Pontiac has a brand-new Montana SV6 "crossover" sport van for the 2005 model year. It will be one of three new General Motors vans, which include the Chevrolet Uplander and Saturn Relay.
Meanwhile, the previous-generation Montana minivan remains on sale temporarily, but only in front-wheel-drive form with an extended-length wheelbase.
The Montana has a sportier appearance than the Chevrolet Venture and departed Oldsmobile Silhouette, though all three GM minivans were built from the same design. Montanas can hold either seven or eight occupants. XM Satellite Radio, a CD/MP3 radio, DVD-based video entertainment and GM's OnStar communication system are optional.
Other than the availability of two new body colors, Sedona Beige Metallic and Dark Blue Metallic, the Montana's appearance hasn't changed for 2005. Lower-body cladding and a Pontiac-style grille on the Montana distinguish it from the similar Chevrolet Venture.
Standing 68.2 inches tall, extended-length Montanas stretch to nearly 201 inches long overall and have a 121-inch wheelbase. All Montanas have a luggage rack, dual sliding side doors and 15-inch tires.
Standard Montanas can seat up to seven occupants, but they can be set up to hold as many as eight. Bucket seats are installed up front, and the second row can be fitted with three bucket seats or a pair of captain's chairs. A folding three-passenger bench goes in the third row. Maximum cargo capacity is 141 cubic feet, and the Montana has 37.3 cubic feet of space behind the third seat.
OnStar is available, and the optional MontanaVision DVD-based entertainment system features a fold-down 7-inch screen. Other entertainment options include a CD/MP3 radio, an audio system with Radio Data System technology, steering-wheel radio controls and a six-CD changer.
Under the Hood
Like the Venture, the Montana uses a 185-horsepower, 3.4-liter V-6 that develops 210 pounds-feet of torque. It works with a four-speed-automatic transmission.
Side-impact airbags for the front seats are available. Antilock brakes are standard on higher-end models and optional on the base minivan. LATCH anchors for child-safety seats and dual-stage front airbags are standard.
Because their powertrains are identical, the driving experience in the Montana and Venture is fairly similar. The Montana rides comfortably, handles capably and is at least on par with most rivals.
Performance is a strong point, as GM's solid powertrain functions with impressive competence. The Montana is energetic when starting from a standstill, and it can pass and merge effectively. None of GM's minivans stand above the competition, and they trail newer and recently updated designs in overall appeal.
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