After a big, comfortable and upscale coupe? Don’t want to spend an arm and a leg? Looking for sizing like a sedan but the expressive and personal appeal of a two-door?
If so, the Chevrolet Monte Carlo might be right for you.
Sure — it’s no G35 or 3-Series, but the Monte Carlo’s last generation was popular with shoppers after a sporty and comfortable cruiser that wouldn’t break the bank.
Thanks to good ‘ole American car resale values, you can probably find one for a steal, too.
This front-drive coupe was available in several trim levels and with several engines, as well as a variety of commemorative and special editions. Finding a Monte Carlo that suits your fancy shouldn’t pose a problem.
Under the hood, look for a 3.4 litre, 180-horsepower V6. Due to well-documented problems with coolant and head-gaskets, this engine is best avoided.
The recommended engine for a used shopper is GM’s staple ‘3800’ 3.8 litre V6 with about 200 horsepower. A supercharged variant was available with 240. All models got a four-speed automatic transmission and drove the front wheels.
Look for options including side airbags, tire pressure monitoring, traction control, OnStar and satellite radio — depending on the model in question.
What Owners Like
Monte Carlo owners typically love their machines. Power, styling, mileage and stability in winter driving are all praised. Ditto the powerful brakes, high-end audio system and spacious, user-friendly interior.
What Owners Hate
Typical gripe points include difficult rear-seat access, limited headroom, and many low-budget interior parts.
Considering a used Monte Carlo?
Think durability. Owners report peeling and fading dash plastics, controls that ‘rub’ off with use and premature brake and tire wear. Scrutinize the Monte Carlo’s interior and consumable parts for signs of excessive wear.
Ensure proper operation of the used Monte Carlo’s air conditioning as well. It should blow icy cold within in a few seconds.
Any model should be given a mechanical going-over by a GM-trained mechanic. If you find a fantastic deal on a model with the 3.4 litre engine, be absolutely certain to have it checked for signs of head-gasket failure.
Your nearest GM dealer should be familiar with the trouble signs.
Opting for the larger 3.8 litre engine? Other than a potential intake manifold gasket problem, it can likely be expected to be trouble free.
Same deal for the automatic transmission. Though they appear to be fairly un-problematic, several owners have reported hard shifting as the beginning of potential transmission issues which seem hard to diagnose.
Find a good deal on a well-maintained used Monte Carlo, and you’ll likely enjoy an affordable, comfortable and stylish coupe for years to come.