Mitsubishi Endeavor -- 2004 Review: Psychologists generally believe that the expression of individuality is healthy, an outlet for building one’s identity. In society, people tell the world who they are through their manner of speech, the clothes they choose to wear, the place they select to live, the way they furnish a dwelling, and the car they drive every day.
Of course, not everybody wants the world to know who he or she is. Introverts, as these people are commonly known, shun the spotlight, avoid attention, and keep to the shadows of life. They speak plainly, wear simple clothing, live in non-descript suburbs, fill their homes with mass-produced Pottery Barn trinkets, and drive Toyota Camrys. What they sometimes don’t realize, however, is that by essentially saying nothing, they’re really saying everything.
Radical design, inside and out
Wallflowers might not like the radically styled new Mitsubishi Endeavor, a crossover suv that is much too distinctive for civilized society. Sporting styling themes from Mitsubishi’s gritty geo-mechanical futuristic design vocabulary (see Eclipse) combined with a misguided vision to adorn all of the company’s products with bulbous split-grille noses and ginormous corporate logos, the Endeavor is a visually distressing hodgepodge of metal, glass, and plastic.
Inside, the industrial, in-your-face look continues, funky but ergonomically sound except for the location of the stereo and climate control display on the top of the center stack far away from system controls. Look past the cabin’s busy appearance, and you’ll see that Mitsubishi actually has simplified construction by minimizing individual panels for improved fit and finish.
Unfortunately, this simplification of design didn’t lead to an improvement in the build quality of our test Endeavor, which suffered a poorly fit glovebox door, a driver airbag cover skewed off-center, and sloppy headliner attachment at the sunroof. Furthermore, Mitsubishi could employ better quality materials with which to construct the cabin. Too many parts of the interior exhibit a cheap gloss, from the switchgear on the door panels to the upper dash pad. Other gripes include the fuzzy headliner material, the silver plastic trim that has no hope of winning an Oscar for impersonating real aluminum, and the unfinished edge on the dash trim where it met the dash display screen. Unforgivably, our test vehicle, an Endeavor XLS with a sticker price of more than $30,000, had a urethane steering wheel. We think leather ought to be wrapping the tiller at this price, don’t you?
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Endeavor is one of the best Mitsubishis ever
Now that we’ve voiced most of our complaints about the Mitsubishi Endeavor, we can report that the rest of the vehicle generally exceeded our expectations, and with the exception of the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, the Endeavor is the best vehicle that this struggling Japanese automaker produces today.
Strong V6 Engine
Genuinely fun to drive, the Mitsubishi Endeavor is constructed upon a common platform shared with the Galant sedan and the upcoming 2006 Eclipse sport coupe. Under the hood resides a 3.8-liter V6 engine, producing 215 horsepower at 5,000 rpm and 250 lb.-ft. of torque at 3,750 rpm. A four-speed automatic transmission with Sportronic shift control is standard, driving the front or all four wheels. Our test vehicle did not have the available full-time all-wheel-drive system, which splits engine torque 50:50 front and rear.
Though this relatively unsophisticated single overhead cam engine, crafted with a heavy cast iron block topped by lightweight aluminum heads, is not a state-of-the-art powerplant, it nonetheless produces enough power to motivate the 4,000-pound Endeavor (give or take 150 pounds depending on trim and drivetrain) with what feels like verve thanks to generous torque and good mid-range punch. Note, however, that the Endeavor delivers power somewhat coarsely, and models with front-wheel-drive suffer torque steer. Also, while the engine feels strong, Mitsubishi’s numbers tell a different story: The company says the lightest Endeavor will make it to 60 mph in about 9.5 seconds. The EPA says our test Mitsubishi Endeavor XLS should have returned 17 mpg in the city and 23 on the highway. We averaged 19.4 mpg during our testing.
Standard Sportronic automatic transmission
Getting the power to the pavement, the Endeavor’s four-speed automatic transmission occasionally shifts harshly when moving the selector out of park or between reverse and drive. And despite grade logic control, the transmission also has trouble deciding when to shift when climbing hills. Better to use the Sportronic manual shift mode for mountain motoring, which quickly snaps off gearchanges. Around town, when driving the way most people do, the Endeavor’s transmission goes about its business without fanfare.
Suspension, sterring and brakes
Like a traditional passenger car, the Mitsubishi Endeavor rides on a four-wheel-independent suspension, comprised of MacPherson struts in front and a multi-link design in the rear that employs low strut mounting points to ensure a flat cargo load floor. Guiding the P235/65R17 Bridgestone Turanza EL 42 tires is a rack-and-pinion steering system, and Mitsubishi uses ventilated front and solid rear disc brakes to stop the Endeavor. ABS is standard on models with AWD, as well as the Limited FWD, and a stability control system with traction control is optional on the Endeavor Limited.
Brakes fade under heavy use
Our Endeavor XLS test vehicle came equipped with ABS, which is bundled in the Security Plus package with an anti-theft alarm and side-impact airbags for the front seat occupants. During heavy, prolonged use on downhill mountain roads, the brakes faded moderately, but otherwise performed flawlessly. The brake pedal feels good underfoot, and is quite easy to modulate.
Tossable hanlding for an SUV
Better was the Endeavor’s handling, in which Mitsubishi’s rally-car heritage shines through. Almost tossable, the Endeavor is nimble and responsive on twisty backroads and in the urban jungle alike. The steering is a tad numb on center, but crisp and precise once the wheel starts turning. Pushed hard, the Endeavor tends toward understeer; otherwise, it’s comfortably neutral and very light on its feet.
Smooth ride quality
Ride quality, too, is agreeable. Smoother than most SUVs we’ve driven, the Mitsubishi Endeavor soaked up all manner of pock-marked Los Angeles city streets and rippled California freeways during our one-week test drive. If an unfettered ride down the road is high on your list of must-haves, the Endeavor delivers.
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