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Kelley Blue Book ® - 2003 Chevrolet Monte Carlo Overview

Vehicle Overview from Kelley Blue Book

KBB.com 2003 Chevrolet Monte Carlo Overview

Last of the Chevy Super Coupes

With the demise of the Camaro, the role of the powerful performance 2+2 coupe is passed onto the Monte Carlo; it's a tall order to fill considering the Monte Carlo has neither the blistering V8 power nor the rear-wheel drive for which the Camaro was renowned. On the other hand, the Monte Carlo has outlived most of its domestic rivals, including the Cutlass, Charger and Gran Torino. With little in the way of competition, the Monte Carlo should have no problem finding buyers who want a good-sized personal sports coupe that offers both performance and comfort.

The Monte Carlo line has been simplified for 2003. 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 continues with little change, except for a few new exterior color choices. XM satellite radio is optional this year on both the Monte Carlo LS and SS models.

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. A larger 3.8-liter V6 good for 200 horsepower gives the big Chevy coupe a little more punch off the line—not to mention delivering a much more menacing sound at the tailpipes. 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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