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2002 Pontiac Montana REVIEW

Edmunds.com logo Edmunds.com 4/5/2017

Con: Weak offset crash-test scores, cheap interior materials, unrefined powertrain character.

Pro: Available eight-passenger seating, folding third-row seat (extended length models), optional rear parking aid sensor, spunky V6, sporty handling, available all-wheel drive, optional DVD video player.

Edmunds Say: If you can stomach the heavy doses of plastic trim both inside and out, the Montana offers peppy performance and comfortable passenger accommodations in a feature-laden package.

What’s New: Pontiac's big news for the Montana this year is the availability of the Versatrak all-wheel-drive system. Also debuting this year on the Montana is the Thunder Sport package and a very cool DVD entertainment system.

Review: Ever since it took on the rugged Montana name and a pseudo-SUV marketing angle, Pontiac's fun-to-drive minivan has been gaining attention as a worthy challenger to its rivals.

Like most other minivan makers, Pontiac offers optional power sliding doors on both the driver and passenger sides. Unlike most minivans, however, the Montana can be configured to accommodate up to eight passengers. Furthermore, Chrysler, Ford and Toyota vans feature removable third-row seats, but they're heavy suckers to unload. The Montana can be equipped with a handy folding third-row bench that creates a flat load floor when stowed or lightweight modular seating that can be configured in a wide variety of ways. Montana buyers can even get a reverse parking aid sensor, rear-seat audio controls and a DVD video player to make family life in the 'burbs more pleasant.

For motivation, the Montana features a 3.4-liter 185-horsepower V6 that gets 19 mpg in the city and 26 on the highway. Around town, Montana feels downright spunky, with good throttle response and car-like handling. Its four-speed automatic shifts seamlessly, and braking is excellent. Front seats are comfy, and controls are easy to see and use.

In the safety column, dual front and side airbags are standard, as are antilock brakes and daytime running lights that operate the parking lamps rather than the headlights. Self-sealing tires that won't lose their air when they suffer a minor tread puncture and a rear window defogger are standard, along with a ventilation system that features a replaceable pollen filter. The OnStar communications system is also included on all Montanas, making it easy to call for help should the need arise.

New this year on extended-wheelbase Montanas is a Thunder Sport package that adds a fully independent suspension, 16-inch aluminum wheels, two-tone leather, a rear spoiler and the all-important "Thunder" badging. Also new for 2002 is the availability of GM's Versatrak all-wheel-drive system, making the Montana a much more capable all-weather vehicle. If you like the styling and need maximum passenger capacity in a feature laden package, the Montana might just be the minivan that your family is looking for.

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