Vehicle Overview
Mitsubishi’s largest sport utility vehicle earned a larger, more powerful 3.8-liter V-6 engine, additional safety features and a freshened appearance in 2003. When it was redesigned as an early 2001 model, the Montero 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 midsize Montero Sport and the compact Outlander. Sales of the seven-passenger Montero have been well below those of the Montero Sport, which seats five people.

A tire-pressure monitor is new for the 2004 model year, and white-faced gauges are installed. Side-impact airbags are now available on the XLS model, and a backseat entertainment system is newly optional. Mitsubishi says that the new white-faced gauge cluster delivers a sportier interior appearance.

Regular XLS and upscale Limited models are offered for 2004. Mitsubishi has also added the Endeavor crossover SUV to its 2004 lineup.

Last year’s subtle freshening included a restyled grille, new integrated side steps and fresh bodyside cladding. Rounded in profile in the front and rear, the Montero has minimal body overhangs. Measuring 190.2 inches long overall on a 109.5-inch wheelbase, the four-door Montero is approximately 9 inches longer and nearly 5 inches taller than the Montero Sport. A full-size spare tire sits on the tailgate.

The Montero has a fully independent front and rear suspension, which Mitsubishi claims is a benefit for offroad travel. The base XL model comes with color-keyed fog-lamp hole covers, while the more plush Limited edition features integrated fog lamps and illuminated running boards.

All Monteros seat seven people in two front buckets, a folding three-person middle bench seat and a removable two-place rear seat that folds flat into the floor. 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 leather upholstery and a 350-watt Mitsubishi/Infinity sound system. Either a rear-seat entertainment system or a sunroof may be installed, but not both.

Under the Hood
Mitsubishi’s 3.8-liter V-6 engine produces 215 horsepower and 248 pounds-feet of torque. Operating with a throttle-by-wire system, the V-6 teams with a five-speed Sportronic automatic transmission that permits manually selected gear changes.

ActiveTrac lets the driver select two-wheel drive, all-wheel drive or four-wheel drive, with Low and High locked settings. All models have an anti-skid system with active traction control.

Antilock brakes and side-impact airbags are standard on both models.

Driving Impressions
Though it is capable for ordinary driving and built for offroad prowess, Mitsubishi’s flagship SUV has an old-fashioned feeling about it. The Montero’s excessive size and trucklike sounds won’t appeal to buyers who might prefer a more modern, perhaps smaller model.