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Mitsubishi Montero Limited (2001)

SEE ALSO: Mitsubushi Buyer's Guide

By Tom Hagin


     Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 34,997
     Price As Tested                                    $ 36,392
     Engine Type              SOHC 24-valve 3.5 Liter V6 w/SMFI*
     Engine Size                                 213 cid/3496 cc
     Horsepower                                   200 @ 5000 RPM
     Torque (lb-ft)                               235 @ 3000 RPM
     Wheelbase/Width/Length                  109.5"/73.9"/188.9"
     Transmission                           Four-speed automatic
     Curb Weight                                     4693 pounds
     Fuel Capacity                                  23.8 gallons
     Tires  (F/R)                      P265/70R16 M&S all-season
     Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS)
     Drive Train                   Front-engine/four-wheel-drive
     Vehicle Type                      Seven-passenger/five-door
     Domestic Content                                        N/A
     Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                               N/A


     EPA Economy, miles per gallon
        city/highway/average                            13/18/15          
     0-60 MPH                                       11.0 seconds
     Maximum payload capacity                        1235 pounds
     Maximum towing capacity                         5000 pounds
                * Sequential multi-point fuel injection

Although the Mitsubishi Montero has always been high quality and a well made sport/utility vehicle, it always looked like it was ready for the grueling Paris-to-Dakar rally. With its revised profile and mechanicals, its more suited for the country club circuit.

The new Montero is offered as the XLS model or as the top-of-the-line Limited, our test unit this week.

OUTSIDE - Mitsubishi started from scratch with a new unibody structure, replacing the former model's body-on-frame layout. The body is almost four inches wider, two inches shorter, 2.2 inches longer wheelbase and three inches of additional front and rear track. Although the ride height is lower, the new chassis has nearly two inches additional off-road ability. It lost some of the rugged appearance of the previous eight-year old version, but the new model's molded-in fender flares and wheel arches keep it in step with the other trendy SUVs. Other notable styling cues are the ribbed lower body cladding painted body color, "cat's eye" headlamps and integrated front fog lights. The standard tire and wheel combination is 16-by-seven inch alloy wheels and large P265/70R16 mud and snow tires.

INSIDE - The new model drives much more quietly now, thanks to single-piece side structures instead of the eight-piece welded-up unit of the old model. This makes the fender seams, door alignment and window fit more exacting, thus reducing wind whistle at speed. Also, the roof pillars are foam-filled, the floor utilizes asphalt sheeting, a two- layer firewall keeps engine noise out and the outer door panels are lined to absorb road noise. The result is a cabin that is a much quieter. Seating for seven is made easier by a new retractable third row seat that cleverly folds flat into the cargo area floor. A new dashboard now centers around a multi-function LCD readout, while the switches and controls are easier to use than before.

ON THE ROAD - The 3.5 liter V6 used in the previous Montero is also found in the new model. It's a single overhead-cam design, but with upgrades such as re-profiled camshafts, a cold-air induction system and a less-restricted exhaust system. A bit more pound-feet of torque (235 vs 222) has been extracted, while horsepower is up three to 200. Others in its class have V8 power in a similar package but most of those "premium" SUVs cost thousands more. The V6 does an excellent job, with noticeable improvements in throttle response, launch feel and mid-range passing power. Also new this year with the Limited model is a five-speed automatic transmission that features Sportronic shifting, a system designed to allow Montero drivers to shift the automatic somewhat like a manual.

BEHIND THE WHEEL - Other big news this year is Montero's all-new suspension system. Up front is a double wishbone setup that now uses coil springs instead of torsion bars for an additional 1.6 inches of wheel travel. In back is an independent multi-link system that replaces the truck-like solid rear axle. New suspension geometry makes it track better, separate suspension subframes provide a solid platform and filter out road vibrations and a new, more precise rack-and-pinion steering system replaces the former model's recirculating ball setup. And while Montero XLS has a revised part-time 4WD system, the Limited offers ActiveTrac four-wheel drive, which gives the choice of rear-wheel drive, full-time all-wheel drive, 4WD High and 4WD Low. Also new for '01 is a digitally-activated system that eliminates the levers and gears of the older Montero. Braking is handled by four-wheel discs, now ventilated all around for better cooling, with twin-piston front calipers for better grip, electro-hydraulic assist instead of vacuum assist and a four-channel anti-lock braking system (ABS). All are standard equipment.

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

OPTIONS - Limited Preferred Equipment Package (automatic climate control, rear air conditioning), $900.