The Monte Carlo was redesigned for the 2000 model year, gaining new two-door coupe styling and growing from midsize to full-size proportions. It carries over for 2001 with minor changes.
The Monte Carlo shares its front-drive platform and V-6 engines with the Impala sedan but wears more adventurous styling in the coupe tradition. The Monte Carlos styling serves as the basis for Chevrolets entrant in NASCAR stock-car racing, though mechanically the stock car has nothing in common with the production version.
Though it uses the same front-drive platform as the Chevy Impala, the Monte Carlo has a unique appearance, including a longer, sloping hood, different headlamps and grille, and character lines etched into the front fenders and rear side panels. The vertical taillamps recall those on the original Monte Carlo of 30 years ago, as does the script lettering for the Monte Carlo badges.
Both the LS and SS models ride on 16-inch wheels and tires, but the SS comes with standard cast-aluminum wheels, a firmer suspension, fog lamps and a rear spoiler.
Both models come with front bucket seats and five-passenger capacity. The roomy Monte Carlo is wide enough to hold three passengers in the rear seat, though the seat is shaped for two. Both models have a standard split, rear seatback that folds to supplement the 15.8-cubic-foot trunk.
The Monte Carlos dashboard is the same as the Impalas, and all major controls are large, handy and well lit. The interior, however, has an abundance of lightweight, cheap-feeling plastic.
Under the Hood
LS models come with a 3.4-liter V-6 engine that generates 180 horsepower, and the SS versions use a 3.8-liter V-6 with 200 hp the same engines as the Impala. Both engines team with a four-speed automatic transmission. Traction control is standard on the SS and not available on the LS.
The Monte Carlo drives much like the similar Impala because the two are so close mechanically. Besides the styling, the biggest difference between the two may be the doors. The Monte Carlos doors are much bigger and heavier than the front doors on the Impala, and they require a lot of room to fully open; this makes getting in and out awkward in tight parking spots.