The biggest coupe on the market under $30,000, the 2000
Chevrolet Monte Carlo is based on the recently-introduced Chevrolet Impala
sedan. Monte Carlo LS models have a 180 horsepower 3.4 litre V6 engine and
standard 4-speed automatic transmission, while top-of-the-line SS models
have a 200 horsepower 3.8 litre V6 engine. The Monte Carlo offers a
surprisingly satisfying blend of performance and comfort at a base price of
just under $26,000.
Expected comfort, unexpected performance
Most sporty coupes are small, lightweight, two-door coupes or hatchbacks
with a cramped rear seat. The 2000 Chevrolet Monte Carlo, on the other hand,
is the biggest, heaviest, roomiest, and most powerful two-door coupe
available under $30,000.
And while sporty coupes often appeal to younger, single buyers who want
something small, cheap and sporty, the mid-size Monte Carlo appeals to more
mature buyers who want a roomy interior, a smooth ride, and a quiet cabin.
Unfortunately for the Monte Carlo, most of these latter buyers also want
four doors. The market for big two-door coupes has been declining for a
number of years, and the Monte Carlo is one of the last big coupes on the
So why did GM hold onto the Monte Carlo for 2000? Perhaps because for those
who do want a big, reasonably-priced two-door coupe, there’s really only one
choice now: the Monte Carlo.
Monte Carlo Based on Impala
The 2000 Monte Carlo shares the same platform, suspension, brakes and
engines with the recently-introduced Chevrolet Impala four-door sedan –
which itself was an extensively-redesigned version of the 1999 Lumina – upon
which the previous 1999 Monte Carlo was based…
The 2000 Monte Carlo LS has a 180 horsepower 3.4 litre OHV V6 engine,
replacing the 160 horsepower 3.1 litre V6 of the previous Monte Carlo. The
sportier Monte Carlo SS has a 200 horsepower 3.8 litre V6, the same engine
in the 1999 Monte Carlo Z34.
For 2000, traction control is now included with the 3.8 litre engine. This
is a ‘full-function’ traction control system which works at any speed to
prevent wheelspin in slippery conditions by temporarily cutting back on the
throttle and applying the brakes.
Both 2000 LS and SS Monte Carlo’s have standard four-wheel-disc brakes with
ABS – previously, LS models had standard front disc/rear drum brakes. In
addition, the new disc brakes are bigger and more powerful than last year’s
disc brakes, purportedly the same brakes specified for police car use. GM
claims they have the largest rotors and calipers available in a mid-sized
As well, all 2000 Monte Carlo’s include a new tire inflation monitor which
alerts the driver via a warning light if a tire is losing air pressure. The
system uses ABS sensors to detect when one wheel is rotating more slowly
than the other wheels.
Longer Wheelbase, More Interior Room
The new Monte Carlo is roomier than the previous model even though it’s
about the same length and width. That’s because its wheelbase is 77 mm
longer and its roof is 35 mm taller. This creates a larger cabin with more
headroom and legroom for the two front passengers and three rear passengers.
I found the front seats to be wide and comfy with good lateral support. On a
one-day driving trip, I spent more than ten hours in the car as both driver
and passenger. To my surprise, I did not experience any back stiffness or
discomfort when I stepped out.
The Monte Carlo LS’ interior includes two large cloth-covered bucket seats,
a centre console with floor shifter, large round speedometer, tachometer and
smaller auxillary gauges, standard AM/FM/CD stereo, rotary dials for the
heater and air conditioning, an ignition switch on the dashboard to the
right of the steering wheel, and a centre armrest with a roomy storage
Monte Carlo SS models add upgraded cloth upholstery, separate
driver/passenger temperature controls, leather-covered steering wheel and
shifter, power driver’s seat, seat heaters, and stereo/cruise control
buttons on the steering wheel.
I wasn’t partial to the monotone, black interior colour of my test car. In
my opinion, some woodgrain trim or alternate-coloured dash material is
needed to break up the monotony.
A more serious complaint is about access to the rear seat. The front
passenger seat does not automatically slide forwards when the seatback is
folded, and a seatbelt strap which extends from the B pillar to the front
seat impedes entry and exit.
In addition, the long, heavy front doors are difficult to open in a crowded
parking lot. For such a large coupe, I found that getting into the rear seat
was unusually difficult.
For a coupe, the Monte Carlo has a large trunk, a very roomy 447 litres
(15.8 cubic feet). Split folding rear seatbacks provide a pass-through from
the trunk for longer items.
Performance Better Than Expected
I admit, I was biased against big, front-wheel-drive coupes when I first
stepped into my Monte Carlo SS test car. “How can a big coupe be sporty?” I
thought to myself. Isn’t this just a glorified Impala with a few fender
bulges and two very long doors?
Having previously driven the Impala sedan, I knew that the Monte Carlo was
likely to have a comfortable ride, a quiet, powerful powertrain, good
brakes, and a roomy interior – which it does.
What I didn’t expect was its relatively balanced handling, minimal nose-dive
when braking, and quick, accurate steering. I found the Monte Carlo SS to be
surprisingly stable during hard cornering, and very neutral for a large,
front-wheel-drive coupe. The Monte Carlo can be thrown into tight corners
without excessive lean or tire squeal, and can be braked from high speeds
without any disconcerting nose-dive and suspension wallowing.
The Monte Carlo’s competent handling is due in part to its fully independent
suspension: front MacPherson struts with separate coil springs and
stabilizer bar, and rear MacPherson struts with separate coil springs and
stabilizer bar. SS models have stiffer shocks and stickier ‘H’-rated
Goodyear Eagle RS-A P225/60R-16 inch radials than standard LS models.
The 200 horsepower 3.8 litre OHV V6 engine has lots of torque. It’s quick
off the line, and pulls away cleanly at slow and mid-range speeds. It’s
really quiet and smooth at highway speeds where it does just 1900 rpm at a
constant 100 km/h. And unlike some big engines, it uses regular unleaded
I have been test-driving various GM cars with variations of this engine for
the past decade, and have always been impressed by how smooth and powerful
It’s worth noting too that no other coupe on the market (under $30,000)
offers such a large displacement V6 engine.
All In for Under $30,000
If you compare the Monte Carlo to its smaller, less powerful coupe
competitors, you’ll find that it offers more room, more features and more
horsepower for about the same price.
Standard equipment on Monte Carlo LS models, which start at $25,895,
includes a 180 horsepower 3.4 litre V6 engine with starter ‘grind
protection’ and engine block heater, 4-speed automatic transmission,
P225/60R-16 inch tires, a fully independent suspension with MacPherson
struts at each corner, power steering, disc brakes at all four wheels with
ABS, tire inflation monitor, and battery run-down protection.
Standard interior features on LS models include air conditioning, AM/FM/CD
stereo with six speakers and speed-compensated volume, power windows with
‘express-down’ driver’s window, power door locks, power mirrors, variable
intermittent wipers, tilt steering wheel, split folding rear seatbacks and
centre rear armrest.
Uplevel Monte Carlo SS models which start at $28,595, have a 200 horsepower
OHV V6 engine, ‘H’-rated Goodyear Eagle RS-A P225/60R-16 inch radials,
standard five-spoke alloy wheels, rear spoiler, a slightly stiffer
suspension, full-function traction control, front fog lights, and dual
Inside the SS is a leather-wrapped steering wheel and floor shift knob,
dual-zone temperature controls, pollen/dust filters in the ventilation
system, steering wheel-mounted radio and cruise controls, 6-way power
driver’s seat, custom cloth seating fabric, day/night rearview mirror with
built-in reading lights, oil temperature and voltmeter gauges.
My Overall Impressions
After I cast aside my built-in bias towards big, domestic coupes, I found
that the new Monte Carlo was a competent performance coupe with the added
bonus of a roomy interior and a big trunk – a good compromise between
comfort and performance.