exterior door moldings which gave the side of the car a unfinished appearance...

A very minor issue, but that's one I've always wondered about too. It was never as if the moldings on the '00-04 looked at all out of place, so when they removed them for '05, it just came off as strange...and left the sides looking intentionally stripped.

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I had the opportunity to drive both a base LS Monte with the 3500 211 hp engine and an LT3 with it's 3900 and 242 hp. Both cars felt very similar to drive actually surprised me was that the 3900 didn't really seem much if at all faster than the base 3500 model.

the lack of shift indicators on the floor shifter made it look stark, the rear spoiler on both models really shouldn't be included as std equipment and the lack of wood trim as an option to the silver stuff is strange seeing as how the Impala has it. I also wish you could get an interior with two-tone tan or gray and leave the black steering wheel and upper dash to the ebony interior option.

Absolutely on all of these counts.

While I didn't have the base engine, I don't think the difference would be that big in everyday driving...and I'll take the extra MPG.

Shift indicator - could have an indicator, but need not be illuminated. remember, it's in the instrument panel

Spoiler - yes, ditch it, I like the clean trunk look

Wood - even faux, better than the silver applique

Two tone of the tan or gray - right you are, the base Malibu even does this. There is no excuse. I think that the black bits stuff crap is offensive. A tan interior needs a tan steering wheel and a tan dashboard. Period.

Above it was posted that the Monte Carlo does not pretend to be anything else. Correct. There is no other car occupying that niche. Now, I like it but I don't love it. I think that, given a pencil, I would make some changes that could improve it. Have you imagined it WITHOUT the fender creases? I would still be a Monte Carlo but look a helluva lot better.

Also, I wish the "knight" emblem would appear SOMEWHERE on the car.

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Also, I wish the "knight" emblem would appear SOMEWHERE on the car.

AMEN even tho its only a matter of badging thats one of my small nitpicks with the new model... along with the lack of interior options and side moldings...

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The Monte Carlo doesn't pretend to be something it is not.

*raises eyebrow*

The only bad thing about it is that it's not RWD.

This ... and the lack of the aforementioned MC Knight Crest/Shield emblem.....

Cort, "Mr MC" / "Mr Road Trip", 32swm/pig valve/pacemaker

MC:family.IL.guide.future = http://www.chevyasylum.com/cort/

CD Showcase.8p-11p central.04/28/06, www.wrmn1410.com

"You've made a fool of everyone" ... Jet ... 'Look What You've Done'

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The Monte Carlo doesn't pretend to be something it is not.

*raises eyebrow*

The only bad thing about it is that it's not RWD.

This ... and the lack of the aforementioned MC Knight Crest/Shield emblem.....

Cort, "Mr MC" / "Mr Road Trip", 32swm/pig valve/pacemaker

MC:family.IL.guide.future = http://www.chevyasylum.com/cort/

CD Showcase.8p-11p central.04/28/06, www.wrmn1410.com

"You've made a fool of everyone" ... Jet ... 'Look What You've Done'

And the total lack of refinement, quality, and all around appeal.

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Well, at least it's American! 8) Worlds better than the half baked POS 335 Bratbomb I just read about.

Style, quality, interior space for a great price, buy the Monte.

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domesticated... THANK YOU!!!!! i am accepting of all opinions on the monte carlo but im confused as to why people ont like it... they never go into specifics... they just say "its ugly" or "its unrefined" how so? explain!! when i ont like a cars styling... i explain why so that people can see what im saying as oppose to just wonering what im talking about...

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domesticated... THANK YOU!!!!! i am accepting of all opinions on the monte carlo but im confused as to why people ont like it... they never go into specifics... they just say "its ugly" or "its unrefined" how so? explain!! when i ont like a cars styling... i explain why so that people can see what im saying as oppose to just wonering what im talking about...

Plastichrome on grill surround bubbling on a car thats no more than a few months old, interior design and quality that epitomize everything wrong with GM, and styling that dates back 6 years... What more needs to be said? :huh:

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I drove the new model just yesterday.  I cannot say that I like it.

Not only does it suffer from being the "white trash" car of America, it's also one of the chintziest and ugliest vehicles GM is currently making with the exception of the Colorado and Aveo (yet, both vehicles were heavily engineered by Izuzu and Daewoo)

When I closed the door, It sounded like I was hitting two pieces of tin together.  Not pleasant.

The interior looked okay.. but the radio was too low and the odd shapes of the dash make it look like the pieces don't fit together.

Finally, it isn't very fun to drive.

I was in the V8 model and my 4 cylinder Grand Am is much more sporty.

Sorry.. but it was a miss for me.

I agree....while I was impressed with the 3900 and the overall ride-and-handling, the interior fit-and-finish and material quality is TERRIBLE.....and certainly NOT comparable to the new Impala's.....

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I agree....while I was impressed with the 3900 and the overall ride-and-handling, the interior fit-and-finish and material quality is TERRIBLE.....and certainly NOT comparable to the new Impala's.....

Which is amazing because final assembly is carried out at Oshawa, Ontario, Canada...the best plant in North America.

By the way, The O.C., I had another one of these THIS past weekend and, when pressed into action, the 3900 is noisy. My Regal 3800 with over 200,000 miles is quieter because as soon as I got onto a ramp on Sunday night, I floored it to hear how noisy it is -- it isn't. I am not impressed with the 3900 the way you are.

Edited by trinacriabob
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While I haven't had a chance to drive the new Monte or Impala, I have to say that the style and design of both cars has grown on me a bit. I see a LOT (at least 10 a day) of SS Impalas and Montes running around down here (I guess the V8 does make a big difference), and from what I can tell, they're pretty good looking cars, the headlight design is the hardest thing for me to really latch onto, but still it ain't bad. I guess I could have more to say if I test drive one, but since my 01 Impala is reliable and keeps me happy I won't get that chance.

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  • 5 months later...

I bought mine brand new in 2002 when I was a painter at Jay Chevrolet (highland, MI). I haven't had any "quality" issues. I have been in brand new Camrys and Accords that have had more problems than my Monte ever has had. I used to sell Toyotas. As far as looks go I love mine, just don't car for the older LS models with out a spoiler, and I cant be some odd ball with my opinions, I get people coming up to me all the time complementing me on the styling and the stripes. My only beef with it is that its FWD, the cd player like to phuck up too much but that with any vechicle with that style radio and that its a 3800. Not that I don't love the 3800, it just doesnt have enough power, thank god for www.zzperformance.com But I suppose my opinions don't count, I'm a ricer because I have neon lights under my car! I seriously don't know what it is with the people on this site and their hate towards the Monte C.

Edited by BB_454
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