Vehicle Overview from Kelley Blue Book
KBB.com 2003 Mitsubishi Montero Overview
Soft Inside, Tough Off-Road
Mitsubishi's top-of-the-line SUV is the Montero. Not to be confused with the Montero Sport which is an entirely different vehicle, the Montero is a tall, roomy, very well equipped SUV that could use a little more engine and a little less weight. It offers seating for seven, with a clever third-row seat that flips and folds into the rear floor. There is plenty of headroom even for the tallest passengers, but leg room is only average for both front and rear seat occupants.
The Montero is available in two trim levels, XLS and Limited. Both models come standard with 4WD and a new 3.8-liter V6 engine that makes 215-horsepower. The XLS is equipped with a four-speed automatic transmission and the Limited gets a slick five-speed automatic with Sportronic shift that allows the driver to manually shift gears without the aid of a clutch. The Limited also gets an upgraded 4WD system that includes an AWD mode for all driving conditions while retaining a hi-low transfer case for true off-road adventures.
Interior appointments leave little to be desired, with a myriad of high-tech electronics (like the cool graphic compass in the center dash) and one of the biggest sunroofs in the business. The front seats are very comfortable with electric-adjustable height and lumbar support. Passengers in the center-row seat also get a pretty comfortable bench, but some did complain that the seat bottoms were too short. We also were not impressed by the faceplate on the otherwise excellent stereo system. It looked as if it were pulled from the dash of an entry-level car and seemed out of place in the upscale interior surroundings.
On the road, the new V6 pulls much better than the previous year's V6. Its additional low-end torque greatly improves the way the Montero moves off the line. The new V6 still has its work cut out for it because the Montero tips the scales at just over 4500-pounds; most other SUVs in this weight category offer a V8 engine. The Montero is one of the few SUVs that employs unibody construction, which increases rigidity and keeps its weight from ballooning even further. While we found the vehicle to feel balanced on the highway, sharp turns and sudden emergency lane changes did cause the Montero's back end to do a little dance before coming back in line with the front of the vehicle. Blame the tire's tall sidewall for the odd motion. Still, if you can afford the steep price tag, and are attracted to the unique styling, the Montero should be on the A-list of anyone shopping this market segment.