2001 Mitsubishi Montero Ltd 4-WD (346)


This week’s car is the 2001 Mitsubishi Montero Limited 4-door, 4-wheel drive luxury sport utility. Special and pretty it is, but amongst all the competition it won’t lose the stigma of being a gas-guzzler.

I’ve always been down on this breed of cat mostly because it represents the arrogance of carmakers to think we should believe better gas performance is not attainable from these versatile vehicles. High demand for this type car places no “demands” on the carmakers to do better in economy. After all, if you can afford the purchase price, who’s worried about gas consumption – right?

I have to tell Detroit and Japan, et al, that it ain’t so. I believe we’ll find consumers will make a mad dash in an Exodus to the promised land of real economy cars.   In all fairness, however, carmakers are held hostage, just like us car buyers, by the irrational pricing history of gas. The stinky substance was plentiful while commuting was taking shape in this country, but as soon as they got you “hooked” on non-public transportation and forced the removal of mass transit rail systems, they artificially raised the prices for greater profit. Sound a bit like drug dealers? It is clearly a scam. Give me your thoughts and I’ll get them on my website. We can talk about the mid 1970’s when heavily laden tankers lay offshore while fistfights waged at the pumps. A good expose should be fun, eh?

Meanwhile, back to the Montero. It’s new, comfy, spicy, fast, exciting, unique in styling and has a huge sunroof. At the end of the day I got a good feeling about this car.

Handling & Performance:

It gives you that solid feeling. The automatic trans includes a “Tiptronic” type shifting capability, but I see it as nearly useless. If you had to pay extra for it, you’d likely say forget it.

Consumer Reports asserts … “this vehicle is unsafe in that it is especially prone to tipping on two wheels, making it unacceptable for buyers”. Mitsubishi says BS or at least they had to be thinking it when Pierre Gagnon, president and chief operating officer of Mitsubishi Motor Sales of America, Inc. said, “We have searched our records and found no reported incidents or complaints of rollover crashes in this vehicle — not one,” Well, I agree with Pierre since I have driven all the competition and none feel any better in the area of stability. Lets face it, SUV’s are all high profile by design and drivers know that instinctively and I suspect they drive according to the conditions given the kind of vehicle they are driving.


Solid look and feel from bulky lines, shift levers, steering wheel, etc., and like the Land Rover, it gives the appearance of being a real serious off road vehicle. It is rather distinct and the rugged lines are to my liking.

Fit and Finish:

With all the wood trim and luxury appointments this is bound to be a winner for Mitsubishi. They also do a nice job presenting the controls and computer statistical display. I didn’t like the radio angle and for older folks the display is too small.


It will seat 5 or 7 if you bring up the rearmost seat that tucks neatly in the floor. Pretty slick, because if you don’t need the extra seats it provides an easy way to increase cargo area without wondering what to do with the seats. The need for the 4-wheel drive is questionable since so few ever use it, but if you do get off road, or will need to fight bad weather or other unusual road conditions this feature is indispensable. At that time, gas consumption is the least of your concerns.

Armrests turn a so-so chair into a captain’s chair that I like a lot because they add a lot of comfort on those longer trips, and they fold up out of the way for around town driving.


It is expensive to buy and to drive like most other SUV’s.


I recently tested the Ford Escape 2-WD that gets 24 highway mpg. The keyword here is it’s a two-wheel drive vehicle so if you, like most people, will never get off road, don’t buy the 4X4. And just because you operate your 4X4 in 2-wheel drive mode, it doesn’t matter – the increased vehicle weight, etc., make it suck up much more gas.

The Competition:

BMW X5 $38,900-49,400, Dodge Durango $26,650,28,770, Ford Explorer $24,020-34,055, GMC Envoy $28,820-33820, Isuzu Trooper $27,170-34,813, Jeep Grand Cherokee $27,300-35,095, Land Rover Discovery $33,350-36,750, Mercedes M-Class $35,800-65,900, Nissan Pathfinder $27,349-31,799, Oldsmobile Bravada $31,635-34,167, Toyota Land Cruiser $53,195.

Good News:

New, comfy, spicy, fast, exciting, unique styling and a huge sunroof.

Bad News:

Typical poor gas performance.

Standard Equipment:

3.5 liter 200 hp V6 engine, 5-speed automatic with “Sportronic” shifting, leather, dual airbags, anti-theft system, 4-wheel drive, limited slip differential, power steering, stabilizer bars, power disc brakes, climate control front and rear air conditioning, am/fm/cd stereo, power windows and door locks, power side mirrors, cruise control, remote keyless entry, rear window washer, 2nd row fold down seats, 3rd row stowable seats, wood and leather steering wheel, wood grain interior trim, power moon roof with tilt, roof rack, fog lights and tow hooks.

Gas Stats:

13 City and 18 Highway MPG.


MSRP $36,717.

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