2004 Mitsubishi Endeavor Review

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Robert Ahl Robert Ahl Editor
May 9, 2003
Related Articles:
2003 Toyota 4Runner by John Pearley Huffman (9/23/2002)




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Remember when SUVs where merely conservative, unadorned boxes? When their styling basically consisted of the nose from some pickup truck with a sheetmetal brick behind it? Yeah, those were the days… the grand, glorious, giddy mid- to late-Nineties and early 2Ks. Oh how we miss them so.

Now it seems every maker is conjuring up some sort of wild-looking SUV. Nissan has gone globular with its Murano and Infiniti FX45, Toyota’s 2003 4Runner front end looks like a Cylon helmet from Battlestar Galactica, the Volvo XC90 features an oversize caricature of traditional Volvo styling, and the Chrysler Pacifica is too… too… something. But it’s Mitsubishi’s new 2004 Endeavor that’s the most aggressively bizarre looking of the bunch.

Follow us, if you will and can, down and around this form. The Endeavor’s nose looks so much like a rhinoceros’s nose that you half-expect it to snort and charge. The headlights are big enough to throw off lumens the size of hams, the fenders carry more sculpture than the Uffizi, and the side mirrors look like shovels ripped out of a kid robot’s sandbox. It’s a design riot, but the Endeavor isn’t ugly -- it’s just busy. Busy like a honeybee that’s extracted all the pollen from a Ritalin.

Convention rules

2004 Mitsubishi Endeavor

2004 Mitsubishi Endeavor

Despite the sheetmetal and plastic antics that define the Endeavor’s outward appearance, mechanically it’s a thoroughly conventional crossover SUV. Its 108.7-inch wheelbase and 190.2-inch overall length means it’s about two inches bigger in both than a Honda Pilot. The 3.8-liter SOHC V-6 sits sideways in the engine bay, sending its power to a four-speed automatic transaxle to power either the front wheels alone or, through a full-time transfer case, all four wheels. The suspension is struts up front and a multi-link system in the rear. All this is familiar stuff: the basic building blocks of a bunch of other crossover SUVs.

2004 Mitsubishi Endeavor

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The Endeavor’s iron-block 3.8-liter V-6 is derived from the Montero’s 3.5-liter and that engine itself is a stretched version of the company’s 3.0-liter truck V-6. The 215 horsepower from 3.8 liters isn’t particularly robust, especially considering the Pilot’s 240 horsepower or the Toyota Highlander’s 220-horsepower 3.0-liter V-6. Both the Honda and Toyota engines benefit from being more modern, all-aluminum designs featuring variable valve timing. However, the relatively big displacement does give the Mitsu a slight advantage in low-end torque over its closest competitors.

2004 Mitsubishi Endeavor

2004 Mitsubishi Endeavor

The Endeavor is slightly less aggressive inside than outside. The dashboard itself is dominated by a large center stack styled to resemble a portable stereo system, with the instrumentation under its own awning in front of the driver. The speedo and tach are easy to read and are lighted in blue at night. The ventilation and audio controls are oversize and easy to manipulate and the in-dash, six-disc CD changer that comes in the mid-line ES and range-topping Limited is appreciated (base LS buyers get a single CD player). An LCD display tops the dash-center arrangement, but it lacks a navigation system as an option.

A more significant omission however is a third-row seat. That limits the Endeavor to just five occupants, while Honda says eight can be crammed into the Pilot’s three rows (it helps if some are Verne Troyer or smaller). Still the Endeavor’s rather flat seats are comfortable and legroom in the second row is generous.

Mitsubishi has done a fine job with interior textures, like the pebbled and dimpled texture of the steering wheel and the soft feel of the vast dash pad. The seats are flat but comfortable, leg room is good — especially in back — and there are enough outlets to power a cell phone, computer, Xbox, maybe an iron lung.

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2004 Mitsubishi Endeavor

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Handling it all

Every Endeavor comes wearing 235/55R17 all-season tires that contribute to this SUV’s good on-road composure. It’s not a sports car, but as long as the driver doesn’t try and clip his subdivision’s apexes too abruptly, the Endeavor behaves predictably with nicely weighted steering. The ride is about as good as any in this class and that is pretty dang good.

The engine isn’t quite so happy. Its off-idle initial acceleration is good, but it starts gasping for breath as it reaches higher revs. The four-speed automatic behaves well, too, and the “Sportronic” manual shifting scheme adds some interest to the driving experience, but it seems a bit archaic now that five- and six-speed automatics have become more common.

This is the first SUV Mitsubishi has ever designed specifically for North America and it’s the first to be produced here as well. In fact the new platform upon which the Endeavor is built will eventually spawn a Galant sedan and Eclipse coupe to be assembled alongside the SUV in Normal, Illinois. As such it’s wider and more civilized for the light-duty demands SUV buyers ask of their suburban warriors. Mitsubishi is keeping the Montero and Montero Sport around for anyone who needs serious off-road ability.

Where Mitsubishi makes great progress with the Endeavor is in areas like the interior, where every panel and piece is nicely textured and operates with grace and ease. Where they still need work is in engine sophistication. The over-the-tippy-top aspects of the Endeavor’s styling are polarizing, but it’s probably better for Mitsu, which doesn’t have the towering reputation of Honda or Toyota, to be something to some people than nothing to all people.

The Endeavor goes on sale in February with the base two-wheel-drive model starting at around $25,000 and fully loaded cowhide-laden Limited likely cresting past $35,000. Those are competitive prices that, along with some of Mitsubishi’s legendarily aggressive incentives, should have buyers considering the Endeavor.

2004 Mitsubishi Endeavor Limited
Base price: $35,000 (est.; $25,000 base)
Engine: 3.5-liter V-6, 215 hp
Drivetrain: Four-speed automatic transmission, all-wheel drive
Length x width x height: 190.2 x 73.6 x 67.3 in
Wheelbase: 108.7 in
Curb weight: 4150 lb
Safety equipment: Dual front airbags, four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes
Major standard equipment: Power windows/locks/mirrors, A/C, cruise control, CD player, leather interior, keyless entry
Warranty: Three years/36,000 miles

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