With every year that passes, the big, gas eating North American Pickups are starting to fade due to their high costs of ownership. A more efficient alternative to these vehicles, could be the compact pickup trucks which are usually based on small passenger cars.
The Montana (also known as the Tornado) is part of this class and is sold by Chevrolet on the South American and other emergent markets. The vehicle is basically a two door ute which is built on the same platform as the Chevrolet Agile hatchback.
It’s clearly not as capable as its full sized siblings, but it has the same hard worker character as any other utility vehicle. The latest generation was launched in 2011 and the vehicle can deal with a maximum load of up to 734 kg.
Power comes from a 1.8L MPFI, 4-cilynder engine and pricing starts at $18,720 for the entry-level version.
The new generation Chevy Montana features a pretty modern design and we like its futuristic style. Though, some purists consider that the fancy exterior design is a bit too curvy to be a good match for the utilitarian nature of the vehicle and we tend to agree with them.
As usually, the biggest exterior modification made to the 2011 generation can be found up front, were the Montana features a totally new nose complete with a set of big headlights which come with a nice, sharp design.
The grille looks also pretty modern and follows the latest design language created by Chevrolet. The bumper is nicely integrated into the front fascia and features a series of curved lines which give it a fluid appearance.
The front and rear wheel arches are pretty muscular and give the vehicle a purposeful look, while the rear tailgate design is also pretty modern.
Around the back there is a pretty generous load bed which measures 1680 mm long and 1340 mm wide. The side walls are tall, and there are neatly integrated steps behind the B-pillar to make loading and unloading easier.
The 2011 Montana cabin was completely redesigned and the now features of the most modern designs available in the compact pickups segment. The materials are also slightly better than average and the build quality is part of the high class as well.
Given the relatively compact exterior dimensions, the cabin is pretty spacious and you are treated with a fair amount of leg and head room.
The modern center console is fitted with four huge round air vents and features a series of shiny metallic inserts which give the cabin a sporty feel. The audio system and the various indicators are highlighted in a nice icy blue light which further enhances the modern looks of the cabin.
Ergonomy is part of the high class and every control is fairly easy to reach. We especially like the sporty instrument panel which comes with a unique design that looks much better than anything else seen in this segment.
The seats are surprisingly comfortable and supportive and you’ll barely find anything to complain about. There are also offered enough adjustments to keep you happy. The steering wheel is pretty simple, but it offers a confident grab and it’s not intrusive.
The road visibility is at par with what you’d usually find in this class and you won’t be disappointed by the big, lateral mirrors either.
The cab is also fitted with a bunch of useful storage places, but there is no useable space behind the seats.
Engines and performance
At the heart of the Chevrolet Montana sits a new 1.8 liter SOHC 4 cylinder engine which delivers 105 hp at 5400 rpm and 120 lb.ft of torque at 3000 rpm. The engine is a bit lazy for our tastes, but it can hit 100 kmph in around 12 seconds which isn’t that bad for a utility vehicle.
The good part however, is the low fuel consumption and the Montana rewards you with a highway mileage of 30mpg.
Despite its relatively small engine, the vehicle is a fairly practical work horse as it can haul up to 734 kg which is at par with the same performance offered by the bigger, two wheel drive Dodge Ram 1500 equipped with a 5.7 liter V8 engine.
The Montana’s engine is mated on a five speed manual transmission which is pretty smooth and offers a decent response.
Overall, the Montana feels pretty refined for a utilitarian vehicle. The engine rumbles a bit when it’s working hard but only little vibrations and road noise enters the cabin.
Chevrolet Montana Engines Specifications
|Engine||hp @ rpm||lb.ft @ rpm|
|1.8 liter SOHC||105 @ 5400||120 @ 3000|
Ride and handling
The Chevy Montana gets independent McPherson front suspension with stabilizer bar and rear semi-independent suspension with torsion beam.
As it was expected the ride isn’t as comfortable as the one from a compact hatchback but it’s not too far from it either, as it can keep your back safe from most of the road bumps.
The handling is pretty good and there is small body lean in corners. The steering is pretty sharp as well, but you have to make plenty of adjustments on the motorway.
The 2011 Chevrolet Montana is one of the most modern compact pickups you’ll find in the segment. The interior is nothing short of excellent and the cabin refinement is certainly a class above most of its rivals. The ride and handling are pretty good too and the vehicle is priced pretty competitively, as well.
The compact pickup truck comes also with the most generous payload capacity in its segment and the 1.8 liter engine is pretty smooth and efficient. Though some extra power would’ve been welcomed.