Minivan; Built in USA
  • 3-door van
  • 4-door van
  • transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $1,900 – $6,500*


1998 Pontiac Trans Sport


1997 Pontiac Trans Sport


1997 Pontiac Trans Sport


1997 Pontiac Trans Sport interior


1997 Pontiac Trans Sport Montana

Pros:
  • Antilock brakes
  • Passenger and cargo room
  • Ride
Cons:
  • Fuel economy
  • Rear-seat comfort

Even though we still consider Chrysler’s minivans the best around, we’ve been impressed by the Trans Sport as well as its Chevrolet and Oldsmobile cousins.

Overview

Like its two GM siblings, the Chevrolet Venture and Oldsmobile Silhouette, Pontiac’s front-drive Trans Sport minivan was redesigned for 1997. Unlike the prior generation, the new one came in two sizes: standard-length and extended-length. The previous long-snout styling, dubbed the “dustbuster” look, was gone. Also gone were the plastic body panels that had characterized all three GM minivans from 1990-96.The shorter Trans Sport rode a 112-inch wheelbase, 2.2 inches longer than its predecessor. Extended-length models had a 120-inch wheelbase and were capable of holding a 4 x 8-foot sheet of plywood. Dual airbags and antilock brakes were standard. A driver-side sliding door was a new option on the longer version. Seating for seven was standard, and all Trans Sports got front bucket seats, and the driver’s seat tilted forward to allow access to the middle row. Integrated child seats were optional. All doors held map pockets, and side panels and rear armrests contained covered bins. Another handy feature was a cargo net that could be strung between the front seats. Under the hood sat the same powertrain used in 1996: a 3.4-liter V6 engine, making 180 horsepower and driving a 4-speed automatic transmission. No optional engines or transmissions were offered.

Yearly Updates

1998 Trans Sport/Montana
Front side airbags were installed in ’98 models. Regular-length models could now be ordered with dual sliding side doors (previously optional only on extended-length minivans). Either model could also have the power right-side sliding door.
1999 Trans Sport/Montana
Pontiac dropped the Trans Sport designation, naming all of its minivans Montana–the name of a popular option package in 1998.
2000 Trans Sport/Montana
All Montana minivans now had dual sliding doors. The instrument cluster was revised, and all rear seats got child-seat tether anchors.
2001 Montana
Montana got a stowable third-row bench seat, power left-side rear door, standard OnStar assistance system, and a minor front and rear facelift for 2001.
2002 Montana
Pontiac’s minivan got optional rear-obstacle detection, available all-wheel drive, and a DVD player for ’02.
2003 Montana
Antilock brakes and front side airbags are now an option on the entry-level regular-length 1SV model; they remain standard on other Montanas.
2004 Montana
The Montan’s 1SV model did not return in 2004. Also new this year is an optional MP3 player upgrade package.
2005 Montana
Pontiac’s minivan drops regular-length and all-wheel-drive models for 2005. Montana will be reborn later in the model year as the Montana SV6, with SUV-inspired styling and a different V6. Montana shares its design with the Chevrolet Venture, which will be similarly recast as the 2005 Uplander.

Engines

transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive

Pontiac dropped the Trans Sport designation, naming all of its minivans Montana–the name of a popular option package in 1998.

ohv V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.4/207
Engine HP 180-185
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 205-210
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic

18/25

18.7

Road Test

You can expect a stable, comfortable ride as the standard suspension absorbs most road imperfections with ease. With the firmer suspension that’s part of the Montana Package, you’ll feel more bumps and the ride gets a little jittery on rough surfaces. Steering is firm and precise, and a Trans Sport corners with good grip and moderate body lean.

Smooth-running and fairly quiet, the 3.4-liter V6 produces sufficient acceleration for most conditions. When three or more people are aboard and you need a quick burst of power for passing, however, the minivan feels sluggish. The smooth-shifting automatic transmission downshifts quickly for passing. As for economy, we averaged 18.7 mpg, with a little more highway driving than urban miles. Wind noise around the mirrors is noticeable on the highway, but road and engine noise are minimal.

Low step-in height makes entry/exit easy–easier yet with the optional driver-side sliding door. Gauges are unobstructed, and the driver can reach the large radio and climate controls without much of a stretch.

Leg room is at least adequate all around. Most adults should fit in the middle and rear seats without scrunching, but some might complain because the seats are low to the floor, forcing some awkward bending of the knees.

Individual bucket seats are light enough to be removed by one person. So is the rear bench. Short-wheelbase models have only a narrow cargo area at the rear, when all seats are in place. Extended-wheelbase minivans have a much larger cargo area out back.

Ratings

Model Tested: 1998 Pontiac Trans Sport ext.

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.

Performance

Acceleration - 4
40%
Fuel Economy - 4
40%
Ride Quality - 6
60%
Steering/Handling - 5
50%
Quietness - 5
50%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 6
60%
Room/Comfort Front - 6
60%
Room/Comfort Rear - 7
70%
Cargo Room - 9
90%

Other

Value - 5
50%

Total: 57

Specifications

3-door van
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
112.0 187.3 72.7 67.4
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
126.6 20.0 7n1
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.9 39.3 39.9 36.9
4-door van
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
120.0 201.3 72.7 68.1
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
155.9 25.0 7n1
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.9 39.3 39.9 39.0
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 1999 Montana 4-door van

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 4
80%
Front Passenger Injury - 3
60%

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - 5
100%
Rear Passenger Injury - 5
100%

HLDI

(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision 55
Injury 50
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Brakes
Description: The brake pedal may not return fully causing the brakes to drag, get hot, and wear out prematurely. Also, the cruise control will not function. The cause may be misadjusted brake or cruise-control switches, or a defective brake-pedal assembly. (1997)
Climate control
Description: The heater may not be adequate in very cold weather requiring as revised heater core and possibly a new air-distribution duct for the floor outlet. (1997)
Climate control
Description: If the air conditioning is insufficient, the engine cooling fan, and the air-conditioning orifice tube may have to be replaced. (1997)
Engine noise
Description: Ticking on cold startup may be due to excessive piston pin to bore clearance. (1997-98)
Engine temperature
Description: Overheating and coolant loss may be due to rough surface on radiator filler neck. Neck should be sanded smooth and cap replaced. (1999-2000)
Hard starting
Description: Corroded electrical connector under the driver’s seat can cause hard starting, stalling, and improper fuel gauge readings. (2000-02)
Suspension noise
Description: A dull, rattling noise from the rear on long wheelbase models equipped with electronic level control requires replacement shock absorbers. (1997-98)
Windows
Description: If the “auto-down” feature of the power window quits, a voltage spike from the driver’s side switch has probably destroyed the integrated circuit that controls this function. (1997)
Windshield
Description: The windshield may crack in cold weather. (1997)

Recall History

1997-05 w/second-row bucket seats or captain’s chairs and power sliding passenger door
Description: If someone holds onto the sliding-door handle while it’s being opened by the motor, that person’s arm may be pushed into the seatback or armrest, possibly resulting in injury to wrist or lower arm.
1997-2001 w/passenger-side sliding door
Description: Door closes but may not be latched. If this happens, the sliding door can open while the vehicle is in motion.
1997-98
Description: Windshield-wiper linkage arm can contact brake line connected to traction-control modulator valve; brake line can chafe, resulting in brake-fluid leakage.
1998
Description: Broken shift-cable fitting or loose shift linkage can occur; moving shift lever to “Park” position may not shift the transmission to “Park,” and vehicle could roll.
1999 Montana
Description: Driver’s-side-airbag inflator module could explode on deployment because of excessive internal pressure.
2000
Description: Some seatbelt assemblies were not properly heat treated and do not pass the load-bearing requirement.
2001 Montana
Description: Passenger-airbag inflator modules may have been built without the correct amount of explosive. Airbag explosion or failure could occur.
2001
Description: Seat-latch anchor-wire diameter may be wider than 6.1 mm, potentially inhibiting the installation of child restraints.
2002
Description: Driver side-airbag inflator could fracture during deployment, increasing the risk of serious injury.
2002-03
Description: Owner’s manual doesn’t adequately explain child-restraint anchorage system. Dealers will send vehicle owners a supplement to their manual.
2004
Description: Warning label attached to available second-row integral child restraint is incomplete.
2005
Description: In a side-impact crash, outboard release handle on impact-side second-row bucket seat may be actuated, and rear latches may unlatch early.
2005
Description: When parking brake is released, driver may notice unintended braking when accelerating, decelerating, or coasting; may also be noise from rear of vehicle.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.

Pricing

Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.