What's New for 1997
The Montero is unchanged for this year.
Mitsubishi was in the vanguard at the beginning of the sport-utility boom. Way back in 1989, when the Explorer had yet to be introduced, and the Grand Cherokee was little more than scribblings in a designer's notebook, the Montero had already evolved into a wonderfully practical four-door design that offered excellent utility and go-anywhere capability. As the years passed, however, the Montero moved further and further up-market as Mitsubishi lavished their only sport-ute with additional equipment and expensive gee-whiz components. Today the price of the Montero starts at just under $30,000 and doesn't include options such as a roof rack, air conditioning, antilock brakes, or floor mats.
Realizing that they were losing sales as a result of this steep price, Mitsubishi penned a new shape, placed it on a proven platform, and came up with a not-very-original name for a smaller, less-expensive SUV. The Montero Sport shares a frame with the larger Montero, which is a good thing for those seaking off-road capability, but is shorter overall due to decreased front and rear overhangs. The Montero Sport's cabin holds five passengers instead of the Montero's seven-passenger capability. Interestingly, however, is the fact that the Montero Sport's cargo space actually surpasses that of the full-size Montero.
The Montero Sport is available in three trim levels (we currently only have information on two of them), the ES, LS, and XLS. The Es is powered by a four-cylinder 134-horsepower engine. We doubt that many people will opt for this value leader, and think that it is the lineup to act merely as a customer-grabber in the Sunday new car ads. The most popular model will probably be the LS 4WD automatic. The base price of this truck is $24,415 (including destination charges), and includes a powerful V6 engine. Add preferred packages #3 and #4 and the price climbs to $26,207. If you want power door locks, windows, and mirrors, you'll need to drop an additional $829; the Montero's alleged value is diminishing quickly.
Nevertheless, it is possible to get a well-optioned Montero Sport for less than $30,000. We think that by staying under that magic number, people will flock to Mitsubishi dealerships to check out the this new SUV. Be sure to check out the Montero Sport's rear seat, however, we were disappointed by the short seat cushion and lack of leg room. If you've got lanky teenagers to cart around, this may not be the right truck.