2007 Minivan Challenge: 2008 Pontiac Montana SV6, Week Three pontiac car comparisons
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Read more of Dave & Carolyn’s comments on the 2008 Pontiac Montana:
Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4

Read all the articles in the Minivan Challenge

Photo Gallery: 2008 Pontiac Montana


By Dave and Carolyn;
edited by Paul Williams

Week three has seen Dave and Carolyn using the 2008 Pontiac Montana SV6 mostly for a long trip, supplemented by comparatively limited city driving. Both drivers are finding it very comfortable on the road, but point out that the soft ride can compromise handling. The Montana is not as modern a vehicle as others tested by Dave and Carolyn, but is well-equipped and has a more rugged demeanor. Dave and Carolyn continue to like the Montana’s different look when compared with other family vans.

Both commented on what they perceive to be the Montana’s excessive fuel consumption. Canada’s Energuide rates the Montana SV6 at 13.1 L/100 km city and 8.5 L/100 km highway. Dave and Carolyn aren’t seeing the lower number, and are getting 11.2 L/100 km (25 mpg, Imperial) in mixed driving biased to highway. (Note that the Montana has a huge 94.6 litre fuel tank, giving owners excellent range, but large bills at the pump).

2008 Pontiac Montana SV6 – Dave’s Week Three impressions

The Montana has received several compliments from my male friends and neighbours regarding its styling – and its dark grey colour. Most of these people like its sporty, yet stylish, appearance. I have been asked several times if it is an all-wheel drive vehicle and I think this is because of its SUV-like styling features. One individual likened the Montana to his Chevrolet Avalanche, and I see what he means by this. In comparison with the Sienna, Entourage, and Odyssey, the Montana is a bit more truck-like for a minivan (especially its back half, and its interior, including its column shifter), but this is not necessarily a negative characteristic. Moreover, I am noticing that many people drive this particular model in my region. In this regard, I seem to be passing Montanas on a regular basis. This might have something to do with the fact that I live in GM territory!

2007 Minivan Challenge: 2008 Pontiac Montana SV6, Week Three pontiac car comparisons
2008 Pontiac Montana. Click image to enlarge

Apart from the Hyundai Entourage, I (we) have been critical of the rear liftgates on all of the minivans we have tested. Well, the Montana’s tailgate is a handful to use to be sure. When you open this liftgate, you must ensure that you stand back quickly because it swings open with a force that will knock over a child – literally. On a couple of occasions it almost hit me in the face. Further, it is a very heavy tailgate to close.

Unlike the Entourage, Sienna, and Odyssey, the third row seats in the Montana do not fold flat, and this results in less useable space – unless you remove the seats. This has not proved problematic for us because there is still a lot of space in this van without having to remove seats. However, my friend commented that he would have to remove the seats in this van to accommodate his wife’s power scooter. I am sure this would not be the case with the other vans we tested.

2007 Minivan Challenge: 2008 Pontiac Montana SV6, Week Three pontiac car comparisons
2008 Pontiac Montana. Click image to enlarge

However, as far as driver and passenger accommodation is concerned, I still find the front seats in this van very comfortable. The Montana is quiet and it handles rough roads very well. We have driven the Montana quite a lot lately, and, apart from its thirst for gasoline (I think it is the thirstiest of the vans we have tested), it is a nice vehicle to drive.

Unlike the other vans we tested, this van’s middle windows do not open. I suppose this could be a nuisance for passengers, although our main passenger – our baby girl, Anna – does not seem to mind. Now that it’s getting colder outside, we have had to use the heater and I must say the heating system (and defrost) in this van works very well (as does the air conditioner). I know that Carolyn wishes it was a climate control system, but there can be some advantages to a manual system (ability to generate consistent heat or cooling without automatic modulation).

All in all, things are going okay with this van. It is definitely different from the other vans we have tested. As I have alluded to in my previous comments, unlike the Entourage, Sienna, and Odyssey, the Montana is more like a “traditional” van; it could benefit from a few key features to update its functionality. I still, however, like its SUV exterior look!

2008 Pontiac Montana SV6 – Carolyn’s Week Three impressions

I had the opportunity to drive the Pontiac Montana a lot this past week and I must say that it is fairly peppy (although not as peppy as the Toyota Sienna, which seems to be the athlete in our minivan line-up). In any event, this minivan handles and corners nicely and accelerates quite quickly when I am merging onto the highway. The suspension does not feel as “tight” as some of the other minivans, but on the other hand, this makes the Montana’s ride feel much smoother at times and I like this (you feel as though you are simply gliding over bumps).

2007 Minivan Challenge: 2008 Pontiac Montana SV6, Week Three pontiac car comparisons
2008 Pontiac Montana. Click image to enlarge

The Montana is really quiet inside (no rattles) and the seats are very comfortable on long rides. I suppose some of the buttons could be better located; for example, the controls for the front driver and passenger seats are located at the bottom of the seat (by your feet) and it is almost impossible to stick your hand down there to work the switch (you almost want to open the door just to do this); Certainly more room is needed to reach down there, or else the controls could be placed higher up by the window and lock controls (which is where they were located on the Hyundai Entourage and it worked out very well). Also, the gas cap cover does not have a lock, which is a possible security issue. Speaking of fuel, the Montana is a pretty thirsty machine in my experience.

The DVD entertainment system is absolutely great; nothing more to say here except that it works well and is easy to use (much appreciated). The heating system works well although I wish it was climate controlled because I keep getting overheated and then cold, etc. I absolutely love the way the exterior lights automatically turn on when it is getting darker outside, and the way the interior lights automatically turn on at night once the engine is turned off – these are wonderful safety/convenience features.

Most of the controls inside this vehicle are pretty functional and easy enough to use. I do think, however, that greater attention to detail is needed regarding some of the features new parents might appreciate such as a conversation mirror, sunshades, more flexible storage compartments (made of flexible rather than hard materials), a power tailgate or at least one that is easier to open and close and which does not come close to knocking you over when you open it (only Wonder Woman could handle this minivan’s tailgate with ease!).

2007 Minivan Challenge: 2008 Pontiac Montana SV6, Week Three pontiac car comparisons
2008 Pontiac Montana. Click image to enlarge

Moreover, this van lacks a double glove compartment and a sunglass compartment, which were found on all of the other minivans we have tested to date.

I also want to revisit my earlier comments regarding the overall aesthetics of this minivan, including the exterior design and interior controls/dashboard, etc. Again, I want to note that this minivan has a very rugged and truck-like feel to it, which is undoubtedly appealing for some people. I am quite serious about this – I continue to catch men stealing a second look at the Pontiac Montana all the time! I have not encountered this phenomenon with any of the other minivans we have tested thus far.

On this note, I am left wondering how this minivan will appeal to individuals who prefer cars, or more car-like vehicles, over trucks. In this regard, I wonder how many people in the market for a minivan (or those who have already purchased the Montana) are aware of the differences between this minivan and the previous minivans we tested – which were much less truck-like in many dimensions. I suppose, for example, that the Pontiac Montana would be a great compromise for a couple who would have preferred a nicely appointed extended cab pickup truck, but who really need the security and interior space of a minivan.


Read more of Dave & Carolyn’s comments on the 2008 Pontiac Montana:
Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4
Read all the articles in the Minivan Challenge

Photo Gallery: 2008 Pontiac Montana




About Paul Williams

Paul Williams is an Ottawa-based freelance automotive writer and senior writer for Autos. He is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC).