Used 1998 Pontiac Trans Sport Minivan

1998 Pontiac Trans Sport
List price range
1998 Pontiac Trans Sport

Pros

  • Standard ABS. Standard side airbags. Optional traction control. Powerful V-6 engine. Montana's SUV-like styling camoflauges Mom-mobile. Power sliding right-side door.

Cons

  • Uncomfortable rear seats.

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Edmunds' Expert Review

vehicle overview

The difference is like night and day. Pontiac's current Trans Sport is so much better than the previous version that there is really 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 identical to what Chrysler offers with its top-of-the-line optional 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 weigh just 38 pounds each and are relatively easy to remove.

This is one safe van, on paper. Traction control is optional, while dual airbags and anti-lock brakes are standard. For 1998, side airbags are also part of the standard equipment list. 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 current 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 performed rather well during federal head-on crash 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 thus 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. Heck, the press kit conveniently left out ground clearance in the specification table. 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 though, 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 squished 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 features, combined with a pleasantly surprising fun-to-drive demeanor. So long as adult passengers drive or call shotgun, Pontiac's people mover makes perfect sense.

1998 Highlights

Short-wheelbase models get the dual sliding doors and power-sliding door options. Side-impact airbags are standard, and a white two-tone paint job is new. Second-generation airbags are standard for front-seat occupants.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 1998 Pontiac Trans Sport.

Overall Consumer Rating

Most helpful consumer reviews

Montana Van
TDAWG,03/01/2002
Overall the Montana is a very nice van. We bought it used, 2 years, with 34000 miles in great condition. I really like the van. The size, the easiness of loading/unloading, the pep in the 6 cylinder engine is more than enough, very quick and handles wonderfully, especially for a long/extnded mini-van. We love all the electronic gadgets but have had numerous 'little' problems with several of them.
Just Traded Mine
SpartanMan2,04/09/2002
Owned my 98 for 4 years. Traded it in with 55,000 miles. Engine coolant leaked and brakes were squealing.
Hard to replace
sayin_goodbye,01/02/2010
Purchased in 98. While we did experience the lovely Dex-cool challenge & intake manifold gasket problems, I have loved my van. Faced with the challenge of finding a new vehicle 11+ years later, few seem to match the bells and whistles we got on our Montana, nor the mileage for the size of the vehicle. Unfortunately, the engineers responsible for it are now likely unemployed - we didn't qualify for Cash for Clunkers due to the great mileage. Vehicle aged well, is still sound, durable, and comfortable, but starting to have small maintenance problems, prompting us to get a new vehicle. The perfect vehicle made for my family's use. Got us through the travelling years (soccer,football,camping)
ABS TCM
adamsjjjr69,06/26/2010
Has 220,000 miles but recently the ABS TCM lights came on. When I stop to restart the car and clear the lights, the wheels "lock up" and it will not move. Had to have it towed twice. Had to have the ABS TCM module replaced ($1200) and it worked ok until yesterday. Did the same thing and the wheels lock up. Anyone else have this problem, because my mechanics cannot figure out why. They are replacing components but not sure of the cause.
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Features & Specs

MPG
16 city / 23 hwy
Seats 0
4-speed automatic
Gas
180 hp @ 5200 rpm
MPG
16 city / 23 hwy
Seats 0
4-speed automatic
Gas
180 hp @ 5200 rpm
MPG
16 city / 23 hwy
Seats 0
4-speed automatic
Gas
180 hp @ 5200 rpm
MPG
16 city / 23 hwy
Seats 0
4-speed automatic
Gas
180 hp @ 5200 rpm
See all Used 1998 Pontiac Trans Sport Minivan features & specs

Safety

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver4 / 5
    Passenger3 / 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
    Poor

More about the 1998 Pontiac Trans Sport
Used 1998 Pontiac Trans Sport Minivan Overview

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Should I lease or buy a 1998 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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