Mitsubishi’s largest midsize sport utility vehicle earned a larger, more powerful 3.8-liter V-6, additional safety features and a freshened appearance for 2003. When it was redesigned two years earlier, the Montero switched from a truck-based structure to carlike unibody construction.
Attesting to their offroad prowess, Monteros have dominated recent Paris-to-Dakar rallies. Mitsubishi also produces the midsize Endeavor and compact Outlander. Mitsubishi has suffered from sluggish sales lately.
The lower-priced XLS has been discontinued, so only the Limited edition is available for 2005. A tire-pressure monitor is now standard, and new 17-inch alloy wheels are installed.
The updates in 2003 included a restyled grille, new integrated side steps and fresh bodyside cladding. The front and rear have a rounded profile. The Montero has minimal body 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 to the top of its roof rails. A full-size spare tire sits on the tailgate, and a power sunroof is standard.
The Montero has a fully independent front and rear suspension, which Mitsubishi claims 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 toolbox includes a flashlight.
The Montero seats up to seven occupants using two front buckets, a folding three-person middle bench seat and a removable two-place rear seat that folds flat into the floor. Leather seating surfaces, a leather- and wood-trimmed steering wheel, woodgrain accents, heated front seats, a 14-way adjustable driver’s seat, heated mirrors and six passenger-assist grips are standard. 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 that drops to 39.8 cubic feet when all the seats are in their upright position.
The Montero’s 3.8-liter V-6 produces 215 horsepower and 248 pounds-feet of torque. Operating with throttle-by-wire control, the V-6 teams with a five-speed-automatic transmission that permits manually selected gear changes. Four-wheel drive with a Low range is standard.
All-disc antilock brakes, traction control and side-impact airbags are standard.
Though it is capable for ordinary driving and built for offroad prowess, Mitsubishi’s flagship SUV has an old-fashioned feeling. The Montero’s excessive size and trucklike sounds won’t appeal to buyers who prefer a more modern — and perhaps smaller — model.