Vehicle Overview from Kelley Blue Book
KBB.com 2004 Chevrolet Monte Carlo Overview
|Two Doors, Three Seats, Loads of Fun|
For a while, it looked as though the Monte Carlo was going to be the last of its kind. Big, two door coupes with powerful engines and seating for five are not exactly a dime a dozen anymore; factor in a price tag of less than $24,000 and the list grows even smaller. But the auto industry is a fickle thing, and just when you think you've got it pinned, everything changes. The Monte Carlo now faces stiff competition from such makes as the new Toyota Solara, the Dodge Stratus and Chrysler Sebring and the Pontiac GTO. To keep pace, Chevrolet has freshened the Monte Carlo line with more standard features, more powerful engines and a revised interior.
For 2004, the LS model receives a 16-inch wheel and tire package and keyless entry is now standard. An optional Sport Package for the LS adds a set of 5-spoke aluminum wheels, color-keyed ground effects and a rear spoiler. The performance-oriented SS model gets a new exterior package with 17-inch diamond-cut cast aluminum wheels, rear spoiler, chrome exhaust tips and front fog lights.
Take a walk around the Monte Carlo and you'll notice that it really doesn't look like anything else on the road. Its long hood and short rear deck mimic the proportions of a classic '70s sport coupe while its curvaceous body and aerodynamic front end are definitely the products of modern computer and wind tunnel design. You'll also probably wonder about the odd shape of the front headlights, with their bulging centers and tapered ends. Now look again, tilt your head and squint your eyes a bit. Do you see it? The headlights form the shape of the Chevy badge logo, only the angular edges have been rounded off; the tail lamps also have meaning, having been inspired by Monte Carlos from the '70s and '80s. With all the attention to aerodynamics, its no wonder the Monte Carlo is the most successful NASCAR Winston Cup racer. Of course, we know you're not going to be doing laps in the local hardware store parking lot, but for those times when the road beckons, its nice to know you have a car that's not afraid to accept the call.
Getting behind the wheel of the Monte Carlo LS reveals a very balanced car with good road manners and a willing engine. The LS comes standard with a 3.4-liter V6 engine that churns out a healthy 180 horsepower. The LS engine and suspension are tuned more for cruising than bruising, and given that this is how the vast majority of people drive, the Monte Carlo LS will probably more than exceed the expectations of its owners. The interior appointments are pure Chevy, simple and clean, without additional tacked on trim or overly complicated mechanized cup holders. The dash is well organized with a compliment of full analog instrumentation including tachometer, fuel and temperature gauge; SS models get additional gauges for oil pressure and volts. Though it is a squeeze to get into the rear seats, they can accommodate up to three adults in relative comfort, a claim the Camaro could never make.
A step up to the SS model unleashes the true performance abilities of the Monte Carlo platform. Two versions of the SS model are now available: the SS and SS Supercharged. The SS model is pretty sporty in and of itself, with a 3.8-liter V6, good for 200 horsepower, giving the Monte Carlo a little more punch off the line. The real menace is the SS Supercharged that sees horsepower jump to 240. With this powerplant under its hood, the Monte Carlo can merge with complete confidence, outrunning most V6s and even some V8s.
The SS package includes thicker front and rear anti-sway bars, heavier shocks and wider tires. The package works well and allows you to really push the Monte Carlo to some pretty extreme limits before its front-wheel-drive layout begins to exhibit signs of plowing. One can't help but wonder how much further you could push the Monte Carlo if-like its ancestors-it were a rear-wheel drive. While you're playing in the SS, you'll appreciate that Chevy upgraded the front bucket seats to include more lateral and lower thigh bolstering and includes a large center console between them.
In keeping with the times, Chevrolet has outfitted the Monte Carlo with a long list of standard creature comforts that its '70s forebearers never dreamed of. LS models feature airbags, dual-zone climate control, overhead console, rear defroster, power windows, power door locks, tilt wheel and an on-board message center. SS models have all these features plus side-impact airbags, cruise control, electrochromatic auto-dimming rear view mirror and illuminated vanity mirrors. Another note, the LS model can be ordered with the larger 3.8-liter engine, creating what was known in the good old days as a "sleeper."
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