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2003 Chevrolet Monte Carlo Coupe

2dr Cpe SS

Starting at | Starting at 19 MPG City - 29 MPG Highway

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  • $23,560 original MSRP
Printable Version

2003 Chevrolet Monte Carlo Coupe

Printable Version

2003 Chevrolet Monte Carlo Coupe


2003 Chevrolet Monte Carlo

Source: New Car Test Drive


Something comes over us when we're in a Chevy Monte Carlo. It's hard not to fantasize we're rocketing down the front straight at Talladega with 42 stock cars glued to the rear bumper. Or maybe we're going through the inner loop at Watkins Glen, bounding off the curbs as we go through the big chicane. The Monte Carlo has that bad boy look and feel.

No matter what you think of the styling, you'll quickly form a bond with the Monte Carlo. It's just so easy to get along with this car. It's roomy and comfortable and easy to operate. It's fast and fun to drive. It's stable at high speeds for long runs down the interstate and it's great fun on back roads, the same kind of roads that form the roots of stock car racing.

The Monte Carlo also offers a lot of value, with strong performance for the dollar. You see, the Monte's mission is two-fold. Since its debut in 1970, it's been a high-value personal luxury coupe, a car that delivers a lot of visual importance for relatively small monthly payments. But for most of those years, the Monte Carlo has also been Chevrolet's standard-bearer in stock car racing. Keeping ahead of the competition has required constant aerodynamic refinement. So there's a reason the Monte Carlo looks like it does: the Winston Cup rule book. The rules of Winston Cup racing demand the cars we see flying around the high banks are similar to those sitting in the showrooms. The result is an attention-grabbing shape like no other on the road, a shape born in the wind tunnels.

It's a surprisingly practical shape as well. Despite its race-track breeding, the Monte Carlo offers more interior volume that any other car in its class (with the exception of other GM vehicles). Its front-drive chassis is tuned for a comfortable ride and competent handling. An SS model, the only Monte Carlo to buy, provides a potent 3.8-liter V6 to complement its racy good looks. Of course, the Monte Carlo at the local dealership does not have the tube-frame chassis or rear-wheel drive of a NASCAR machine. But the SS does deliver spirited performance, along with a chance to feel connected to a winning tradition.

Model Lineup

Two trim levels are offered. Both come with a four-speed automatic transmission.

Monte Carlo LS ($20,465) is powered by a 3.4-liter ohv V6 rated 180 horsepower at 5200 rpm, and 205 pounds-feet of torque at 4000 rpm. Standard equipment includes air conditioning with separate controls for driver and passenger; traction control; AM/FM/cassette stereo; cloth-covered bucket seats; center console; power windows, mirrors, and door locks; and, new for 2003, remote keyless entry. The suspension is all-independent and bolstered by anti-roll bars front and rear, and the brakes are four-wheel-discs with ABS. Sixteen-inch aluminum wheels are shod with P225/60R16 Goodyear Eagle GA touring tires. An optional Sport Appearance Package ($615) offers unique-looking five-spoke alloy wheels and a race-inspired rear spoiler.

Monte Carlo SS ($23,030) relies on a 200-horsepower 3.8-liter V6. Its tires are the same size as the LS model's, but are upgraded to Goodyear Eagle RSA performance rubber. A Sport Suspension package, with higher-rate springs and four-stage strut valving, is available only on the SS. Without this package, you might as well be looking at an Impala, which adds the practicality of rear doors. All SS Monte Carlos come with a side-impact air bag for the driver, cruise control, pollen filtration, fog lamps, full instrumentation, sport seats with adjustable lumbar support for the driver, OnStar communications, leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, and a more modest rear deck spoiler.

A High Sport Appearance Package ($2100) is available for the SS that includes full ground effects, a race-inspired deck spoiler, unique aluminum wheels, stainless-steel exhaust tips and a red bow tie identification in the instrument cluster panel.

Options for all Monte Carlos include power seats ($325), power sunroof ($795), and a premium CD stereo with six speakers ($445). For 2003, serious audiophiles should choose optional XM Satellite Radio, with 100 coast-to-coast digital channels, including 71 music channels (more than 30 of them commercial-free) and 29 channels of sports, talk, 24-hour news, and children's entertainment. Chevrolet claims that XM's sound quality is remarkably close to a compact disc.


Nothing else looks like a Chevrolet Monte Carlo. Chevrolet says Monte Carlo buyers usually cite styling as a major influence on their purchasing decision. The Monte's sharply creased quarters and thick rear roof pillars represent a design heritage 33 years old. At the same time, the 2003 model is as modern as the latest computer simulation, refined in the wind tunnel for maximum stability with minimal drag.

The Monte Carlo is a slick car aerodynamically and, as we said, it looks like nothing else on the road. The folks who own them love them. To us, however, it looks as if it were designed by a committee. Individual elements are attractive, but we're not quite satisfied with how they hang together as a whole. We aren't attracted to its droopy nose and flat flanks, nor to the bump in the deck lid and the radical roofline.

But what you can't see is just as important to the integrity of the Monte Carlo. In that respect, we have to give Chevrolet high marks. Compared to pre-2000 Monte Carlos, the current model has been strengthened in the roof, doors, and floor pan. An extruded aluminum front cradle isolates the engine, transmission, steering, and suspension from the main structure of the car. A cast magnesium beam, (Chevrolet calls it a MagBeam) fits behind the instrument panel to further increase chassis rigidity, and to provide stiff mounting points for the dashboard systems. As a result, the latest Monte Carlo is much quieter than any previous generation. Increased chassis stiffness also makes the car less prone to developing squeaks and rattles over time.

Interior Features

The Chevy Monte Carlo's interior is a nice design with a sporty flavor that reminds us of the Corvette and Camaro. The seats in our SS came in optional black leather ($625), which we really liked. The bucket seats are quite comfortable for around-town driving. Their shape makes it easy to get in and out of the car. Both seats are easy to adjust, and there's plenty of range for short and tall drivers, though headroom was lacking for a 6-foot, 3-inch driver who sat in the car. We liked the optional power driver's seat ($325). The Comfort Seating Package ($445) comes with dual seat heaters and adds a power front passenger's seat.

This is an easy car to operate. Turning on the headlights feels like a step back in time: Just pull the big knob on the left. The steering wheel in the SS features well-designed audio and cruise controls. The cruise control works well, though you may have to look at it initially to position your thumb. The cockpit-style dashboard separates the driver completely from the front passenger and provides fingertip access to every system in the array. It's a nicely styled package, and it works. The ignition switch is conveniently located on the dash, well to the right of the steering wheel. This makes it easy to quickly get in the car and get going, or quickly get out of the car after shutting it off.

The instruments are straightforward, well-laid-out and easy to read. Chevrolet now uses the same uniformly functional instrument layout throughout the product line, from the Corvette to the Silverado pickup. With black backgrounds, white markings and red needles, these gauges not only look racy but are also easy to read and scan. Major and minor gauges are placed on slightly different planes to add visual interest. The tall center console is a bit intrusive for drivers who like to shift the automatic transmission manually, however, and the T-handle shifter looks dated.

The optional side-impact airbag ($350) is a good idea, but it's only available for the driver's side.

The trunk is large, but the opening is relatively small, making it difficult to load big boxes.

Driving Impressions

The Monte Carlo SS handles well on back roads and it goes when you punch it. The suspension instilled a strong sense of control on the back roads of Virginia. Steering is tight and responsive, though we'd like a little more feedback. The ride is smooth, yet we felt well connected to the road. This is a nice car for cruising, whether motoring down the boulevard or charging across the state. It's stable at high speeds on interstates and in long, sweeping turns.

The optional Sport Suspension works with the SS model's fat P225/60R16 Goodyear Eagle RSA tires to provide surprisingly high levels of grip. The tires are a little noisy, but that's a tradeoff we willingly accept for their bite. The Monte Carlo has the widest front and rear track in its segment. (The track is the distance between the left and right tires.)

Engine and transmission are responsive as well. The Monte Carlo SS features GM's thoroughly proven 3800 V6, which delivers 200 horsepower and 225 pounds-feet of torque. That may sound puny compared to, say, a 7.4-liter Monte Carlo SS from 1970, but it's more than enough to break the tires loose on this front-wheel-drive car. Punch the throttle and there's instant power and lots of it. It's probably the most highly developed overhead-valve V6 in the world. GM has baked in plenty of refinement since the late 1970s, reducing valve-train and bearing friction, bolstering bottom-end strength, and tweaking the electronic engine management and fuel injection. For a pushrod V6, this is about as good as it gets. Couple this engine to GM's excellent four-speed automatic transmission, add all-speed traction control, and you've got yourself a really solid drive train that offers fun as well as decent fuel economy.

The 3400 V6 is an adequate performer, but the Monte Carlo isn't quite the same with this smaller engine. In fact, it seems to miss the point entirely. If it's economy you're after, maybe you should look at the Chevy Impala, which is based on the same platform.

If you're going to run with the fast guys, you'd better have good brakes. Fortunately, the Monte Carlo boasts the largest brake calipers and disc-brake rotors in its class. We punished them mightily on one of our favorite stretches of twisty road, without a hint of fade or grabbing. Four-wheel disc brakes come standard on all Monte Carlos. ABS comes standard on the SS, which helps the driver maintain steering control of the car in an emergency stopping situation.


The Chevrolet Monte Carlo is a fast, competent, and comfortable cruiser on interstate runs and good fun on back roads. The Monte Carlo SS offers spirited acceleration, decent handling, and good brakes. This is a car shaped in a wind-tunnel that the purpose of getting around Indianapolis Motor Speedway as quickly as possible. We strongly recommend the SS and like the optional leather interior.


Model Line Overview

Model lineup: LS ($20,465); SS ($23,030)
Engines: 180-hp 3.4-liter ohv 12-valve V6; 200-hp 3.8-liter ohv 12-valve V6
Transmissions: 4-speed automatic
Safety equipment (standard): dual airbags, three-point belts for all seats, LATCH anchors for child seats, ABS, traction control
Safety equipment (optional): driver's side-impact airbag (SS only)
Basic warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles
Assembled in: Oshawa, Ontario, Canada

Specifications As Tested

Model tested (MSRP): Monte Carlo SS ($23,030)
Standard equipment: air conditioning, power steering, power brakes, dual remote mirrors, dual vanity mirrors, tinted glass, passive anti-theft system, tilt wheel, 225/60R-16 tires, cast aluminum wheels, remote keyless entry, rear spoiler, ABS, traction control
Options as tested (MSRP): Preferred Equipment Group ($1985) includes AM/FM/cassette/CD stereo with six speakers, amp, and anti-theft system, six-way power driver's seat, Seating Comfort Package with heated front seats and six-way power passenger seat, driver information center with trip computer, outside temperature display, Homelink programmable garage door opener, and anti-theft alarm system, OnStar with one-year Safe and Sound plan, dual power heated mirrors, air filtration system, front and rear floor mats, cargo net, electrochromic rear-view mirror with dual reading lights, power heated exterior mirrors; leather accent bucket seats ($625); Competition Yellow Appearance Package ($995) includes unique 16-inch wheels, rear spoiler, bright stainless steel exhaust tip, black name plates and pin striping, yellow-on-black floor mats
Destination charge: ($635)
Gas guzzler tax: N/A
Price as tested (MSRP): $27,270
Layout: front-wheel drive
Engine: 3.8-liter ohv 12-valve V6
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 200 @ 5200
Torque (lb.-ft. @ rpm): 225 @ 4000
Transmission: 4-speed automatic
EPA fuel economy, city/hwy: 20/30 mpg
Wheelbase: 110.5 in.
Length/width/height: 197.9/72.3/55.2 in.
Track, f/r: 62.1/61.2 in.
Turning circle: 38.0 ft.
Seating capacity: 5
Head/hip/leg room, f: 38.1/55.2/42.4 in.
Head/hip/leg room, m: N/A
Head/hip/leg room, r: 36.5/55.5/35.8 in.
Trunk volume: 15.8 cu. ft.
Payload: N/A
Towing capacity: 1000 Lbs.
Suspension, f: independent
Suspension, r: independent
Ground clearance: N/A
Curb weight: 3391 lbs.
Tires: P225/60R16
Brakes, f/r: disc/disc with ABS
Fuel capacity: 17.0 gal.


Unless otherwise indicated, specifications refer to test vehicle.
All prices are manufacturer's suggested retail prices (MSRP) effective as of May 10, 2002.
Prices do not include manufacturer's destination and delivery charges. N/A: Information not available or not applicable.
Manufacturer Info Sources: 1-800-222-1020 - www.chevrolet.com


Copyright © 1994-2003 New Car Test Drive, Inc.


Printable Version

2003 Chevrolet Monte Carlo Coupe

Safety Ratings help

What do the Safety Ratings mean?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) performs independent crash testing of new vehicles and then assigns them a score based on their performance. The overall crash test rating is based on how a vehicle performs in the following tests:

Driver Crash Grade:

Measures the chance of a serious injury to a crash test dummy that is placed in a driver's seat and driven into a fixed barrier at 35 MPH. A five-star rating means there is 10 percent or less chance of injury.

Passenger Crash Grade:

Similar to the driver crash grade, only now the focus is on the passenger.

Rollover Resistance:

Simulates an emergency lane change to measure the likelihood of a vehicle rolling over. A five-star rating means there is 10 percent or less risk of rollover.

Side Impact Crash Test - Front:

Focuses on the front side of a vehicle. It simulates crashes that can occur in intersections by striking a 3,015-pound weight against the side of a vehicle at 38.5 MPH. A five-star rating means there is 5 percent or less chance of injury.

Side Impact Crash Test - Rear:

Similar to the front side impact test only now the focus is on the rear passenger.

Driver Crash Grade

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Passenger Crash Grade

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Rollover Resistance

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Side Impact Crash Test - Front

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Side Impact Crash Test - Rear

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Safety Features & Equipment

Braking & Traction

4-Wheel ABS Std
Traction/Stability Control Std
Tire Pressure Monitoring System Std

Passenger Restraint

Driver Air Bag Std
Passenger Air Bag Std
Side Air Bag Opt

Road Visibility

Daytime Running Lights Std
Fog Lamps Std
Electrochromic Rearview Mirror Opt
Intermittent Wipers Std


Anti-theft System Std
Telematics Opt
Printable Version

2003 Chevrolet Monte Carlo Coupe

Original Warranty  help
Original Warranty
An original warranty is the warranty associated with a vehicle when it is brand new. In addition to the original warranty, select items, like tires, are typically covered by respective manufacturers. Also, an act of Federal law sometimes provides protection for certain components, like emissions equipment.
The original warranty is often broken down into multiple sections, including:
Basic Warranty:
Typically covers everything except for parts that wear out through normal use of the vehicle. Examples of non-covered items are brake pads, wiper blades and filters.
Drivetrain Warranty:
This warranty covers items the basic warranty does not protect. Wear and tear items such as hoses will not be covered, but key items like the engine, transmission, drive axles and driveshaft often will be.
Roadside Assistance:
The level of service differs greatly with this warranty, but many manufacturers offer a toll-free number that helps provide assistance in case you run out of gas, get a flat tire or lock your keys in the car.
Corrosion Warranty:
This warranty focuses on protecting you from holes caused by rust or corrosion in your vehicle's sheet metal.
Please check the owner's manual, visit a local dealership or look at the manufacturer's website to learn more about the specifics of the warranties that apply to a vehicle.

Basic 3 Years/36,000 Miles
Drivetrain 3 Years/36,000 Miles
Corrosion 6 Years/100,000 Miles
Roadside Assistance 3 Years/36,000 Miles

Chevrolet Certified Pre-Owned Warranty  help
Certified Pre-Owned Warranty
To be eligible for Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) status, vehicles generally must be recent models with relatively low mileage. CPO vehicles must also pass a detailed inspection, outlined by the manufacturer, which is measured by the number of inspected points.
Warranty coverage can vary from one manufacturer to the next. While most certified pre-owned programs transfer and extend the existing new car warranty terms, others offer a warranty that simply represents an additional year and mileage value. Always check with the manufacturer for the specific warranties they offer.
Common features and benefits of Certified Pre-Owned warranties include:
Age/Mileage Eligibility
To even be considered for certification, a car must be a recent model year and have limited mileage. The exact requirements are established by individual manufacturers.
Lease Term Certified
Some manufacturers offer certified pre-owned cars for lease. The length of the lease is often shorter than a new car lease, but it will cost you less.
Point Inspection
These inspections entail a comprehensive vehicle test to ensure that all parts are in excellent working order. The point inspection list is simply a numbered list of exactly what parts of the car are examined. While many inspections range from a 70- to 150-point checklist, most are very similar and are performed using strict guidelines. Ask your local dealer about specific details.
Return/Exchange Program
Some manufacturers offer a very limited return or exchange period. Find out if you will get the sales tax and licensing/registration fees back should you return or exchange the car.
Roadside Assistance
Most certified pre-owned programs offer free roadside service in case your car breaks down while still under warranty.
Special Financing
Reduced-rate loans are available through many certified pre-owned programs. Manufacturer-backed inspections and warranties help eliminate the risks involved with buying pre-owned, so buyers who qualify can take advantage of the great offers.
Transferable Warranty
When a new car warranty transfers with the certification of the car and remains eligible for the next owner, it is known as a transferable warranty. Once the original transferable warranty expires, an extended warranty takes effect.
Warranty Deductible
This is the amount for which you are responsible when repair work is performed under the warranty. Some manufacturers require a deductible while others don't, so always ask.

2-Year/24,000-Mile1 CPO Scheduled Maintenance Plan.

12-Month/12,000-Mile2 Bumper-to-Bumper Limited Warranty.

5-year/100,000-Mile3 Powertrain Limited Warranty.

1Covers only scheduled oil changes with filter, tire rotations and 27 point inspections, according to your vehicle's recommended maintenance schedule for up to 2 years or 24,000 miles, whichever comes first. Does not include air filters. Maximum of 4 service events. See participating dealer for other restrictions and complete details.

2Whichever comes first from date of purchase. See participating dealer for limited warranty details.

3Whichever comes first from original in-service date. See participating dealers for limited warranty details.
Age/Mileage Eligibility 2009-2014 model year / Under 75,000 miles
Lease Term Certified No
Point Inspection 172-Point Vehicle Inspection and Reconditioning
Download checklist
Return/Exchange Program 3-Day 150-Mile Satisfaction Guarantee
Roadside Assistance Yes
Transferrable Warranty Yes
Warranty Deductible $0

Learn more about certified pre-owned vehicles

Printable Version

2003 Chevrolet Monte Carlo Coupe

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