Pontiac advertising seems to suggest that Montana is something more exciting and adventurous than the standard-issue suburban minivan. The truth is, the Montana differs only in detail from minivans offered by Chevrolet and Oldsmobile. And yet, the Montana does indeed offer some engaging characteristics, which set it apart from even its closest, GM-built cousins.
For one thing, you grab Montana by a steering wheel that's thick and meaty, and roll on tires that don't squeal unless drive with a sports-sedan level or enthusiasm. Those things alone relate to a better driving experience.
For another, Montana is really quite handsome by minivan standards, especially with the new and neater front bumper and grille it has acquired for 2001. And that contributes to the ownership experience.
Finally, like its GM nest mates, Montana can be ordered with a slickly integrated video entertainment system that can significantly improve your family's traveling experience.
The Montana is available in two wheelbase lengths (112 and 120 inches), and with eight or 10 different option packages, depending on how you count them. All of them are simply called Montana, with no suffixes such as SE, LE, and so forth; which is either admirably refreshing or exasperatingly confusing, depending on your point of view.
In any case, regular-length Montanas start at $24,180; extended-length versions are priced from $26,520. Air conditioning, ABS, and side-impact airbags are standard on all models.
You'll want to spend some time figuring out the best seating arrangement for your particular needs. The base-level, short-wheelbase van comes with six bucket seats, but can also be configured for seven passsengers, with two buckets up front, two captain's chairs in the middle, and a three-person 50/50 split bench seat in the rear. Or trade the split bench for a fully stowable bench. Even eight-passenger seating is available, with three modular bucket seats in the second row and the stowable bench in the third. Extended-length models offer the same configurations again, minus the six-bucket style and plus a second eight-passenger variation with the split bench rather than the stowable in the extreme rear.
The MontanaVision video entertainment system comes only as part of the top two option packages on the extended-wheelbase model. So, effectively, MontanVision prices begin at $31,275.
All models get two sliding rear doors as standard equipment; a power-operated curbside door comes with most long-wheelbase trim levels. OnStar is standard on all models. Parking Aid, an ultrasonic system that detects objects immediatley behind the rear bumper, is standard on the more deluxe long-wheelbase models and optional on others.