New & Used Mitsubishi Montero Sport: In Depth
2002 Mitsubishi Montero Sport ESEnlarge Photo
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The Mitsubishi Montero Sport, which was sold in other markets of the world as the Pajero Sport, was offered in the U.S. in the 1997 through 2004 model years. Not to be confused with a modern crossover, the Montero Sport is a mid-size sport-utility that was based on Mitsubishi’s 1990s-era Mighty Max pickups but borrowing some components (and its 107-inch wheelbase) from the Montero.When the Montero Sport was introduced, there was a burgeoning—or, in some regions, rabid—U.S. market for traditional, body-on-frame SUVs with four doors. It was intended to take on the Jeep Cherokee, Toyota 4Runner, and Nissan Pathfinder, among others.
Most U.S. versions of the Montero Sport were powered by a 3.0-liter V-6—rated from 165 to 173 hp, depending on the year—that seems choked and overwhelmed by modern standards; it’ll do fine around town, but on the highway it was short on passing power with passengers or a full load, let alone anything to tow. The base 134-hp four-cylinder engine is rough, but it actually makes decent torque down low, so it’s not a total disaster in 2WD, manual-transmission versions if all you plan to do is putter around town and haul weekend-project pieces.
As for the driving experience, expect the ride and handling of a pickup, with some crashing over city potholes and bouncing on highway heaves. The recirculating-ball power steering doesn’t have much precision, either, although the driving position is high up and close to ideal. The back seat space is also not bad, with space for four adults to get comfortable enough in the Montero Sport for a daylong trip.
The Montero Sport, for the most part, carries on the solid reputation of the pickups on which they were based, and they’ve found a loyal following on the used-vehicle market not necessarily for being completely bulletproof and reliable, but for being relatively easy and reasonable to repair and service.
For their final model year, 2004 Mitsubishi Montero Sport models got upgraded to a 197-hp version of the 3.5-liter engine that had already been used in the bigger Montero. That makes this final model year the one to go for, if you really want a Montero (though we do recommend those other models for most needs).
The Mitsubishi Endeavor replaced both the Montero and Montero Sport in 2004 and is considerably more passenger- and family-friendly than either model.