Blurring the lines between minivan and SUV
Full Article: http://www.newsargus.com/jims-cars/
The Montana is not without a large number of desirable features, but first one downside. Side curtain airbags for second and third row occupants are not available even as an option. That’s a major oversight because people are buying as much safety as possible these days, particularly when it comes to vehicles that haul their families.
Virtually all large sport utility vehicles and minivans have the side curtains available for 2005.
On the plus side, the Montana comes with 4-wheel antilock brakes as standard equipment. And GM’s antiskid system, StabiliTrak, can be purchased as a $450 option. Side impact airbags for the front seat passengers are also available for an extra $350.
And Pontiac stresses its energy-absorbing frame built from high-strength steel with extra crush space in front.
What makes the SV6 a more attractive vehicle, particularly in northern climates, is the availability of all-wheel drive. That feature will push the price up about $2,300.
We found the SV6 to be a relaxing driving companion. The seating position is comfortable and the view out is excellent. The suspension is tuned to a ride bordering on the soft side. But we think that’s probably what minivan owners desire.
And the interior solitude is noteworthy. Pontiac has done a commendable job in reducing wind, road and outside noise from intruding.
All SV6’s come with a zesty 3.5-liter 200-horsepower V-6 mated to a 4-speed automatic. With a light load, the Montana has a quickness to its step. Four adult passengers slowed it down a bit, but we had no complaints over performance.
The engine is quiet unless forced into action with a firm plant of the right foot.
One of the Pontiac’s highlights is its entertainment system. Our test vehicle came with a DVD entertainment system, which includes headphones and a flip-down screen, as standard equipment.
XM Satellite radio was also a pleasing part of our week’s test drive. For the real music and movie lovers, Pontiac has an option called Mobile Digital Media powered by the PhatNoise system.
PhatNoise is a wallet-sized 40-gigabyte hard drive cartridge capable of storing and playing back 10,000 songs in MP3 format and storing and playing back up to 40 movies in MPEG format.
We were afforded a demonstration of the PhatNoise system in Detroit last summer and it is, indeed, amazing.
The SV6 comes in two trim levels, the 1SA starting at $25,235 and the 1SB starting at $28,605. All-wheel drive versions begin at $28,415 and $30,925.
A few desirable and interesting options on our test vehicle included power sliding doors, rear parking assist, 110 volt power outlet, remote vehicle starter system and rooftop luggage rails.
The bottom line was $31,790. If you can deal with the rear seating issues, the new Montana has a lot of interesting things to offer a family including a myriad of cupholders and storage nooks and crannies.