Full 2006 Pontiac Montana SV6 Review
What's New for 2006
Second-row side-impact airbags are newly optional. An optional 3.9-liter V6, rated at 240 horsepower, is new for 2006. A sport package, featuring the 3.9-liter V6, 17-inch chrome alloys, engine cooler and sport badging is new this year.
Pontiac's Montana minivan has never sold in the numbers General Motors would like. With strong offerings from Chrysler, Honda and Toyota that present the latest convenience features, Pontiac doesn't register very high on the average minivan buyer's radar. Part of the problem, according to GM's marketing team, might be due to the "mommy mobile" image minivans confer upon their owners, some of whom ultimately ditch their vans for SUVs.
In response, Pontiac introduced the Montana SV6, a "crossover sport van" based on the outgoing Montana's chassis. Compared to the Montana, the SV6 takes on a taller stance, a longer and more angular nose and a more tasteful application of body side cladding. The results are not altogether unattractive, and Pontiac again fields the most rugged-looking minivan in the GM lineup. The result, the carmaker hopes, is a perception among would-be buyers that the Pontiac Montana SV6 is closer to being a hip and stylish SUV than its more conventionally styled competitors. Sales of the Montana SV6 have not been especially brisk thus far, though, suggesting GM still has some work to do in getting this message across.
Despite the change in name and outward style, the SV6 does not represent a full redesign of the old-style Pontiac minivan (which dates back to 1997), and passenger and cargo space are nearly identical. The Montana SV6 does, however, incorporate more of the features that today's minivan buyers are looking for, along with a more powerful engine. Additionally, structural upgrades, including a longer, reinforced front end and a stiffer occupant compartment, have improved the van's crashworthiness. Seat-mounted side airbags for first- and second-row occupants are optional, but there's still no protection in the third row. Inside, the Pontiac Montana SV6 seats seven, and the fold-flat third-row seat offers a 50/50 split, allowing families to carry a mix of passengers and cargo.
The SV6 is more family-friendly than the old Montana, as Pontiac has taken Honda's example and installed folding center trays (with cupholders) between the first- and second-row captain's chairs. An overhead rail system provides rear-seat access to climate and entertainment functions, and can be customized to families' liking with various storage containers. In addition to the usual rear DVD entertainment system, the SV6 is available with a PhatNoise mobile digital media system that allows owners to store thousands of MP3s and/or several dozen movies on a removable 40-gigabyte storage device. We're not entirely sold on the whole "crossover sport van" concept. To our eyes, the Montana SV6 looks more like a minivan with a really big and flat front end. Subjective styling issues aside, the 2006 Pontiac Montana SV6 offers budding families a myriad of interior features and solid overall competence, but still doesn't match the driving dynamics, safety features or conveniences of the best-in-class minivans.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The Pontiac Montana SV6 van comes in one size and trim level. Standard equipment includes air conditioning, an eight-speaker sound system with a CD/MP3 player, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system, the OnStar communications system, cruise control, keyless entry and power windows, mirrors and locks. An upgrade option package includes a passenger-side power-sliding door, a power driver seat, a sport suspension, rear air conditioning, alloy wheels and additional interior storage. An all-wheel-drive system is available, and includes an automatic load-leveling rear suspension and an inflator kit. An optional PhatNoise mobile digital media system allows owners to store thousands of MP3s and/or several dozen movies. Other noteworthy options include dual power-sliding side doors, leather seating, a 115-volt A/C outlet, trip computer, rear parking assist, heated seats and a remote vehicle starting system. A sport package, featuring the 3.9-liter V6, 17-inch chrome alloys, engine cooler and sport badging is optional. The SV6 is also one of the few minivans to offer factory-installed mobility options, including a lowered floor and a sit-and-lift second-row seat.
Powertrains and Performance
The standard engine is a 3.5-liter V6 that makes 200 horsepower and 220 pound-feet of torque. It comes standard with a four-speed automatic transmission, and Pontiac offers this engine for the front-wheel-drive Montana SV6 as well as the all-wheel-drive version. A 3.9-liter V6 with 240 hp and 240 lb-ft of torque is optional, but only on the front-wheel-drive SV6.
All models come standard with four-wheel antilock disc brakes. Side-impact airbags for first- and second-row occupants are optional, but there's no protection for passengers seated in the third row. The StabiliTrak stability control system is optional. The NHTSA gave the 2006 Pontiac Montana SV6 a perfect five-star rating for driver and front-passenger protection in frontal crashes. For side-impact crashes, the SV6 earned four stars for protection of front occupants and five stars for the rear occupants. In frontal-offset crash testing conducted by the IIHS, Pontiac's minivan earned a "Good" rating (the highest).
Interior Design and Special Features
The Pontiac Montana SV6 seats seven, and the fold-flat third-row seat offers a convenient 50/50 split. A pleasing color scheme with faux metal accents brightens up the van's interior. Folding center trays (with cupholders) between the first- and second-row seats are available. An overhead rail system provides rear-seat access to climate and entertainment functions, and can be outfitted with various storage containers. Springing for the PhatNoise digital media system saves you the hassle of juggling DVDs on road trips, while an optional remote vehicle start system makes it easy to warm up the van on cold mornings.
The standard V6 power plant is down on power compared to its competitors, so we recommend you opt for the stouter 3.9-liter V6. The Montana SV6's suspension is on the soft side, yielding a smooth ride and average handling for this class. Upgrading to the sport suspension (part of the Convenience Package) does provide more responsive handling, though maneuverability in tight spaces is still compromised by the van's large turning radius.