Montana is the sportiest of General Motors three front-wheel-drive minivans, and Pontiac tries to separate its version from the herd by suggesting in commercials, Maybe it really isnt a minivan.
Indeed, it is a minivan, differing from the similar Chevrolet Venture and Oldsmobile Silhouette only in exterior styling and the imaginations of Pontiacs marketing staff.
The basic design for the Montana and its siblings is the foundation for two new sport utility vehicles, the 2001 Pontiac Aztek and the 2002 Buick Rendezvous, which have unique styling and will be available with all-wheel drive.
Pontiac distinguishes the Montanas appearance from its siblings with its traditional twin-port grille and lower body cladding. A two-tone exterior with charcoal lower cladding is standard. Taupe and silver lower cladding and a monotone exterior are optional.
Montana follows the Venture in offering two sizes. The regular model has a 112-inch wheelbase and is 187 inches overall, and the extended version has a 120-inch wheelbase and is 201 inches overall. Both sizes come with standard dual sliding side doors. A power open-close feature for the passenger-side sliding door is optional.
GMs minivans offer a wide range of seating options. All models come with front buckets and standard seats for seven. The standard setup has a two-place split bench in the middle row and a three-place split bench in the rear. Optional on both sizes are two captains chairs for the middle row. An eight-passenger configuration with three removable buckets for both the middle and rear rows is available on the extended model, and six buckets are optional on the regular size.
All seats except the front buckets are removable, and the bucket seats for the middle and rear weigh 40 pounds light enough for one person to heft in or out. Maximum cargo volume is 133 cubic feet on the regular size and 156 on the extended model.
A video entertainment system with a liquid-crystal display screen that folds out of the ceiling and a VCR in the center console is optional.
Under the Hood
Montana uses the same 185-horsepower 3.4-liter V-6 and four-speed automatic transmission as the other front-drive GM minivans.
Standard safety features include side-impact airbags for the front seats and antilock brakes that operate on all four wheels. Traction control is optional.
Pontiac tries to position the Montana as something other than a minivan, but it is what it is. Montana and its GM siblings arent the quietest or most refined models in their class, but they have spunky acceleration, plenty of room and enough safety and convenience features to deserve consideration.