Text and photos by Chris Van Hoven
The battle for supremacy in the mid-sized diesel SUV category is one of the most hotly contested segments in the industry, and the competition continues to intensify every year.
If we’re judging by the numbers though, there’s no doubt by now that Filipinos love the Mitsubishi Montero Sport. As one of the top five best-selling models for 2017, the Montero Sport is a huge reason why Mitsubishi enjoys the position as the second best-selling brand in the local automotive market. But with new entries to the segment such as Nissan’s Terra, can the Montero Sport still put up a fight, or does it automatically slide down a notch? We find out.
Refined inside and out
We can confidently say that the Mitsubishi Montero Sport still boasts of some of the most refined characteristics in its class. Its interior still reflects excellent build quality and a great use of materials. It feels genuinely upscale.
The Montero Sports boasts of some of the best driver and front passenger seats in its class, and it’s further exemplified by the GT variant’s comfortable leather seats. They offer great support, and it’s easy to find a snug position, thanks to multiple adjustment options. Interior space in the cabin is slightly less than its competitors. The seats at the second row are easily enjoyed by its occupants despite the lower-than-average head room, though the Montero’s disadvantage makes itself more apparent when it comes to the Montero Sport’s third row. A raised floor means raised legs while seated, making it rather uncomfortable for adults during long trips. Once the third row is folded, however, there’s plenty of usable cargo space, meaning the Montero Sport is relegated to 5-seater duty more often than not.
The Montero Sport is proof that ladder-frame based seven-seater SUVs have come a long way in terms of driving refinement as well. The 2.4-liter, four-cylinder MIVEC diesel engine produces 181-hp and a generous 430-Nm of torque, which is more than ample to ferry a full complement of passengers confidently. There is a hint of turbo lag at the get go, but the engine starts to truly shine once you get it up to speed. Overtaking is a relatively simple chore, and long drives are made more enjoyable thanks to virtually non-existent clatter or vibrations from the engine.
The eight-speed automatic transmission makes good use of the engine’s capabilities, providing smooth shifts through each gear, and paddle shifters are available for those who require manual adjustments. Thanks to a relatively low displacement combined with the eight-speed transmission, fuel economy is generally good, as we were able to register nine kilometers per liter on combined city and highway use.
Ride comfort is acceptable, though not as cushy as the Ford Explorer, and it’s definitely not harsh enough to make it a problem through most road irregularities. Its rack and pinion power steering provides a very natural feel of the road, as opposed to the artificial numbness that some electronic power steering systems offer. The GT variant also features an intelligent 4×4 system, with terrain presets and a rear differential locking feature if the need arises.
Still a value proposition
At P2,162,000 for the top-of-the-line GT variant, the Montero Sport still finds itself as one of the more affordable choices in its class for the amount of kit it comes with. Safety features are abundant, with seven airbags, Ultrasonic Misacceleration Mitigation, Forward Collision Mitigation, Blind Spot Warning, and a reverse camera. We would like to see an upgrade to disc brakes at the rear, similar to what Toyota did for their Fortuner, as this would make the package an absolute no-brainer. Packed with the features that matter offered at an attractive price point, the Montero Sport remains an intelligent choice in an increasingly crowded field.