Chevrolet Motor Division doesn’t mind putting a new spin on an old name — like the 1995 Monte Carlo.
The Monte Carlo evokes some found memories among Chevrolet owners. The model was produced from 1970 into mid-1988, and then was dropped amid much protest from devotees.
The car’s revival, clothed in new sheet metal and technology, should soothe those who felt deprived of an old friend. The new Monte is a far better-looking automobile and is designed to provide smoother and more comfortable motoring.
The 1995 Monte Carlo comes in two offerings, an LS that functions as a moderately priced, comfort and convenience-oriented touring sports coupe. Then there’s the Z34 with a little more muscle, courtesy of a four-cam, 24-valve V6.
Of course, you can’t beat the adage that “speed costs money.” A Z34 with its high-tech dual overhead cam engine and some other upgrades costs about $2,000 more than an LS.
The 1990s are a much different era than the muscle-car days of the 1970s. As a consequence, Chevrolet tailors its new Monte Carlo to fit a different standard of buyers. The majority still want a sporting flavor, but with a more silken approach.
The LS configuration that General Motors’ Terri Phillips provided for a test car conformed more to a user-friendly image than a NASCAR stocker detuned a little for the street.
The all-new interior was spacious for driver and passenger, a little less so for those in the back. But then that’s pretty much standard for sports coupes.
The rear will accommodate three people if necessary. But the seats are dished out for two, and that’s the number recommended for any sort of comfort.
The car was remarkably quiet, both at idle and at highway speeds. Chevy’s engineers have done an excellent job of deadening sound via thicker glass and noise- absorbing materials in the firewall, A pillars, roof and rocker panels.
The LS at speed isn’t quite as quiet as the proverbial bank vault, but it comes pretty close. The exterior’s aerodynamic form enhances air flow over the body with minimum turbulence.
The cockpit features two comfortable and supportive bucket seats separated by a console that holds the automatic transmission shift lever. There were cupholders and a storage bin, and all controls were within easy reach.
The car sits well. The individual front seats were broad enough so they didn’t induce that body-gripping effect that produces fatigue on long trips. Yet there was good lateral support through fast corners.
In addition, entrance and exit were enhanced through the use of leather. It’s a $600 option, but one worth considering.
The cockpit is such that Chevy drivers, or drivers of about anything else, can jump right in and feel right at home. There really was no learning period to accustom a first-time 1995 Monte Carlo driver with where everything was located.
The car’s 3.1-liter (191 cubic inches) engine is well proven and designed to run forever. However, it’s just a touch lazy coming off the l ine.
I wouldn’t have minded a little bigger engine without going to the more expensive 3.4-liter (207 cubic inch) 24-valve V6. Once the mass weight of the car was under way, acceleration for passing was pretty good.
Unfortunately, the 3.4 with its four overhead cams and four valves per cylinder isn’t available as an option for the LS model. You have to go to a Z34 to get that engine.
Unlike the Monte Carlos of old, this new one is front-drive. That, in essence, dictates four-wheel independent suspension and a spring rate that lies just about dead center between fast and slow.
The ride leaned toward the firm side without being harsh. And that’s a tribute to Chevy’s suspension engineers since the test car was equipped with optional 16-inch aluminum wheels and some wide 16-inch rubber.
The tires got a great grip on the pavement for maximum traction. But they also got a great gripwhen going slow, causing a rise in the power-steering effort when maneuvering in a parking lot.
Asi de from a rattle in the undercarriage that seemed to come and go, overall quality got pretty good marks.
The 1995 Monte Carlo isn’t your father’s 1970 Monte with a 454 V8. But it’s been reincarnated to a high standard, and will successfully return a much- respected nameplate to the Chevrolet lineup.
1995 Chevrolet Monte Carlo LS Base price: $16,770. As tested: $19,277.Type: Front-engine, front-drive, five-passenger sports coupe.Engine: 3.1 liters, OHV V6, 12 valves, fuel-injected, 160 horsepower, 185 foot-pounds of torque.Transmission: Four-speed automatic.Mileage: 19 mpg city/29 mpg highway.Acceleration: 0-60 mph in 9.0 seconds.Wheelbase: 107.5 inches.Length: 200.7 inches.Width: 72.5 inches.Height: 53.8 inches.Curb weight: 3,306.Options: AM/FM stereo with cassette, LS preferred equipment group, leather seats, rear defogger, six-way power seat, 16-inch aluminum wheels, P225/60 R16 tires.