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The 2006 Mitsubishi Montero is an old-school SUV that excels off-road, but when it comes to overall performance and passenger-carrying ability, it can't match its more modern rivals.
High-quality interior materials, sharp cabin design, large cargo capacity, excellent off-road capability.
Serious lack of power compared to rivals, mediocre on-road handling, cramped third-row seat, no side curtain airbags.
Available Montero Models
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There are no changes in store for the Mitsubishi Montero SUV this year.
The first Mitsubishi Montero was introduced in 1982 as a compact two-door, no-nonsense SUV. Looking like a Tonka trunk, the feisty Montero proved its toughness by winning the grueling 6,000-mile Paris-to-Dakar rally race in 1983 and 1985. A four-door model eventually joined the line, and in 1992 the Montero was revamped and sported a larger body, more powerful V6 engine and a more luxurious cabin.
After years of having a generic angular body style, the Montero adopted a curious mix of rounded front fenders and an upswept beltline when it was redesigned for 2001. As is usually the case with major redesigns, it also gained size, luxury and safety features -- and weight. In our 2002 midsize SUV comparison test, the Mitsubishi Montero finished last. Although it proved capable in off-road treks and felt sprightly around town, its 3.5-liter V6 lacked sufficient mid- and high-end power, making the Mitsubishi SUV feel sluggish when passing or merging power was needed. The other reasons for its back-of-the-pack rating were a relatively high price and a mostly useless third-row seat.
However, kudos went to the Montero for its serious off-road prowess, luxurious and well-finished cabin and safari-size sunroof. In 2003, Mitsubishi put a more powerful 3.8-liter V6 (215 horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque) engine under the Montero's sculpted hood, and celebrated the modest increase with styling tweaks. We still don't think it is enough to make it competitive with class leaders that offer V8 (or V8-like) power and more passenger room, but if the off-road ability and unique styling appeal to you, the 2006 Mitsubishi Montero may provide a satisfying drive.
The four-door Mitsubishi Montero comes in Limited trim only. Standard equipment includes leather upholstery, a 315-watt Infinity audio system with a CD changer, 17-inch alloy wheels, power-adjustable front seats, a sunroof, a trip computer, automatic climate control and a leather-and-wood steering wheel. A DVD entertainment system is optional, which deletes the standard six-disc CD changer and sunroof.
The only engine available on the Mitsubishi Montero is a 3.8-liter V6 that generates 215 hp and 248 lb-ft of torque. It's matched to a five-speed automatic transmission with "Sportronic" shifting that allows manual gear selection. Mitsubishi's "ActiveTrac" four-wheel-drive system comes standard and offers both full- or part-time operation. The Montero's 5,000-pound towing capacity is modest compared to V8-powered midsizers like the Durango and Explorer.
Antilock brakes with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) and a stability control system are standard. Side airbags for front occupants are also included, but full-length side curtain airbags are not available. In frontal-offset crash testing, the Mitsubishi Montero earned an "Acceptable" rating (second highest) from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
The Montero has seating for up to seven passengers. Although the overall interior design is a bit dated, quality materials give the cabin of this Mitsubishi SUV a rugged, upscale feel. Maximum cargo capacity is a solid 91.7 cubic feet. A third-row seat is standard, though flat cushioning and a shortage of legroom limit its use to carrying small children. An optional DVD entertainment system is available for rear passengers' amusement.
On the road, the Montero's suspension is firm enough to keep it under control during evasive maneuvers, but don't expect carlike handling. The dual-wishbone front and multilink rear suspension results in an overall feel that is soft and forgiving, but minor road irregularities can transmit a surprising amount of harshness throughout the otherwise isolated cabin. The Montero's off-road ability is exceptional. Whether it's rugged washboard pathways, fast fire roads or technical rock-strewn riverbeds, the 2006 Mitsubishi Montero never flinches as it stays the course.
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