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Expert Reviews 1 of 4
By Jim Flammang
February 27, 2002
Vehicle Overview Unlike the bigger, seven-passenger Mitsubishi Montero, the midsize Montero Sport seats five occupants. The Montero Sport sees several changes for 2002. The 197-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 engine is now standard on the XLS and Limited models, while ES and LS models retain the 3.0-liter V-6 power plant.
A new ALL4-wheel drive (A4WD) system operates full-time but has a choice of part-time operation in either High or Low range. A new Appearance Package is available for the low-end ES, the LS gains 16-inch alloy wheels and the top-of-the-line Limited wears a new color-keyed grille. ES, LS and XLS models add a tube-type side step. The 3.5XS special edition model will not be available for 2002.
Currently built on a truck chassis, the Montero Sport will likely be redesigned for the 2004 model year for sale in 2003. Possibly produced in Illinois rather than Japan, the new version may be car-based with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive.
Exterior At 181 inches long overall, the Montero Sport is about 8 inches shorter than the regular Montero, which is more upright and angular in appearance. The Montero Sport is a little more rounded, with standard fender flares and running boards. The Sport rides a 107.3-inch wheelbase and measures 70 inches wide, and its 68.3-inch height gives it a lower profile than the regular Montero. At the rear is a clamshell-type tailgate with a flip-up window on the top and a drop-down tailgate below.
Interior With a five-occupant capacity, the Montero Sport has front bucket seats and a three-person rear seat that reclines and folds forward, yielding a maximum cargo space of 79 cubic feet. The step-up Limited model has a sunroof, heated mirrors and front seats, and leather upholstery.
Under the Hood ES and LE models have a 173-hp, 3.0-liter V-6 engine, while a 197-hp, 3.5-liter V-6 goes into the XLS and Limited versions. All Montero Sports use a four-speed-automatic transmission and can have either rear-drive or four-wheel drive, which includes a Low range but is not suitable for use on dry pavement. Montero Sport 4x4s and the 2WD Limited come with antilock brakes.
Driving Impressions Is it a truck or isnt it? Constructed like a truck, the Montero Sport should feel like one. Because it steers, handles and rides with exceptional lightness, the carlike sensations seem a little out of place. Otherwise, this SUV does all its supposed to in a competent manner.
Despite its midsize dimensions, the interior feels slightly cramped. Entry into the drivers seat is tougher than expected; its necessary to duck your head considerably to get in. Seat controls are confusing and headroom isnt the most ample, but occupants are likely to feel comfortable.
Running quietly with minimal road and wind noise, the Montero Sport responds eagerly to a light push on the gas pedal. The automatic transmission also reacts well, without any awkwardness. Quite a bit of body motion is evident, though its limited in range even on moderately rough pavements.