New Car/Review

Mitsubishi

2000 Mitsubishi Montero Sport XLS 4X4

By Tom Hagin

Mitsubishi Full Line Video footage (20:02)
SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 29,327
Price As Tested                                    $ 32,437
Engine Type               SOHC 24-valve 3.0 Liter V6 w/MFI*
Engine Size                                 181 cid/2972 cc
Horsepower                      173 (165 for CA) @ 5250 RPM
Torque (lb-ft)                  188 (186 for CA) @ 4000 RPM
Wheelbase/Width/Length                  107.3"/69.9"/181.1"
Transmission                           Four-speed automatic
Curb Weight                                     4137 pounds
Fuel Capacity                                  19.5 gallons
Tires  (F/R)                            P255/70R16 mud/snow
Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS)
Drive Train                   Front-engine/four-wheel-drive
Vehicle Type                       Five-passenger/five-door
Domestic Content                                Two percent
Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                              0.51

PERFORMANCE

EPA Economy, miles per gallon
city/highway/average                            17/20/18          
0-60 MPH                                       12.0 seconds
Maximum payload capacity                        1215 pounds
Maximum towing capacity                         5000 pounds

* Multi-port fuel injection

Mitsubishi has been building rugged SUVs for many years. Its boxy Montero sold well in this country but as it moved upscale, it left a hole in the mid-sized, under-$30,000 market, an area Mitsubishi just couldn't ignore. That's when the company began importing the Montero Sport, a model also called the L-200 in Asia and South America.

Here, it comes as the ES (two-wheel drive only), the LS, the top- line Limited and as our XLS test car, all in two-or-four-wheel drive.

OUTSIDE -Montero Sport is seven inches shorter and somewhat lower than the big Montero, and it doesn't have such a tall cabin and raised roof. Still, it looks big and substantial. Its lines are crisp and angular, with sharp creases and a raked-back windshield. The long, sleek lines lends themselves well to a lean, muscular appearance, especially with its oversized tires, standard fender flares, side steps and two-tone paint. Although the beltline is high and the roof line is low, the proportions fit the SUV mold perfectly. The latest changes for 2000 include a new grille, front bumper, tail lamps, fog lights and bodyside moldings, along with new headlights and headlight bezels. A new set of eight-spoke alloy wheels and P255/70R16 all-season tires are standard on XLS and Limited models.

INSIDE -New this year is a center console with a pair of cupholders and a 12-volt power outlet. Two-tone interior colors are now offered, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror with a built-in compass and outside temperature display comes on XLS and Limited models. The seats are covered in heavy-weave cloth upholstery, with optional leather, and feature a pair of supportive buckets up front and a three-across bench in back. Cargo space is ample, with nearly 44 cubic feet of room behind the rear seat; almost 90 cubic feet with the rear seat folded forward. A large, swing-up tailgate gives access to the rear. The dashboard is laid out in simple fashion, with large rotary knobs for the ventilation controls and clear, easy-to-read gauges. The buttons and knobs for the stereo system could be bigger, however.

ON THE ROAD -The four-cylinder engine has been dropped for 2000, so now power comes from a 3.0 liter V6 engine with single overhead camshafts and four valves per cylinder. It uses aluminum cylinder heads and a cast iron block, along with electronic fuel injection and extra-long intake runners to help increase low-end torque. It produces 173 horsepower and 188 lb-ft of torque, which gives it the ability to tow as much as 5000 pounds when properly equipped. Improvements such as a structural oil pan and a dual-mass crankshaft pulley damper help control vibration. Power is adequate but it's short few ponies compared to the current crop of mid-sized SUVs on the market today. The engine is mated to a standard four-speed automatic transmission with an "optimum shift control" system that improves shifting quality and responsiveness.

BEHIND THE WHEEL -Montero Sport uses the same type of fully boxed frame rails as the bigger Montero, along with the same basic suspension geometry. Up front are unequal-length A-arms and a thick anti-roll bar to keep it flat in corners. Extra long front torsion bars help give it plenty of wheel travel for off-road smoothness. New this year is a three-link rear suspension that now uses coil springs instead of the truck-like leaf springs on previous Montero Sport models. The ride is now noticeably better on the road, and not much different on the trail, so the upgrade seems to be a win-win situation. Its part-time four-wheel drive system can be activated at speed via a console-mounted shift lever, but it shouldn't be used on dry roads because of driveline strain. Steering inputs are quick and responsive, though drivers quickly realize that tall SUV tires are best suited for quiet comfort rather than sports car handling. Braking is via four-wheel discs, with a standard anti-lock braking system (ABS). A limited slip rear differential helps slippery road grip and came as an option on our rig.

SAFETY -Dual airbags, ABS and side-impact beams are standard.

OPTIONS -Premium Package: (uplevel stereo, amplifier and speakers, leather seating, limited slip differential, power sunroof) $2.655.

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