What's New for 2001
The Montero is redesigned for 2001 and features a sculpted body, stiffer frame, improved suspension and more interior room.
Celebrating its first major redesign since 1992, the Montero has been improved in almost every way. Mitsubishi addressed issues like interior seating and ride quality, exterior shape, feature content and even engine performance while keeping the original Montero's claim to off-road rally king in sight. Two trim levels are available, the base XLS and uplevel Limited.
The most obvious improvement comes from the new Montero's sculpted shape, which replaces its former "tall box" look. The pronounced fender flares and swept-back headlights remind us of Toyota's Land Cruiser, which is not a bad thing. This updated shell sits on an all-new unibody structure with independent suspension both front and rear. A new rack-and-pinion steering design further enhances on-road driving manners, making the Montero more pleasant for soccer mom (or dad) duty.
Also improved for 2001 are passenger accommodations. Cargo volume is up 15 cubic feet for a total of 82. Front- and middle-row passengers gain head-, hip-, leg- and shoulder room. Third row passengers are still cramped with a scant 19.4 inches of legroom, but the third row seat itself now folds completely flat for easy storage like the Honda Odyssey and Mazda MPV. Side air bags are standard on both XLS and Limited models.
Mitsubishi worked to improve the Montero's 3.5-liter V6, but in our opinion this full-sized SUV needs either a more powerful V6 or an optional V8. Horsepower is up by three and torque is up by 12 foot-pounds, giving the 2001 Montero 200 horsepower at 5000 rpm and 235 foot-pounds of torque at a user-friendly 3500 rpm. These numbers translate to adequate around-town performance with a single occupant, but load up all seven of those seats and/or hook a trailer to the Montero's rear bumper, and forward progress, or lack thereof, would likely become a issue.
A unique (at least for a SUVs) transmission is found on the new Montero. While the base XLS gets a standard-issue four-speed automatic, Limited models come equipped with a five-speed manumatic transmission. Similar to the manumatic found in Mitsubishi's new Eclipse, this transmission allows for easy upshifts and downshifts by placing the shifter in a separate gate. The Limited also gets an improved version of Mitsubishi's ActiveTrac four-wheel drive system. A torque-sensing limited-slip rear differential is standard on the Limited and optional on the Montero XLS.
Montero's feature list is rather impressive. Base XLS models get improved antilock brakes, electronic brake distribution, a 100-watt audio system with CD player, remote keyless entry, dual glove boxes and three 12-volt power outlets. Step up to the Limited and you get a leather interior with wood trim, heated front seats, a 175-watt audio system and a LCD multi-function display. Automatic climate control is optional on the Limited.
Almost all of the ingredients for success are in place. If Mitsubishi could give the Montero some serious power, they would have a serious entry to compete in the upper end of the midsize SUV market.