Despite the Monte Carlo's NASCAR racing heritage, recent versions of the midsize coupe haven't been produced with V-8 engines. But that's changed for the 2006 model year, as the reworked Monte Carlo gets a small-block V-8 for its SS edition.
Introduced at the 2005 Greater Los Angeles Auto Show, the Monte Carlo also gains revised suspension systems and a greater track width. Chevrolet's related Impala sedan gets similar modifications, including the V-8 option, for 2006.
Four trim levels are available: LS, LT, LTZ and SS. Monte Carlos roll on a new group of 16- , 17- and 18-inch wheels. The car's interior features improved seat upholstery stitching, low-gloss instrument-panel components and jewellike dashboard detailing.
Base models use a new 3.5-liter V-6, while uplevel versions get a 3.9-liter V-6. SS models benefit from a new LS4 5.3-liter V-8 that features Displacement On Demand technology, which allows the engine to transition between four- and eight-cylinder operation. Chevrolet says this system promises fuel-economy improvements by as much as 12 percent.
The 2006 Monte Carlo is 1.2 inches shorter overall than its predecessor, but its styling hasn't changed dramatically. Large headlights contain three independent lighting units. New flat-blade windshield wipers provide consistent pressure against the glass.
SS coupes have a distinct front-end look, with a dual-split grille that contains a black diamond pattern. Monte Carlos have a rear deck lid spoiler, and the one on the SS suggests NASCAR-style spoilers. Bright Corvette-inspired exhaust outlets are installed on the SS.
The Monte Carlo has a new base FE2 suspension with constant-rate front springs and variable-rate rear springs. The SS gets an FE4 suspension that's tuned for a firmer ride and greater body control.
Riding a 110.5-inch wheelbase, the Monte Carlo measures 196.7 inches long overall, 55.8 inches tall and 72.9 inches wide. The LS model now uses the same steering ratio as uplevel models.
Seats for five occupants have firmer cushions and increased lumbar support. Nuance sandstone leather seats are optional. The revamped cockpit-style instrument panel displays a new gauge layout, and chrome accents the gearshift lever.
Automatic dual-zone climate control and six-way heated power front seats are optional. Cruise control buttons are mounted on the steering wheel, and auxiliary radio controls can be installed.
The Monte Carlo can be equipped with any of three audio systems. In addition to the base CD stereo, an uplevel CD/MP3 radio is configured for XM Satellite Radio, and an ICDX radio includes an in-dash six-CD changer and premium Bose sound system. Upgraded standard remote keyless entry now lets drivers use the panic button to locate the car. Trunk space totals 15.8 cubic feet.
General Motors' OnStar communication system is standard. A remote starter that features automatic climate pre-conditioning to warm or cool the car before getting inside is optional.
Under the Hood
The standard 3.5-liter V-6 produces 210 horsepower and 220 pounds-feet of torque. Uplevel models get a 3.9-liter V-6 rated at 240 hp and 245 pounds-feet of torque. The 5.3-liter V-8 in SS models generates an estimated 303 hp and 323 pounds-feet of torque. Each engine works with a four-speed-automatic transmission.
Seatbelt pretensioners are standard on all models, and all-disc antilock brakes are standard on all Monte Carlos but the base version. LATCH child-seat attachments go on all second-row seating positions. A tire-pressure monitor is standard on models with 17- and 18-inch wheels. Seat-mounted side-impact airbags and traction control are optional.