Used 1997 Chevrolet Monte Carlo Review

what's new

Z34 gets a new transmission, while all models have daytime running lights. A power sunroof is optional.

vehicle overview

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, 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.

edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.