Despite the Monte Carlo's NASCAR racing heritage, recent versions of the midsize coupe haven't been produced with V-8 engines. But that changed for the 2006 model year, as the reworked Monte Carlo received a small-block V-8 for its SS edition. The 2007 Monte Carlo loses its LTZ trim level and 3.9-liter V-6. What remain are the V-8 SS as well as the base LS and midlevel LT, both powered by a 3.5-liter V-6 that's now compatible with E85 fuel. Other major additions include a rally stripe package for the SS and an optional turn-by-turn navigation service with GM's OnStar communication system.
Introduced at the 2005 Greater Los Angeles Auto Show, the Monte Carlo gained revised suspension systems and a greater track width for 2006. Chevrolet's related Impala sedan received similar modifications, including the V-8 option. The V-8 includes a gas-saving cylinder deactivation feature that shuts down four cylinders under low-load conditions.
The Monte Carlo has large headlights that contain three independent lighting units. 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, and optional rally stripes suggest its racing heritage.
The Monte Carlo LS receives 16-inch wheels and a soft-riding suspension. The LT upgrades to 17-inch wheels, and the SS receives 18-inchers and a firmer suspension.
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.
Manual dual-zone climate control, a six-way power driver's seat and heated front seats are optional. Cruise control buttons are mounted on the steering wheel, and auxiliary radio controls can be installed. Unfortunately, features like automatic climate control and a power passenger seat — which was installed in some versions of the previous Monte Carlo — are now unavailable.
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. At the top end, the radio includes an in-dash six-CD changer and premium Bose sound system. Trunk space totals 15.8 cubic feet.
General Motors' OnStar communication system is standard; a new Directions and Connections upgrade allows turn-by-turn directions. An optional remote starter allows owners to warm or cool the car before getting inside.
Under the Hood
The standard 3.5-liter V-6 produces 211 horsepower and 214 pounds-feet of torque. For 2007, this engine can be configured for compatibility with both regular gasoline and E85 fuel. Last year's 240-hp, 3.9-liter V-6 has been discontinued, though it's still available in the Impala. The 5.3-liter V-8 in SS models generates 303 hp and 323 pounds-feet of torque. It also receives a cylinder-deactivation feature that cuts fuel delivery to four cylinders under lighter loads, such as highway coasting. Chevrolet says this system promises gas mileage gains of up to 12 percent.
All engines work with a four-speed automatic transmission.
Seatbelt pretensioners are standard on all models, and all-disc antilock brakes are installed in the Monte Carlo LT and SS. LATCH child-seat attachments go on all second-row seating positions. A tire pressure monitoring system is standard. Seat-mounted side-impact airbags and traction control are optional. Unfortunately, an electronic stability system and side curtain airbags — both widely available among the Monte Carlo's competitors — are not on tap.