Montero regains midsize SUV leadership


Story & photos by Patrick P. Tulfo

JUST a few months shy of the debut of the current Montero model, Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corp. (MMPC) faced probably what could be its biggest debacle yet.

All controls are logically placed and within the driver’s reach.

It will be recalled that the issue, known as “Sudden Unintended Acceleration” (SUA), beset the previous Montero model toward the tail end of 2015.

The issue was so severe that Mitsubishi voluntarily bought back several affected models, conducted their own investigation and, before the year ended, they revealed the result in a news conference attended by company’s top brass no less. Based on their findings, the so-called SUA may have been caused by human error.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), which also conducted a separate probe with the cooperation of MMPC, had the same conclusion. Another investigation conducted by an independent testing agency in Japan showed the same findings and, by the time the result was released to the public, Mitsubishi had already introduced the current Montero.

The latest Montero Sport or QE series represents the third generation of the said model having been introduced in 1996—with the first generation carrying different names, such as Challenger, Pajero Sport, Shogun Sport, Strada G-Wagon and Nativa, depending on which country it was marketed.

The leaves in the middle encourage drivers to drive sedately.

The second generation (2008-2016) saw the removal of Challenger nameplate on the list and the Strada G-Wagon (Thailand), while retaining the Montero Sport, Pajero Sport, Nativa and Pajero Dakar nomenclatures.

And for the latest iteration of this successful sport-utility vehicle (SUV), it now carries two model names—Pajero Sport and Montero Sport.

The current Montero Sport in the country was unveiled in January of last year. Its introduction was met with skepticism by some quarters, who were not satisfied with the findings of MMPC on SUA issue, but it sold well nonetheless.

The GLS Premium 2wd variant is a head turner, even though it’s now a regular fixture on our road nowadays. The most striking feature is its front fascia, which Mitsubishi calls “Dynamic Shield Concept”. The futuristic-looking front chrome grille set melds beautifully with the bumper.  The sleek-looking headlamps with Daytime Running Lights (DRLs), now feature LED bulbs (GT, GLS 4WD, GLS Premium) for better visibility on the road at night. The whole package is capped off with a pair of fog lamps underneath the stylish grille on the front bumper.

The 4N51 diesel engine has replaced the 4D56 that powered the previous model.

Meanwhile, the side profile looks sharp with nicely sculpted front and rear fenders that doesn’t only look good but enhances aerodynamics, as well. The design, according to Mitsubishi, contributes to a 13-percent reduction in coefficient drag overall, thereby enhancing fuel economy further.

The rear features a pair of love-it-or-hate-it droopy tail lights design that reminds one of the reach-for-the-sky tail lights on the Volvo Station wagon back in 1990s. The third brake lamp on the rear glass is hardly noticeable, as most eyes will be glued on the artsy tail lamps.

Inside are leather clad seats in black, which also be found on all doors, as well. The controls are all well-placed within the drivers reach, while the information display between the speedometer and tachometer features an amusing five leaves setup that all turn green if the SUV is driven sedately.

The six-speaker multimedia entertainment system has smartphone mirroring function that displays your phone screen on the 6.75-inch touchscreen. It plays DVD’s, MP3s, MPEG 4s and is iPod compatible, as well. it also has auxiliary and USB ports and Bluetooth connectivity for hands-free operation of your smartphones. The Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) can also be viewed here.

The multimedia entertainment system can also be accessed via controls on the thick steering wheel, which also houses the cruise control, and the magnesium alloy paddle shifters behind it.

The dual-zone climate control cools the cabin quickly and efficiently with all the passengers getting their own vents. The third-row seat of this seven-seater SUV is surprisingly roomy as long as the passenger no more than 5’7″ inches tall, the only problem is they seat low on the floor.

Other noteworthy features are three-charging outlets located throughout the cabin for power hungry gadgets of all passengers.

The all-new 4N51 engine that motivates the Montero Sport pumps out an impressive 181 horsepower and 430 Nm of torque. Aside from the Variable Geometry Turbo (VGT), it features Mitsubishi’s own Mivec system (Mitsubishi Innovative Valve Timing and Electronic Control). Power delivery can be likened to gasoline engine with absence of turbo kick that’s common with the old 4D56 engine that powered the model it replaces.

The eight-speed automatic transmission (a segment first) shifts seamlessly and is perfectly matched with the engine. I thoroughly enjoyed using the paddle shifters on the steering wheel and used it as often as I could whenever the situation permits.

The double wishbone with coil spring and stabilizer suspension up front and the three-link coil spring with stabilizer bar at the rear soaked up most road imperfections and provided a comfy ride for all passengers.

And for the skeptics who still doubt the new Montero Sport, Mitsubishi made sure that it will be one of the safest vehicle around, as, aside from seatbelts, it is equipped with seven air bags; Forward Collision Mitigation system that warns driver of an imminent collision and applies the brake automatically; Blind Spot Warning System; Mitsubishi’s Active Stability and Traction Control (M-ASTC); antilock brake system with electronic brake distribution (ABS-EBD); and, most of all, RISE (reinforced impact safety evolution) body that netted a five-star rating in the Ancap and N-CAP collision test.


Image Credits: Patrick P. Tulfo

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