Thursday, September 24, 2009

2007-2009 Chevrolet Uplander, Pontiac Montana

I almost forgot this one, I don't drive too many different types of minivans so it sometimes is easy to forget them.

Introduction: The Chevrolet Uplander and Pontiac Montana are both part of GM's minivans. The earliest GM minivans were introduced for 1990 as the Chevrolet Lumina, Pontiac Trans Sport and the Oldsmobile Silhouette. GM's minivans have only gone through 3 generations with the early Luminas lasting nearly 10 years in production. These minivans were GM's attempt to take on Chrysler and its Caravan which sells in very high volume. Ford was the first to quit the minivan business after the Freestar's disappointing sales, now GM also put its minivans on the chopping block and have so far not mentioned a succeeding minivan beyond the 2009 model year.

Like I mentioned in the last review, I wasn't too thrilled about the GM minivans either. I don't even get much in terms of choices of minivans its either GM or Dodge, now its all Dodge.

Performance: The GM minivans are all powered by a 3.9L V6 making this the biggest V6 available for a minivan outside of the highest spec Dodge Caravan. The Canadian spec V6 is flex fuel compatible allowing you to put in E85. These engines produce 240 hp and 240 lb.ft of torque making these the least expensive but most powerful minivans. Unfortunately they do not produce the best acceleration numbers since they can only do 0-100 km/h in 8.1 seconds. Better than the least powerful minivans but not close to Toyota or Honda who both have smaller V6s and are still quicker. You do not really notice the size of the V6 in the Uplander/Montana since it doesn't move the van that quickly, its better than the Caravan but it doesn't feel fast nor acts like the engine is that quick.

My Score: 8/10 - Engine is adequate in performance but not efficient versus Toyota or Honda

Handling: The Uplander as a minivan is not designed to tackle corners. Taking these minivans to a corner quickly, you'll notice huge amounts of roll and at the same time not feel all that excited until you probably get the sense the van will roll over. They're much easier to park than the Caravans mostly with their better turning radius. They're not fun however, the wheel is very lightly weighted and thus produces little feel. I guess its suited for moms but as a driver who likes driving these were a bore to drive.

My Score: 3/10 - Not good at corners, bad body roll, lacking steering feel.

Interior: With minivans, you have to look at the clever ways they use space or innovative features that make them worth buying over the competition. The short wheel base GM vans do not provide very good trunk space and do not have Chrysler's clever stow n' go. Even worse as base vehicles they only provide 6 seats making it a somewhat pointless minivan until you go further with options to get 7 seats. Most minivans offer 7 or 8 seating, its the Crossover SUVs that offer mostly 6 or 7 seats. As for cargo space, you can fold the seats but they take up extra room versus the Caravan which folds the seats to floor level. The van's materials are pretty cheap and mostly unattractive. The wheel like I mentioned about the Grand Prix is also gigantic, not sure why. Last but not least the build quality...the GM minivans have horrid build quality. I've seen some vans where the plastic tag for the carpets that were not removed meaning sometimes you see a tiny plastic spike in your carpet. They rattle very often due to loose pieces all over, the cup holder often fails and I've once had door trim come out. Worse however is sometimes the trim surrounding the door rails fail and prevent the sliding door from opening. They're almost as bad as Trailblazers in this sense. They are built in Doraville, Georgia, USA.

My Score: 2/10 - 7 passenger seating is an option, no interior innovation and very badly built

Styling: The Montana is a pretty standard looking minivan, the Uplander however has a horrible looking grille. Some automobile articles think the Uplander is one of the worst vehicles in terms of style...I'll only agree if they specifically focus only on grilles. Taking out the grille, the rest of the van is generic. The Edsel looked very good if it weren't for that grille it had. There are uglier vehicles out there.

My Score: 5/10 - Generic minivan styling but the Uplander has a terrible grille.

Value for money: These minivans can only compete well if they are at their base MSRP unfortunately the fact that the 7 seating capacity is an option puts it in trouble. There's nothing special about the interior versus the Caravan. Its not very luxurious either compared to the Japanese. This current generation is also horribly unreliable, the traction control always believes it has a problem. Other than being heavily discounted these are not worthwhile vans.

My Score: 2/10 - 7 passenger capacity being an option, poor reliability, offers very little compared to the competition.

Overall: 20/50 - These are not good minivans, they're cheap for a reason and it seems GM realized it was no good and killed it for good reason.


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  4. Thanks for great info. Heard of a deal on one so great to see this review!

  5. Focus on reliability and cost of ownership. That is usually a deciding factor when buying used with history

  6. The Chevrolet Uplander is really an impressive minivan and is good for medium to large family. The Uplander Repair and Servicing Manuals are also available in the market so that one can repair minivan with out any hesitation.