Vehicle Overview from Kelley Blue Book
KBB.com 2003 Mitsubishi Montero Sport Overview
Not too Hot and Not too Cold
Remember the tale of Goldilocks and the Three Bears? Well substitute the bowls of porridge with the various types of SUVs currently on the market and you'll have a better understanding for the title of this piece. There are SUVs that are so big you'd think they'd require a special license to drive them and there are the little tiny "trucklets" that fancy themselves an SUV, but are really not qualified when it comes to true off-road adventuring. Then there is the Montero Sport, which is not too big and not too small, and like that middle bowl of Quaker Oatsor whatever bears eatis just right.
Most people who see the Montero Sport agree that it is definitely a looker. Augmenting the Montero Sport's rugged good looks are black flush-mounted privacy glass panels that cover the rear-side windows and tailgate. If you are the type that appreciates the beauty of a clean design without additional clutter, you will no doubt find a friend in the Montero Sport; the lack of heavy body-cladding, an aggressive front grille and widely-flared wheel arches make a definitive statement about how to be subtle yet effective.
The Montero Sport is available in four trims: ES, LS, XLS and Limited. The ES and LS share the same suspension, engine and transmission but are separated by differing content levels. Power for these two trims comes from a 3.0-liter V6 engine that produces 165 horsepower; a four-speed automatic transmission is standard. The 3.0-liter may surprise you in the way it pulls and accelerates. Though its horsepower rating is not considered high, it has a fairly hefty amount of torque that comes on strong around 4000 rpm. The engine's power is most evident when towing or accelerating up steep hills. When equipped with this power plant, the Montero Sport cannot be described as quick so much as constant; once the power comes on, it stays put until you let off the throttle.
The XLS and Limited models also share the same underpinnings but have a larger, more powerful V6 engine. Rated at 197-horsepower and with 223 lbs.-ft of torque, the 3.5-liter engine give the XLS and Limited better passing and off-the-line acceleration than the ES or LS; it also seems better suited to dealing with the extra weight the AWD (All-Wheel Drive) system adds as well as that of the many electronic goodies designed to increase passenger comfort.
Speaking of four-wheel drive, you will be happy to know that Montero Sport offers both two- and four-wheel drive versions of each trim level. The AWD drive setup on the Montero Sport is nowhere near as complicated as that of its big brother the Montero, but its simplicity is also one of the reasons the system works so well. When the AWD is engaged, the vehicle remains driven by its rear wheels. If one or more of the wheels should slip, a viscous-coupling center differential sends power to the front wheels, temporarily engaging the AWD until traction has returned to the rears. The AWD system also includes a 4WD high/low transfer case that allows you to lock all four wheels in gear; this application is best used at low speeds and is not intended for use on paved roads. You should note that if you intend to buy a 2WD SUV, the XLS and Limited offer a limited-slip rear differential that also aids in improving traction. Most 2WD SUVs are driven by only one wheel and do not offer a limited-slip differential.
On the road, the Montero Sport delivers a surprisingly pleasant ride. Expansion joints usually make their presence known in this type of vehicle, but the Montero Sport sails right over them with hardly a shudder. Wind and road noise are evident but not obnoxiously so and the comfortable seats and excellent sound system contribute to making the Montero Sport's interior a pleasant place to be. You and your passengers will find respectable amounts of legroom both front and rear, and Mitsubishi has raised the Montero Sport's roof line to improve the headroom situation which up until now as been rather tight for those over 6-feet in height.
Some of the standard features you'll find on the Montero Sport include air conditioning, center and overhead consoles, rear-window defroster, anti-theft engine immobilizer, power outside mirrors, roof rails, three power outlets, skid plates for the front end, fuel tank and transfer case (AWD models only), power windows, front and rear tow hooks, AM/FM stereo with CD and a rear-window wiper. LS, XLS and Limited models add even more content with the option list shrinking as you move up the line.