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Available Monte Carlo Models
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The Z34 model gets a different engine and fresh wheels. Second-generation airbags are added. New paint colors and one new interior hue round out the changes.
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 nameplates. All fine and dandy, if the new product is able to live up to the legend, like the Impala SS was 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 new-for-1998 200-horsepower 3800 V6 engine under the hood of the Z34 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.
Changes to the 1998 Monte Carlo are minimal, and largely limited to improvements for the sporty Z34. Under the Z34's hood is a powerful 3800 V6 engine from the GM parts bin. This motor replaces the old twin-cam 3400 V6, which lacked low-end grunt and suffered from some rumored durability issues. The new engine is very satisfying, if not world-class in terms of refinement. The Z34 dumps its attractive five-spoke painted alloy wheels in favor or more aggressive looking machine-faced rims. Also new are four fresh paint colors, and a new medium gray interior.
The 1998 Monte Carlo is better than any Monte before it, but is saddled with vanilla styling that renders it nearly invisible on the road. With the demise of the rear-wheel drive Ford Thunderbird/Mercury Cougar, this Chevy only has real competition from the higher priced Pontiac Grand Prix coupe. Chrysler and Dodge also offer personal coupes in this segment, and while the Dodge Avenger is absolutely gorgeous, it lacks power and refinement. In this price niche, you really have only one choice for a roomy and traditional American coupe, and that's the Monte Carlo.
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