Keeping Up With The Pack, Or Leading It?
For many years, the Mitsubishi Montero Sport has been the perennial choice of Filipino families needing a 7-seat family SUV. It’s comfortable, powerful, economical, and well kitted out. For model year 2013, Mitsubishi introduced a few minor tweaks on its popular midsize ladder frame SUV. Will the 2013 Montero Sport continue leading in an ever-growing market of 7-seat ladder frame SUVs?
The overall looks remains mainly unchanged, but there are noticeable tweaks. For 2013, Mitsubishi revised the front grille of the Montero Sport GLS-V. Looks familiar? The Montero Sport GLS-V now has the same grille as the Montero Sport GTV model. There are a few more minor tweaks too, like the LED turn indicators on the side mirrors, giving it a classier and more modern look.
Interior and Features
Inside, some of the stories remain on why the Montero Sport is a popular choice. For one, it has a modern interior. It looks mature and premium, but it is actually far from truly feeling premium. The materials quality remain the same. Hard and brittle feeling plastics are used all around, but I would’t mind at this price point. For my taste, I always preferred the interior of the GLS-V over the GTV, because faux wood never captures the physical properties of real wood, therefore you easily know the wood is fake. Silver plastics simulate real aluminum trim well, and I prefer the more “youthful” and “sporty” vibe of aluminum.
Space and Practicality
The third row seats are fine. There isn’t plenty of legroom, but it is adequate, and so is headroom. This is helped by having a very low third row seat, though it is too low for my taste. As with other vehicles, the third row seats are best left for children. If the third row seats aren’t needed, they do fold flat, also helped by that low third row seat height. Unlike the Fortuner’s third row seats where you have to hang them on the side and limit your rear visibility, these seats are much easier to operate. This kind of third row seat configuration leaves you with a big and flat cargo area, and the absence of ant load lip means that sliding things in and out of the Montero Sport isn’t a challenge.
As for features, the GLS-V has Bluetooth, GPS navigation, DVD, USB port, and many more of the usual media connectivity sources. For 2013, the GLS-V has switched from a manual AC into an automatically operated climate control system. Also, along with the usual array of rear parking sensors, an optional back-up camera has been added for 2013, which makes parking less of a chore and more of a joy. Once again the Mitsubishi Montero Sport has upped the ante in bringing class-leading technology in the affordable ladder-frame midsize SUV segment. There’s not much off-road features to talk about since this is the RWD model.
Powering the Mitsbusihi Montero Sport GLS-V is a 2.5 liter DI-D direct-injected common rail, diesel engine, which delivers a healthy 178 horsepower and 350 Nm of torque. If you are an owner of the now discontinued GLS SE, which is powered by a 3.2 liter DI-D common rail diesel engine and is still wondering why the engine displacement became smaller, it’s because thanks to VGT (Variable Geometry Turbo), the 2.5 liter diesel engine now delivers more power and torque over the old 3.2 liter diesel engine. Power is delivered through a 5-speed automatic transmission via the rear wheels, though 4WD is available.
How It Drives
Step in the Mitsubishi Montero Sport, the tall, commanding driving position gives you a good view ahead. When I drove the Toyota Fortuner before, I never considered it a comfortable SUV, and though the suspension has been revised in it’s second facelift, I still found it a bit too stiff. To be honest, I am actually not a fan of ladder frame or body on frame SUVs, since I prefer the rigidity and car-like agility of a monocoque body, but the Montero has good overall comfort. The suspension soaks up the bumps decently. Some engine and road noise goes through the cabin, and admittedly, it isn’t the quietest of SUVs, but it isn’t too bad.
Put the Montero’s 5-speed automatic transmission in manual mode, and you can take advantage of the paddle shifters, a unique Montero Sport feature traditionally seen only in sporty sedans and sports cars. Acceleration off the line is decent and you never feel the 2.5 liter diesel engine work hard, mainly because of the VGT (Variable Geometry Turbo). Since the 2.5 liter diesel engine doesn’t need to work hard, it returns an efficient fuel consumption rating of *10.4 km/l (in full automatic mode) and *11.5 km/l (in manual mode), which includes sporty driving on a back road, and normal cruising in the city and highway.
Bring the Montero Sport off-road, and the advantages of its body on frame construction becomes evident. While not as composed, comfortable, or as dynamic as its more sophisticated and more high-end siblings like the Hyundai Santa Fe, Kia Sorento, and Ford Explorer on the tarmac, it certainly is a lot more capable off-road. Thanks to its tough chassis, drivers need not to worry when driving the Montero Sport in some of the roughest terrain its owner will probably take it to.
On The Downside
Like everything in life, nothing is of course, perfect. I never described the Montero Sport as, well, “sporty” and fun to drive. The trade-off for a comfort oriented ride is of course, body roll. Steering feel is also vague, as it isn’t that responsive to driver inputs, though when suddenly changing directions, it is agile and predictable for the kind of vehicle it is. If you want an SUV to put a smile on your face on a twisty road, go for midsize crossover SUVs like the Mazda CX-9, Ford Explorer, and Hyundai Santa Fe.
The Mitsubishi Montero Sport GLS-V remains to be a practical choice for Filipinos. Priced at PHP 1,458,000, the Montero Sport GLS-V 4×2 AT is certainly a good value to buyers. It is practical, spacious, and well kitted out. It also seats seven people comfortably. It is not the sportiest of SUVs, but its body on frame construction gives it an edge when the going gets tough. For 2013, they have further refined the details and made it a notch better than the competition. With the arrival of newcomers such as the Chevrolet Trailblazer and the facelifted Toyota Fortuner, the 2013 Mitsubishi Montero Sport remains to be a strong competitor in an ever-growing ladder-frame midsize SUV segment.
Exterior Design: ★★★★☆
Interior Design: ★★★★☆
Interior Quality: ★★★★☆
Fuel Efficiency: ★★★★☆
Value For Money: ★★★★☆
OVERALL: 3.78 out of 5
*Fuel consumption results may vary depending on conditions and the driver itself.