2008 Pontiac Montana
Click image to enlarge

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

After a month behind the wheel of the 2008 Pontiac Montana SV6, Dave and Carolyn have mixed feelings about this vehicle. They agree that the Montana feels solid and well-built and that it drives and stops smoothly. They’re split on the looks: Dave likes the SUV-type styling; Carolyn not so much. But they both feel the Montana would benefit from updating the interior styling and functionality. It’s in this latter area – interior refinement – that Dave and Carolyn feel the Montana is a let-down. In their view, the interior seems to have been engineered quite a while ago, and hasn’t really kept pace with the times. Competitors have moved on, according to Dave and Carolyn, with flexible seat management, more convenient storage locations and options, more pleasing interior fabrics and surfaces, and in general, a more car-like (versus truck) look and feel.

The Pontiac Montana (and its twin the Chevrolet Uplander) are now the only family vans that can be purchased with a short wheelbase, so consumers are effectively down to a choice of one if they want a new, short wheelbase, van. The extended wheelbase Montana tested by Dave and Carolyn is the standard size for vans now, however, and the Montana’s and Uplander’s standard features, along with their brand familiarity are producing strong sales for both vehicles. – Senior Editor, Paul Williams

2008 Pontiac Montana SV6 – Dave’s final comments

As I write my final comments about the Montana I am surprised by the degree of ambivalence I am experiencing regarding this minivan (I realize I felt this way regarding the Mazda5 too).

As noted previously, I like the rugged, sporty, SUV-like look of the Montana. Moreover, I have been impressed positively by its acceleration, braking, and smooth, comfortable ride (but not by its tendency to “swing” side-to-side when traversing speed bumps or turning into a driveway, or its defenselessness against strong side winds), and by its many options including satellite radio, On-Star system, DVD system, comfortable power seats, and rear sensors.

2008 Pontiac Montana
2008 Pontiac Montana. Click image to enlarge

This van is uncomplicated, and fairly easy to operate (apart from the switches to operate the power seats). However, the Montana is clearly missing many features that were found on all three of the non-domestic minivans we have tested as part of this minivan challenge. For example, the third row seats do not fold flat into the floor, the middle windows are fixed, and there is only one (versus two) large glove compartments in this van. The Montana has fewer “useful” storage compartments overall, including not having a separate compartment for sunglasses, it is devoid of a conversation mirror, and the front passenger seat does not fold flat. This van does not have any hooks to hang things on (e.g., my sports jacket), and it does not have straps or handles to assist one getting in or out of it. I was quite surprised to learn that this van does not have a locking gas cap cover.

2008 Pontiac Montana
2008 Pontiac Montana. Click image to enlarge

The Montana’s interior is very truck-like in appearance, whereas the other three minivans we tested were appointed with car-like interiors. Even the Toyota Sienna’s interior, which I described as “Plain Jane,” is much more refined than the Montana’s interior.

The Montana is obviously a hit in my region, judging by how many times I pass people driving this particular model; it obviously has a loyal following. But I liken this following to the way some people listen exclusively to classic rock radio stations – those stations that “refuse” to play modern rock and roll music. Granted, it’s enjoyable to listen to the classis rock hits; but, by restricting oneself to this music alone, one misses out on a lot of cutting edge, and very enjoyable, new music. I think that with a few new songs thrown into the mix, the Montana would be a much improved vehicle.

2008 Pontiac Montana SV6 � Carolyn�s final comments

Here are some of the features that I especially like about the Pontiac Montana:

  • Very nice looking exterior charcoal colour; many of my family & friends commented on how much they liked the colour of this minivan;
  • This minivan is very nice to drive because it is fairly peppy and handles quite well; it also offers a very quiet (no rattles) and smooth ride which is great when you are driving over a rough road and your baby is sleeping;
  • The On-Star and satellite radio and DVD entertainment system are excellent features;
  • I really like the back-up sensors and the way that the exterior lights automatically come on when it starts getting dark outside; both of these are very good safety and convenience features;
  • The seats are VERY comfortable;
  • The many cup holders and large glove compartment (albeit only one glove compartment and not two like the other minivans we have tested so far) – there is definitely lots of space in this minivan!
  • I found it very easy to get my baby in and out of this minivan because there was a lot of extra room in the second row. I also liked the console in the second row because it had extra space/cup holders;
  • I found the interior of this minivan very functional. Except for the power seat controls which are located in a very difficult to reach place (see Week 3 comments), the controls were easy to use and they were located appropriately;
  • The customer service we received was excellent. For example, this minivan was delivered directly to our home and we were given an overview of its many options (this was also the case for the Hyundai Entourage). Also, I received good customer service when I experienced a flat tire and had to have it repaired. Finally, this minivan came with a safety harness for our dog Laila which we have had the opportunity to use several times and it has worked out very well – thanks!

    2008 Pontiac Montana
    2008 Pontiac Montana. Click image to enlarge

    Here are some of the features that I find less appealing about the Pontiac Montana:

  • This minivan needs a conversation mirror, climate controlled heating and air conditioning, a hook to hang your clothing on when you it up from the dry cleaners, and the front row passenger seat should fold down so that I can change my baby’s diaper (this is a feature that our Kia offers and I love it);
  • The tailgate is much too heavy and awkward to handle. I also was afraid of accidentally shutting it on one of Laila’s (my dog) paws;
  • The “check back/front tire pressure” sensor is too sensitive and comes on too much. I found myself always having to stop in the morning to put air in the tires and this was very annoying when I was trying to get my daughter to daycare and myself to work on time! The front passenger air bag sensor kept flashing on and off as well, although I am not sure why this was happening;
  • The dashboard needs a bit of work to spruce it up a bit and to make it less truck-like in appearance (I am not a big fan of the truck-like look); but keep the red lights on the dashboard because they look great at night;
    2008 Pontiac Montana
    2008 Pontiac Montana. Click image to enlarge
  • While there are lots of storage spaces in this minivan, these are made of very hard plastic materials which are not malleable at all. As such, I often found myself trying to stick things into places where they just would not fit;
  • I was also surprised to note that this minivan does not have a locking gas gap – something that all of the other minivans we have tested had;
  • It seemed to me that this minivan used a bit more fuel than the other minivans we have tested so far;
  • One thing which I found annoying was how you have to really push the side power door handles forward to activate them; a gentle push is just not enough in this minivan;
  • I suppose in the end I must say that this minivan was more rugged and truck-like in appearance than I like. Also, I must say that this minivan could benefit by including a few additional features which I think are key to the appeal of minivans;

    In my opinion, minivans are truly family vehicles (they are not only about extra cargo space!) and so they should come with family friendly features (e.g., conversation mirrors, folding seats, flexible storage compartments, lightweight tailgates, etc) and this minivan was lacking in some of these key features.

    Dave and Carolyn’s evaluation of the 2008 Pontiac Montana

    (Each item is rated on a scale of one to five. Maximum score: 100)

    Item Dave Carolyn
    Exterior Design 3.5 4
    Ease of Entry/Exit 4 3.5
    Ride 4.5 4
    Engine/Transmission 4 4
    Ease of Operation 4 4
    Visibility from Driver’s Seat 4 3.75
    Comfortable Driving Position 4 4
    Interior Ergonomics 3.5 3.5
    Quality of Materials 3.5 3.5
    Interior Design 3 2.5
    Interior Functionality 3.5 3
    Build Quality (rattles, etc.) 4 3.75
    Entertainment System 4.5 4
    Night Driving 5 4
    Braking 4 4
    Acceleration 4.5 4
    Cornering 4.25 3.5
    Stability 3.5 3.5
    Fuel Economy 3 3
    Overall Appeal 3.75 3
    Total 78 72.5

    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

  • Connect with Autos.ca