What's New for 1997
Z34 gets a new transmission, while all models have daytime running lights. A power sunroof is optional.
Essentially a Lumina coupe, the Monte Carlo is one more marketing trick from the folks who brought us the Genuine Chevrolet' ad campaign, and resurrected the Impala SS and Malibu. All fine and dandy, if the new product is able to live up to the legend, like the Impala SS has been able to. We think that Chevrolet should have made more of a styling statement with this car before slapping the Monte Carlo nameplate on it.
Sure, the twin-cam, 3.4-liter V6 under the hood is satisfying. Yes, this Monte Carlo handles better than its Lumina Z34 predecessor. But it's still a Lumina coupe, and Chevy stylists did not even try to disguise that fact. It looks nothing like flared-fendered Monte Carlos of yore, which can be either a good or bad thing, but styling is what sold so many Montes in the '70s and '80s. This one, while negligibly attractive, has no distinct personality of its own.
It works well on the track, though. Ford has been whuppin' the Chevy boys in NASCAR with the slick Thunderbird for years, but this new Lumin...er, Monte Carlo, has kept the blue oval boys at bay for two years now.
New to the Monte Carlo for 1997 is a smoother-shifting electronically controlled four-speed automatic transmission for the Z34. The optional sunroof that never materialized in 1996 has made the options roster for 1997. Two new colors, Dark Jade Green Metallic and Deep Purple Metallic, debut, as do daytime running lights. The tethered fuel cap is easier to use, and a 16mm rear stabilizer bar has been added. Front and rear glass is Solar-Ray tinted, and a new oil life monitor has been added to tell driver's when the oil is ready to be changed.
The 1997 Monte Carlo is better than any Monte before it, but is saddled with vanilla styling that renders it nearly invisible on the road. The Thunderbird is into its ninth model year in current guise, but its classy looks and excellent interior design keep it in the hunt. However, check into a Dodge Avenger ES or Chrysler Sebring LXi before buying anything in the personal coupe class, despite their less inspiring straight-line acceleration.