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By Jim Flammang
December 6, 2005
Vehicle Overview Attesting to its offroad prowess, Mitsubishi's largest sport utility vehicle has dominated recent Paris-to-Dakar rallies. In addition to the Montero, Mitsubishi also produces the slightly smaller midsize Endeavor and the compact Outlander. All of Mitsubishi's SUVs have suffered from sluggish sales lately.
For 2006, only a Limited model is offered. Other than a smaller selection of color choices, nothing has changed for the 2006 model year.
Exterior Not much in the Montero's appearance has changed since it was updated in 2003. Changes then included a restyled grille, new integrated side steps and fresh bodyside cladding. The front and rear ends have a rounded profile, and the Montero has minimal overhangs.
Measuring 190.2 inches long overall on a 109.7-inch wheelbase, the four-door Montero is comparable in size to the Endeavor but nearly 2 inches taller. A full-size spare tire sits on the tailgate, and a power sunroof, tire-pressure-monitoring system and 17-inch alloy wheels are standard.
Monteros have a fully independent front and rear suspension, which Mitsubishi says is a benefit for offroad travel. Illuminated running boards, flip-open third-row windows, rear privacy glass and door-mounted puddle lamps are standard. A removable tool kit includes a flashlight.
Interior The Montero seats up to seven people using two front buckets, a folding three-person middle bench seat and a removable two-place rear seat that folds flat into the floor.
The SUV comes standard with leather first- and second-row seating surfaces, a leather- and wood-trimmed steering wheel, imitation wood accents, heated front seats, a 14-way adjustable driver's seat, heated mirrors and six passenger-assist grips. Rear air conditioning is included. The 315-watt Mitsubishi/Infinity sound system includes a six-CD changer.
A backseat DVD entertainment system is optional. Maximum cargo space totals 91.7 cubic feet, but drops to 39.8 cubic feet when all the seats are in their upright position.
Under the Hood The Montero's 3.8-liter V-6 produces 215 horsepower and 248 pounds-feet of torque. The V-6 teams with a five-speed Sportronic automatic transmission that permits manually selected gear changes. Four-wheel drive with a Low range and a locking center differential is standard.
Safety All-disc antilock brakes, traction control, an electronic stability system and seat-mounted side-impact airbags for the front seats are standard.
Driving Impressions Though it is capable for ordinary driving and built for offroad prowess, Mitsubishi's flagship SUV has an old-fashioned feel to it. The Montero's excessive size and trucklike sounds won't appeal to buyers who prefer a more modern — and perhaps smaller — SUV. The Montero's rally racing dominance is an interesting aside, but won't matter much to most SUV buyers unless they plan to engage in serious offroad driving.