SEE ALSO: Chevrolet Buyer's Guide
SPECIFICATIONS Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price $ 21,735 Price As Tested $ 24,579 Engine Type OHV 12-valve 3.8 Liter V6 w/SMFI* Engine Size 231 cid/3791 cc Horsepower 200 @ 5200 RPM Torque (lb-ft) 225 @ 4000 RPM Wheelbase/Width/Length 110.5"/72.7"/197.9" Transmission Four-speed automatic Curb Weight 3429 pounds Fuel Capacity 17.0 gallons Tires (F/R) P225/60R16 Brakes (F/R) Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS) Drive Train Front-engine/front-wheel-drive Vehicle Type Five-passenger/two-door Domestic Content NA Coefficient of Drag (Cd.) NA PERFORMANCE EPA Economy, miles per gallon city/highway/average 20/29/24 0-60 MPH 8.0 seconds 1/4 (E.T.) 16.5 seconds @ 86.0 mph Top-speed 120 mph * Sequential multi-port fuel injection
Introduced in 1970 as a "personal" coupe, the Chevrolet Monte Carlo was smooth, powerful and comfortable. Its most desirable version was the top-of-the line SS with a big 454 CID V8 engine that made it a screamer.
The 2000 Monte Carlo SS we test this week is much tamer, however, but it does follow in its forefather's tire prints.
OUTSIDE - Although the Monte Carlo shares its platform with the new Chevrolet Impala, no exterior panels are the same. Its silhouette is sleek and smooth, with sweeping character lines that run the length of its sides and break just around the door handles. The grille is a small slit across the front end, and the uniquely-shaped headlights wrap around into the fenders. Improvements to the chassis include strut-tower braces under the hood, one-piece body stampings and a stiffening superstructure behind the dashboard. Monte Carlo SS models look more assertive on the street than the LS versions, mainly due to their standard five-spoke alloy wheels and larger Goodyear Eagle tires.
INSIDE - There is plenty of room for four inside and five are only slightly squeezed. The front bucket seats are wide and soft, but could use more lumbar support. Lateral support could also be better. The center armrest for the back seat has a pair of handy built-in cupholders and the climb into the rear area is simple because the large doors open wide. The instrument panel is like a cockpit, glowing at night with lots of lighting and lots of buttons that operate the radio and climate controls. The multi-function controls on the steering wheel are easy to use. The ride is quiet inside, thanks to strategic placement of acoustic insulation, and the windows are sealed so well that very little wind noise enters the interior. Standard features include an AM/FM/cassette stereo, climate control, power windows, door locks and outside mirrors, tilt steering, rear window defogger, power trunk opener, fog lamps and remote keyless entry.
ON THE ROAD - The Monte Carlo LS is powered by a 180-horse, 3.4 liter V6, while the SS model uses a 3.8 liter V6 with 200 horsepower. Its 225 lb-ft of torque at 4000 rpm are enough to propel the SS to 60 MPH in just eight seconds which makes entering a crowded highway easy, and passing big-rigs on two-lane roads less worrisome. The engine is very basic in its design, eschewing high-tech overhead camshafts and multiple valves for traditional pushrods that operate two valves per cylinder. It is shared with many GM cars and vans, but the engine that would be welcome under the hood of the Monte Carlo is the supercharged version of the same engine, whose 240 horsepower can be found powering some other corporate siblings. In building the Monte Carlo SS, the company accomplished its mission in offering a smooth, comfortable cruiser that is low in price, but very high on value. A four-speed automatic transmission is standard, as is traction control to reduce wheelspin on slippery surfaces.
BEHIND THE WHEEL - The new car is built on a shared platform and it's apparent that all that extra chassis bracing has worked. Its wide track allows for more stable handling and very little body roll, while the die-cast magnesium beam that runs under the dash virtually eliminates steering column shake and vibration. The car uses strut-type independent suspension front and rear, with coil springs and an anti-roll bar to keep it stable in cornering. This year a new aluminum engine cradle provides a solid foundation for the powertrain, front suspension, steering and front sheetmetal. Also, Chevy engineers stiffened many major structural components to improve the ride and reduce noise and vibration. The brakes are better now, with four-wheel discs replacing the disc/drum setup of the last generation model. An anti-lock braking system (ABS) is standard.
SAFETY - Dual airbags, ABS, side-impact door beams, daytime running headlamps and a tire inflation monitoring system are all standard.
OPTIONS - Leather upholstery: $625; Power sunroof: $700; CD player upgrade: $223; Preferred Equipment Group (heated mirrors, power driver's seat, auto-dimming mirrors, driver information center): $736;