Chevrolet Monte Carlo LS
Arriving slightly ahead of the front-drive Impala was a redesigned 2000 Monte Carlo with the same platform, powertrains, general size, and features. The base model was again tagged LS, but the sporty Z34 was retitled SS and given a standard 200-bhp 3800 V-6.
Further emphasizing high value, Chevy gave both models standard four-wheel antilock disc brakes, air conditioning, and a tire-pressure monitor. The SS added firmer suspension, performance tires, and larger alloy wheels.
Styling was more elaborate, with curved upper-body character lines intended to evoke 1973-77 Montes, though it's doubtful many younger folks made the connection. Enthusiasts still didn't much connect with the performance or handling, though both were more than acceptable. Indeed, Consumer Guide® said the "SS shines on twisty roads" and found its ride "compliant enough on bumpy city streets."
Summing up, the editors felt the latest Monte Carlo "trounces [compact coupes] in size, comfort, and performance, and beats [rival Honda and Toyota] coupes on a features-perdollar basis. It isn't as polished as those…rivals and won't hold its value as well, but this new Chevy does have its own brand of American-car character."
Alas, it proved no more popular than the previous Monte. In fact, model-year 2000 production fell more than 5000 units from the '99 tally. Volume then rallied to some 71,000 -- and stayed there until 2005, when it dipped below 65,000. A near-zero market for midsize coupes didn't help. Neither did a lack of year-to-year change.
But there were two interesting Montes in this period that merit mention. One was the 2002 Dale Earnhardt Signature Edition SS, of which just 3333 were built between October 2001 and March 2002. This model was created to honor legendary NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt, who was tragically killed just short of the finish line in the 2001 Daytona 500.
Like the "Intimidator's" own racing Montes, the Earnhardt Signature Edition was finished in black. It also sported silver metallic "ground effects" lower-body skirting, "diamond-cut" alloy wheels, and graphics of Dale's signature, his famous No. 3 I.D., and the logo of team owner Richard Childress Racing. The graphics were repeated inside on a commemorative plaque and elsewhere on the dashboard.
The interior also featured ebony bucket seats with pewter leather inserts and embroidered bow-tie emblems on the headrests. Several regular SS options were part of the package, including power moonroof, heated six-way power bucket seats, and a free year of OnStar service. If any turn-of-millennium Monte stands to be a future collector car, this may be it.
Unless it's the Supercharged SS of 2004-05. Predictably, this was much like the "blown" Impala, with the same forced-induction V-6 and chassis upgrades including standard ABS with traction control. Like its sedan sister, this Monte was a good performance deal at just over $28,000 base, but even Chevy's NASCAR fans weren't that impressed.
For more on Chevrolet cars, old and new, see:
- Chevrolet New Car Reviews and Prices
- Chevrolet Used Car Reviews and Prices