Mitsubishis largest sport utility vehicle gets a larger, more powerful 3.8-liter V-6 engine, additional safety features and a freshened appearance for the 2003 model year. When redesigned as an early 2001 model, this flagship SUV switched from a truck-based structure to carlike unibody construction. Attesting to their offroad prowess, Monteros have dominated recent Dakar rallies. Mitsubishi also produces the smaller Montero Sport, and the Japanese automaker has introduced an even smaller SUV, called the Outlander, as a 2003 model.
The Monteros styling refinements are subtle. A redesigned grille features chrome inner accents, and the taillights have been revised. New features include bodyside cladding, integrated side steps and a spare-tire cover. A 20th anniversary edition of the Montero will be introduced in the fall of 2002.
Montero sales have been more modest than those of the Montero Sport. According to Automotive News, 24,802 Monteros were sold in the United States during 2001 up from 21,578 units in the previous year while 61,093 Montero Sports went out the door.
Other than the modest enhancements mentioned above, the 2003 Montero looks similar to its predecessor. The Montero has a fully independent front and rear suspension that Mitsubishi claims is a benefit for offroad travel. The base XL comes with color-keyed fog-lamp hole covers, while the more plush Limited edition features integrated fog lamps and illuminated running boards.
Rounded in profile in the front and rear, the Montero has minimal body overhangs. The four-door SUV is approximately 8 inches longer and nearly 5 inches taller than the Montero Sport. A full-size spare tire sits on the tailgate.
All Monteros seat seven occupants in two front buckets, a three-person middle bench that folds, and a removable, two-place rear seat that folds flat into the floor. Sportier interior fabric is used in the 2003 model. The XL has a 140-watt CD audio system. An optional Touring Package includes suedelike seat trim, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a power glass sunroof and rear air conditioning. The Limited adds a 350-watt Mitsubishi/Infinity sound system.
Under the Hood
Figures have not yet been released, but Mitsubishi says the new 3.8-liter V-6 engine will produce more power and torque than the 200-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 it replaces. A new throttle-by-wire system will be used. The V-6 teams with a five-speed Sportronic automatic transmission that permits manually selected gear changes. In 2002, that transmission was offered only on the Limited model.
ActiveTrac lets the driver select two-wheel drive, all-wheel drive or four-wheel drive, with Low and High locked settings. All models get active traction control.
Like the 2002 model, the new Montero is expected to come equipped with standard antilock brakes and side-impact airbags.