An extended-wheelbase Special Value model joins the lineup of Pontiacs front-wheel-drive (FWD) Montana minivan for 2003. Regular and extended Special Value versions feature a 60/40-split, folding second-row bench seat with an integrated child-safety seat. Equipment groups have been eliminated, so customers can choose options individually.
Built from the same design as the Chevrolet Venture and Oldsmobile Silhouette, the Montana has a sportier appearance than its GM mates. All three date back to 1990 and were redesigned for 1997.
Pontiacs minivan used to be FWD only, but Versatrak all-wheel drive (AWD) became available on 2002 models. The Montana may also be equipped with an optional DVD-based entertainment system. Buyers can dress up the extended-wheelbase minivan with a Thunder Sport appearance Package that includes a rear spoiler, 16-inch chrome wheels, a two-tone leather interior and a fully independent suspension.
Regular-length Montanas have a 112-inch wheelbase, measure 187.3 inches long overall and stand 67.4 inches tall. Extended-length models stretch to nearly 201 inches long overall.
All Montanas have a luggage rack and dual sliding side doors. A power-operated passenger-side door is optional, while one for the drivers side is available on upper-end models. An optional Sport Performance & Handling Package includes a sport-tuned suspension with a rear load-leveling feature.
Regular-length Montanas can seat up to seven occupants, while extended models can hold as many as eight. Bucket seats go up front, and the second row of a regular-length Montana may be equipped with bucket seats or captains chairs. A folding three-passenger bench seat can be installed in the third row.
Extended-length models may have captains chairs and a rear bench to seat seven occupants, or they may be equipped with front buckets and two bench seats to accommodate eight people. Extended models can have a stowable third-row seat with a floor-mounted convenience center. Cargo capacity is 140.7 cubic feet for the extended version.
Standard equipment includes a CD player, power windows and door locks, and remote keyless entry. Ultrasonic rear parking assist, which is optional for extended-length models, warns if you get too close to an obstacle to the rear while backing up. GMs OnStar communication system is available, and the optional MontanaVision DVD-based entertainment features a fold-down 7-inch screen.
Under the Hood
Like its cousins from Chevrolet and Oldsmobile, the Montana uses a 185-horsepower, 3.4-liter V-6 engine and a four-speed-automatic transmission. Versatrak AWD is offered only on extended-length Montanas.
Side-impact airbags for the front seats provide head and chest protection. Antilock brakes and puncture-sealing tires are standard. Traction control is available in the Sport Performance & Handling Package.
Because their powertrains are identical, the Montana driving experience isnt markedly different from that of the Venture or Silhouette. Even though the presence of Versatrak AWD isnt evident in ordinary driving, it gives a feeling of added confidence. An AWD Montana rides comfortably, handles capably and is at least on par with most rivals.
The Montanas performance is a strong point, as GMs solid powertrain functions with impressive competence. Each GM minivan is energetic when starting from a standstill, and this one can pass and merge effectively.
None of GMs minivans stand ahead of the competition, but because differences tend to be slight, theyre worth a test drive.