NEW FOR 2008:

– Standard tire pressure monitoring system
– Stability and traction control standard on regular-wheelbase models
– E85 FlexFuel engine available on regular-wheelbase models
– Exterior colour: Dark Slate Metallic

Although its demise seemed imminent, General Motors has continued its Pontiac Montana SV6 minivan into 2008, along with sister vehicle Chevrolet Uplander. The Buick Terraza and Saturn Relay clones have been discontinued.

Available only in Canada, the Montana SV6 is powered by a 3.9-litre V6, mated to a four-speed automatic transmission. A FlexFuel version, capable of running on E85 ethanol fuel, can be optioned on all models. The Montana SV6 comes in three trim lines, all of them available in regular- or extended-wheelbase configuration; they have been renamed 1SA, 1SB and 1SC from 2007’s "Uplevel" names.

Features on the 1SA include 17-inch steel wheels, air conditioning, power locks with keyless entry, automatic headlights, deep-tinted rear glass, variable intermittent wipers, fixed intermittent rear wiper, floor mats, tilt wheel, power windows, power swing-out rear quarter windows, CD/MP3 stereo and OnStar. The extended-wheelbase model adds removable rear cargo organizer and overhead rail storage system.

The 1SB adds black roof rack side rails, overhead rail storage system, cruise control, and driver information centre.

The 1SC adds 17-inch aluminum wheels, front-row seat side airbags, remote starter, leather-wrapped wheel with audio controls, illuminated vanity mirrors, six-way power driver’s seat and XM Satellite Radio. The extended-wheelbase model adds brushed aluminum roof rack side rails and rear air conditioning.

Depending on the model, available options include second-row seat side airbags, sport suspension with automatic rear level control, towing package, rear parking assist, power sliding doors, heated leather seats, navigation system and rear-seat DVD entertainment system.

With the redesign of Chrysler’s minivans, the Montana SV6 and Chevrolet Uplander are now the only models available in short-wheelbase configuration, which may prove popular with buyers who like the convenience of a minivan but don’t require that much interior space.

Handling is more car-like than most typical minivans, and the short nose is more mindful of an SUV. The 3.9-litre is powerful enough even when the vehicle is loaded, and buyers with access to E85 ethanol fuel can opt for a FlexFuel engine. If you’re shopping it against the Uplander, do your homework: while the two models are identical mechanically, their standard and optional features vary.

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