Review: 2004 Mitsubishi Endeavor

THE AUTO PAGE By JOHN HEILIG

SPECIFICATIONS

MODEL: Mitsubishi Endeavor
ENGINE: 3.8-liter V6
HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 215 hp @ 5,000 rpm/250 lb-ft @ 3,750 rpm
TRANSMISSION: 4-speed automatic with Sportronic
WHEELBASE: 108.7 in.
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT: 190.2 x 73.6 x 67.3 in.
STICKER PRICE: $28,000-$32,000

Mitsubishi is becoming a full-range SUV manufacturer, what with the entry-level Outlander, Montero, Montero Sport, and the new Endeavor slotted between the two Monteros.

Endeavor is defined by Mitsubishi as a "mid-sized crossover SUV," but in fact it's simply a mid-size. And it's a nice mid-size.

Dimensionally, Endeavor fits in with just about all the competition. It has a 109-inch wheelbase and is 90 inches in overall length. So if you sit behind the wheel of the Endeavor after coming form another SUV, you aren't going to be too surprised.

We took the Endeavor on one of our "magical mystery tours" to visit children, grandchildren and assorted in-laws. It was party time in my son-in-law's family, so the Endeavor took us to all the houses involved. In all, we put close to 1,000 miles on the Endeavor during the week we had it.

We filled the seats with two adults in front and two children in car seats, plus Mom, in the rear. As usual, my grandson was thrilled to see that the Endeavor had a sunroof, and he insisted we keep it open for the overhead view.

I was impressed that there was room for a full-size adult in the rear, even with the two car seats. Of course, it was good for her to be there if either 2-year-old Owen or newborn Milo fussed, but Owen was so enchanted by the sunroof, he was cool.

With a 3.8-liter V6 rated at 215 horsepower, and a smooth 4-speed automatic transmission, we were able to deal with Interstates and urban traffic. The automatic had a Sportronic mode that allowed us to shift it manually if we chose. There were times, especially when we were duking it out around DC with Redskins traffic, when we needed the advantage of a faster shift response than the automatic offered, so we went manual.

The one feature that was missing form the Endeavor was a navigation system that might have helped us avoid traffic and find streets in strange towns, but we did well.

Behind the rear seat was a large cargo are that is rated at 40.7 cubic feet. We used all those feet for the baby's luggage (diaper bags, clean clothes, etc.) and on the way back for gifts and items to me moved between houses. The other options were a small station wagon or a compact sedan. With the second seat folded, cargo capacity increases to 76.4 cubic feet, which was more than even my family could fill on a trip (I hope).

Endeavor is a "normal" looking SUV as well. One feature I didn't like about the Montero, for example, was the bulges over the front fenders that made it look, from the inside, as if you had already been in a fender bender. Endeavor is styled more like the Outlander and, therefore, is more of a crossover vehicle.

Underneath the unibody is a four-wheel independent suspension with MacPherson struts in front and a multi-link configuration in the rear. Ride quality at all times was very good, and was smooth enough for the little ones to sleep on longer trips. In addition, Endeavor has power rack-and-pinion steering and four-wheel disc brakes behind the 17-inch wheels. ABS is included on uplevel 2-wheel drive models.

Endeavor is one vehicle that performed exactly the way we expected it to, with no surprises. In a sense, that's good, because on longer trips and on trips with a variety of road and traffic conditions, you don't want surprises. In another sense, though, it's tough, because it's more difficult to write about it.

The base Mitsubishi Endeavor LS is priced between $25,000 and $28,000, while the upscale XLS is priced between $28,000 and $32,000.

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