When it comes to family haulers, the minivan reigns supreme; it's spacious, practical, and safe. One minivan that made a short but promising run was the Pontiac Montana. Produced from 1997 to 2009, the Montana came in front-wheel drive and could seat eight passengers. This minivan received some negative attention due to safety criticisms, but was overall a reliable vehicle that won oven the hearts of many drivers. What made this ride a big hit with families was its quiet performance, smooth handling, and favorable fuel efficiency.
There were two generations of Montanas, with the second gen receiving a major revamp. General Motors (GM) discontinued the production of the Montana in the US during 2006, and in Canada and Mexico during the 2009 model year.
1997-2005: Making a mark and finding its groove
The Pontiac Montana was originally used as a trim level of the Pontiac Trans Sport van from 1997 to 1998, but GM dropped the Trans Sport name in 1999, dubbing the minivan simply as Montana. This vehicle came in both short and long-wheelbase models and was one of the few minivans that could seat eight people. It came with dual airbags and antilock brakes as standard safety features, and in 2000, all Montanas came with dual sliding doors, and all rear seats were provided with child-seater tether anchors. From 2001 to 2003, the Montana made some minor adjustments in its interior design. These changes included a shift from sport-style head restrains to conventional ones, a new steering wheel with the Pontiac logo on it, a stowable third-row bench seat, and a power left-side rear door. Minor modifications were done to the nose design as well.
2002 also saw the birth of the Montana Thunder, which came with 16" chrome 5-spoke rims, a special spoiler on the back of the roof rack, and improved handling. The interior of this vehicle also received a style upgrade with two-tone leather seating and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. This ride was produced from 2002-2003 but was offered only as an optional package on Pontiac Montana GTs from 200-2005.
2005-2009: A nip, tuck, and trip to the gym
GM made a valiant effort to rectify any short comings of its first gen Montana with its new and improve Montana SV6. This second generation vehicle came with a less aerodynamic design, almost like an SUV, as it stood taller and had a longer nose. It retained a 4-speed automatic transmission but upped its engine power with a new 200-hp 3.5 V6 engine. This ride offered most of what a family would look for in a minivan and a little bit of extra. The SV6 came with a CD/MP3 player, DVD entertainment, power locks and windows, and antilock 4-wheel disc brakes. In addition to that, it came with removable second and third-row seats and a third-row seat that was a 50/50 split bench, which could be folded flat atop the cargo bed. The SV6 was also available with second-row bucket seats, power sliding doors, and a remote starting system that works from the keyfob.