1997 Pontiac Trans Sport Review

Used Trans Sport for sale
List Price Estimate:$556 - $968
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Pontiac Trans Sport model years
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Edmunds' Expert Review

  • Euro-ride and handling, lightweight modular seating, zingy V-6 engine, fun-to-drive, standard ABS, optional power sliding door, optional 8-passenger seating, optional rear seat audio controls, standard ABS, optional traction control, optional load-leveling suspension
  • Lightweight modular seats are uncomfortable, lots of cheap plastic inside, no power lock switch in cargo bay

Vehicle overview

The difference is like night and day. Pontiac's new Trans Sport is so much better than the previous version that there really is no comparison. So forget about the bullet-nosed, plastic-bodied, Dustbuster Trans Sport of yesteryear. Pontiac is rewriting Chrysler's book on minivans.

How so? For starters, the Trans Sport features a standard 3.4-liter, 180-horsepower V6 engine. That's substantially more power than Chrysler offers with its top-of-the-line motor. Available, just like on the Chrysler vans, is a driver's-side sliding door. Buyers needing eight-passenger seating can select the Trans Sport, the only minivan on the market offering this configuration. Chrysler vans feature roll-away bench seats, but they're heavy suckers to unload. The Trans Sport can be equipped with modular seats that weight just 38 pounds each, and are a breeze to remove.

This is one safe van, on paper. Traction control is optional, while dual airbags and antilock brakes are standard. Daytime running lights operate the parking lamps rather than the headlights. If GM provided a similar arrangement on all DRL-equipped models, we bet the negative criticism for them wouldn't be nearly as severe or widespread. The new Trans Sport meets 1998 side impact standards, too. Be warned, however, that the Trans Sport fared very poorly in offset crash testing conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, but peformed remarkably well during federal head-on crush runs. There are no federal standards governing offset crashworthiness.

The sliding door on the right side of the van can be equipped to open automatically with the push of a button. The ventilation system features a replaceable pollen filter, which is good news for allergy sufferers. Optional rear audio controls allow rear passengers to listen to a CD, cassette, or stereo via headphones while front passengers listen to their choice of any of the three mediums simultaneously.

Around town, the Trans Sport feels downright spunky, with good throttle response and car-like handling. Braking is excellent for a 4,000-pound vehicle. Visibility is uncompromised, thanks in part to the huge exterior mirrors that effectively eliminate blind spots. Front seats are quite comfortable, and most controls are easy to see and use. If it weren't for the expansive windshield and high driving position, drivers might not realize the Trans Sport was a van.

Pontiac is pushing the Montana package, making Trans Sports so equipped the focal point of the lineup. Product planners claim that the Montana bridges the gap between sport utility and minivan. Ummm, we don't think so. It takes more than body-cladding, white-letter tires, alloy wheels, fog lights, and traction control to match an SUV when it comes to capability. Image is another matter, and the Montana does blur the line between minivan and sport utility in terms of styling, but nobody will mistake this Pontiac for a Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Sounds good, for a minivan. There are problems, however. Chief among them are seriously uncomfortable modular seats that provide little in the way of thigh and leg support. When sitting in one of the rear chairs, adult passengers will grow cranky quickly. The automatic sliding door is designed to reverse direction when it determines that an object is blocking its closure path. Be warned; the door doesn't behave like an elevator door. It can almost knock unsuspecting adults over before reversing. Teach children that they are strong enough to push the door back, and not to be afraid of getting closed in if the door doesn't stop immediately. Other flaws include difficult-to-reach center console storage, lack of a power lock switch in the cargo area, and excessive amounts of cheap-looking plastic inside.

Basically, we like the Trans Sport for its standard and optional array of features, combined with a pleasantly surprising fun-to-drive demeanor. So long as adult passengers drive or call shotgun, Pontiac's new people mover should find immediate acceptance from the buying public.

1997 Highlights

Pontiac redesigns the Trans Sport.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 1997 Pontiac Trans Sport.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

4.38 out of 5 stars
I'm going to miss it, loved it!
SE 3dr Ext Minivan
It's been an excellent van/truck/taxi/ etc. We have used this van for family every day stuff,and hauling trailers, or loaded with bikes, furniture, landscape products and more! The 4 doors and 4 captain seats a big plus for comfort or temporary removal. Did blow out the motor in 2004. Had a rebuilt one put in, no more major problems. Always started in cold CDN winters. At 10 yrs the A/C and power sliding door not working, we gave up and eventually turned the switch to "off". Now at 13 years, seeing more serious repair. Fuel injector 1yr ago, Rear wheel cylinders, alternator, tranny and rack and pinion showing signs of potential problems in near future. Been a great reliable vehicle.
3.63 out of 5 stars
1997 Pontiac Montana Van
SE 3dr Ext Minivan
Bought this van new in 1997. We've had several great road trips in this van! Lots of interior room, captain's chairs are comfortable. Engine runs good, and 25gal tank is good for 400 miles between fill-ups. Replaced the transmission at 110k miles. Air conditioner quit working last summer, and the auto-load leveling system doesn't work anymore. Now has 170k miles and still rolling!
3.63 out of 5 stars
Beware of first year models
Disappointed Owner,06/05/2002
SE 3dr Ext Minivan
It is the most comfortable van to take road trips with, powerful, and for a minivan, get's excellent gas mileage. About 26 to 28 on the highway. Since 1997 was the first total re-do of the Trans Sport line, this may be one reason it hasn't faired too well in the long run. I purchased the van used (in 1998) From about 60,000 miles up, the following has been repaired: Power steering pump Power steering rack (twice) A/C Compressor Radiator Water Pump Steering column failure ABS and TCS system Power Accessory Control Module Wiper blade arm (stripped) Front headlights fell apart Air bag (still to be repaired)
4.5 out of 5 stars
Montana - love it
SE 3dr Ext Minivan
Right at 100k miles now. No major mechanical problems - never touched a wrench to motor or transmision, front end, rear end, etc. ROutine brakes, service, replaced water pump, belt, battery, shocks and tires and that's it. Runs great and uses no oil. I will buy another one.


NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver4 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    DriverNot Rated
    PassengerNot Rated
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    RolloverNot Rated
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Not Tested
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Not Tested
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test

More about the 1997 Pontiac Trans Sport

Used 1997 Pontiac Trans Sport Overview

The Used 1997 Pontiac Trans Sport is offered in the following submodels: Trans Sport Minivan. Available styles include SE 3dr Minivan, and SE 3dr Ext Minivan. The Used 1997 Pontiac Trans Sport comes with front wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 4-speed automatic.

What's a good price on a Used 1997 Pontiac Trans Sport?

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Which used 1997 Pontiac Trans Sports are available in my area?

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Can't find a used 1997 Pontiac Trans Sports you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Pontiac Trans Sport for sale - 2 great deals out of 16 listings starting at $8,289.

Find a used Pontiac for sale - 1 great deals out of 11 listings starting at $8,635.

Find a used certified pre-owned Pontiac Trans Sport for sale - 12 great deals out of 23 listings starting at $10,057.

Find a used certified pre-owned Pontiac for sale - 2 great deals out of 12 listings starting at $19,119.

Should I lease or buy a 1997 Pontiac Trans Sport?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

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