2000 Chevrolet Monte Carlo

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2000 Chevrolet Monte Carlo
Available in 2 styles:  2000 Chevrolet Monte Carlo 2dr Coupe shown
Asking Price Range
$1,134–$9,066
Estimated MPG

20 city / 29–32 hwy

Expert Reviews

    Expert Reviews 2 of 9

By 

Boston.com

UPON ITS 30TH ANNIVERSARY, MONTE CARLO LOOKS ITS BEST

I am Dale Earnhardt.

I've got the throaty burble of the Chevrolet push-rod engine rising from twin exhausts behind me and a clean view over a hood that slopes cleanly away before me. But my 2000 Monte Carlo SS is caught in the pack.

I look for an opening and ease into it, throttle up and make my move. The Boston skyline disappears in my rearview mirror as I head up Interstate 93, another commuter country-bound.

This is the 30th anniversary of the Monte Carlo, and Chevrolet has produced the best-looking version of the car yet. It combines that NASCAR aura with some nice retro touches. You've got the long hood and short deck, the low nose and high back end. There are vertical taillights reminiscent of the '70s, body-colored rocker moldings and rear spoiler, fog lamps built into the front fascia.

And this model is an arresting red - arrest as in, see me, stop me, I must be speeding in a car that looks like this.

So that's how it looks. How does it go?

The SS comes with a 3.8-liter V-6 that's mounted in an aluminum engine cradle. It cranks out 200 horsepower (in 1983 it took a 5-liter V-8 to put out 200 horses in the Monte Carlo) and delivered a little more than 23 miles per gallon in a week of mixed driving.

The four-speed, electronic transmission shifts smoothly, but shifts up at about 5,500 RPMs, a bit sooner than I'd like and a bit sooner than this engine needs.

Its torque is packed down low where, I suspect, Monte Carlo fans like it. It's quick off the line - 0-60 in a reported 7.5 seconds - and at commuter speed it picks up effortlessly for fast passing.

I found the handling to be a bit baffling, however. This is a front-wheel-drive car that sometimes feels like rear-wheel drive. It's boaty at low speeds, yet seems to sit down and tighten up at speed in corners. You find yourself correcting as you try to hold a line through a long carve as understeer (symptomatic of front-wheel drive) and body roll become factors in your arc.

On the highway, during lane shifts, it slides in and out of lanes rather than snaps the way some foreign cars behave. This is not bad, just different, and after some time behind the wheel I felt confident pushing it through S-turns and quick lane changes.

Its suspension is four-wheel independent struts, springs, torsion bars, and stabilizer bars. This system is "tuned up" in the SS model, Chevrolet says.

In the SS model (LS is the lesser 180-horsepower version) you also get traction control, which cuts engine power and modulates your brakes when it senses you need more traction.

Unique to a car in this price range (low- to mid-20s), you also get a monitor that keeps track of tire inflation and lets you know if a tire is going soft.

The view out the front is clean and spacious and the view out the rear window is expansive - surprising given the seemingly narrow appearance of the glass as it slopes sharply back.

The front leather bucket seats were broad, firm for the back but a bit soft at the thighs. The rear seat is surprisingly large for a midsize coupe and three adults fit back there with ample leg and headroom.

Audio and climate controls are large buttons and knobs, few enough in number to be easy to understand and use. I hear from readers more and more that they are sick of control panels that look like a home computer keyboard and, as cars roll through my hands week after week, I get the sense that automakers are hearing the same thing.

Another feature I like - and one that's showing up in lesser-priced cars more frequently - is that the audio and cruise-control buttons are built into the spokes of the steering wheel. You quickly learn to use them without having to look down.

There is not a lot you have to add on to the base model SS, though for about $2,700 you can get a package of goodies that includes electric power sunro , leather accent bucket seats up front, a driver "info" center built into the dash, dual power outside heated mirrors, six-way power driver's seat, a beefed-up audio system, and heated front seats.

One thing you might wish you could buy is a little more storage space in the compartment. The bins in the doors are too small for anything but the smallest of maps. And the bin at center console beneath the dash has a terrible defect - it is open at its rear and items can disappear from the bin down into God-knows-where. Only the center console bin offers good space.

But, at this price, this is a good car. It's not a screaming high-performance rig and, of course, it really shares only a basic body shape with a NASCAR racing machine. But for good fun, great engine sound, spacious interior room, and a chance to fantasize, it's just fine.

I hold the line in the long, slightly banked left-hand turn. As I come to the straight, I throttle down and coast into the pits, pulling up to the school bus stop where my kids and some neighbor kids await. They pile in. We rumble off.

I was Dale Earnhardt.

Nice touches

- The scooped-out rear seats. Feel like buckets, help give you all that headroom.

- The outside mirrors. Aerodynamic and narrow, but manage to give a full view of the road behind. Some European manufacturers ought to study these.

Annoyances

- The cupholders up front are too shallow. Tall water bottles tumble out of them. So would a tall coffee cup.

- The pop-up sunroof is too noisy when open. It needs a wind-sound deflecting lip or something


    Expert Reviews 2 of 9

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