Category Archives: Mitsubishi

1998 Mitsubishi Diamante ES (175)

Overview:

This week’s Mitsubishi Diamante ES is a mid-size 5-passenger sedan that is obviously in the hunt and eagerly competing in this market. Mitsubishi has only been in the American market since 1982.

My first impressions were that it was nicely elegant. It reminded me of the Lexus LS400, even though the published competition from Lexus is the ES300. Diamante is spacious, comfortable and well appointed inside. It has lots of power with a 3.5 liter V6 and I really liked this car. It was a surprise as was the performance with 0-60 mph acceleration of 8.5 seconds, 1/4-mile performance is 16.5 seconds and it has a top speed of 137 mph.

A few interesting side notes are that more that half of the parts and the final assembly is Adelaide, Australia. Demographically, buyers are about equally split between men & women with median age of 51, 90% are married and 56% are HS grads and household income is about $64,000 per year.

Others competitors you may look at to compare the Diamante include the Acura TL ($30,700 – $33,150), Audi A4 ($23,790 – $30,040), Buick Park Avenue ($30,675 – $35,550), Cadillac Catera ($29,995), Infiniti I30 ($28,900 – $31,500), Lexus ES 300 ($30,790), Mazda Millenia ($28,995 – $36,595), Mercedes-Benz C-Class ($30,450 – $35,400), Saab 900 ($24,500 – $42,195), Toyota Avalon ($24,278 – $28,128) and the Volvo S70 ($26,985 – $34,010). I’ve driven all but a couple of the above and would agree that they are all very close in performance as well as pricing.

Standard Equipment:

3.5 liter V6 210 horsepower engine, 4-speed auto trans, power rack & pinion steering, 4-wheel power anti-locking disc brakes, stainless steel exhaust, climate control, cruise control, security system with keyless entry, power windows and door locks, 6-way adjustable driver seat, velour seats, AM/FM stereo cassette, height adjustable steering column, remote fuel and trunk release, dual air bags, power door mirrors, auto-off headlights and power antenna.

Gas Stats:

18 City / 24 Highway MPG.

Pricing:

Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price is $27,650 and the model I drove included a 10 disc CD autochanger for $797, the premium package that upgraded the wheels and tires, leather seats and wrapped steering wheel, wood trim, fog lights, power driver seat 2-position memory, tilt front headrests for $2700 and a power sunroof for $963. After destination charges of $470 the total was only $32,580.

For the dealer nearest you call 1 800 222 0037.

Mitsubishi 3000GT VR-4 (174)

Overview:

This week’s Mitsubishi 3000GT VR-4 is a car I’ve been wanting to test for a long time. Finally I get to drive it and it falls on my birthday. Boy did I feel my mortality when I noticed it is becoming a little harder to get in and out of small places. Don’t get the wrong idea, I’m not that old, but sports cars are more for the young…er guys and gals.

The sweep of the windshield brings the top closer to your head than I would like and the thought occurred to me that this is not for real big people. I have a keen sense of the obvious and you too will notice the tight feeling if you’re six feet or over. However, it was comfortable, when I got the seat adjusted, and once you’re in, the ride is wonderful.

This model is rated as a sub-compact and noted as a 2+2-seating car. In a pinch a medium sized person can sit in the back, but better for little people at best.

On the racetrack or for life in the fast lane the performance of this car is impressive. Don’t let the 3.0 liter V6 fool you. This car, on the track or on the streets will make driving fun and fast if that’s your thing. It is an all-wheel drive, four-wheel steering marvel of engineering. There are three GT’s to choose from and all are basically the same with the exception of the powertrain. Based on the same V6 engine, you can go from 161 horsepower for the base model, 218 horsepower for the SL model or the top of the line twin-turbocharged, all-wheel drive cranks out an impressive 320 horsepower in the VR-4 that I had the pleasure of testing.

The 3000GT was introduced in 1991 and today has very little competition with the departure of the Nissan 300ZX and the Mazda RX-7 from this market. I really liked the twin turbo Nissan 300ZX in particular and was sad they pulled it from the market. Oh well. The only real competition left is the Toyota Supra at $30,918 – $40,308, and the Turbo is the closest with specs that are almost identical. Two insignificant differences are the engine, which is an in-line 6-cylinder instead of the V6 and the sunroof is not available on the Supra. Other cars that are considered competition include the Acura NSX at $84,000 – $88,000 (not even close), the Chevrolet Camaro at $16,625 – $27,450, Pontiac Firebird at $18,015 – $29,715 and the Ford Mustang at $15,970 – $28,430, (not quite), Dodge Avenger at $14,930 – $17,310 and Honda Prelude at $23,200 – $25,700 (haven’t driven them).

An area where I have to nit-pick the 3000GT is with the rear spoiler. I don’t think people need the downward force on the rear wheels provided by the spoiler nearly as much as they need good visibility. That damn thing falls smack dab in the middle of the rear window, obstructing the rear view. But to end on a positive note, the good news is that at night the aggravating glare of headlights are blocked as well.

Standard Equipment:

3.0 liter twin turbo intercooled V6 engine, 6-speed manual trans, climate controlled air conditioning, power windows and door locks and sideview mirrors, cruise control and height adjustable leather wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, dual airbags, power 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, full-time all wheel drive, four wheel steering, stainless steel exhaust, security system with keyless entry, 7-way adjustable driver seat, leather seats, 50/50 split folding rear seat, AM/FM stereo cassette / CD / 8-speaker sound system, auto-off headlights, cargo cover, performance rated tires on 18″ chrome plated alloy wheels, rear wiper / washer, power antenna and power sunroof .

Gas Stats:

18 City / 24 Highway MPG.

Pricing:

Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price is $46,230 and the model I drove added a CD changer for $675 and after those dreaded destination charges of $470 the total comes to $47,375.

For the dealer nearest you call 1 800 222 0037.

Mitsubishi Montero Sport LS 2WD (163)

Overview:

This week I was off to Dallas to test the Mitsubishi Montero Sport LS 2WD utility vehicle. It was a wonderful trip and in general this utility car is a strong competitor to all the others out there. But I have to digress a bit and tell you a little story. I did something I’ve never done before in my life.

I locked the keys in the car. But not to worry, I left them in the ignition. Better yet, I left the damn thing running. Surely they wouldn’t manufacturer a car that would let me do all that. Right…guess again. You can do that. Since this was a new experience for me, I got real nervous. What if it heats up, catches on fire, or some such disaster? Should I break the window now or wait for smoke? I checked my purse to see if I had another set of keys. Just kidding…. Press cars only come with one set of keys. If they can put a man on the moon you’d think they could find a way to keep dummies like me from doing this. How could they allow the door to be locked with the keys in the ignition, engine running and me not be in the car?

Also, why do they make these cars so damn quiet? I didn’t even find out it was still running until the guy came with the “Slim-Jim” break in tools. You can imagine how relieved I felt when I learned the parking facility had the tools, but there’s good news and bad news. It was good they had the tools, but it was bad when they couldn’t get past some new stuff Mitsubishi put in the doors to prevent such break-ins. The guy quit trying after a half hour and called a professional criminal. You know, the guys the car companies are protecting us against. You guessed it; the new gadgets slowed the criminal down for about 30 seconds. Just kidding about the criminal. It was actually an Auto Club guy that came out after about an hour (stuck in traffic) and when I turned the engine off it had been more than an hour. No smoke, no fire and no sweat–I had left the air conditioning on too. In fact the engine temperature gauge didn’t move at all…but you know the gas gauge did.

Well, after that little fiasco I was madder at me than at Mitsubishi. I hope the Congress doesn’t read this. They might want to pass another law. No locking your keys in the car, or manufacturers must prevent dummies like me from doing that.

The Montero Sport is a smaller version of the original Montero and is offered in four models; the ES 2WD 2.4 liter 4-cylinder engine, the LS 2WD, the LS 4WD and the XLS 4WD which are powered by the 3.0 liter V6 engine. It is a five-passenger utility that competes with the Nissan Pathfinder (that I liked a lot), the Toyota 4Runner, Honda Passport (I haven’t driven it), Isuzu Rodeo, Chevrolet Blazer (one of my favorites) and the Jeep Cherokee (the granddaddy of them all). I got a good feeling from this sport utility and recommend you keep it in your line-up if you’re looking for one of these very versatile vehicles.

Standard Equipment:

3.0 Liter 24 Valve V6 engine, 4-speed automatic trans, power steering, front disc and rear drum brakes, dual air bags, child protected rear door locks, AM/FM stereo cassette with 6 speakers, 60/40 split fold rear seat, full cabin carpeting, adj. steering column, dual vanity mirrors, 2-12 V outlets, overhead console and 5,000 lb. tow capacity.

Gas Stats:

19 City/ 22 Highway

Pricing:

Manufacturers suggested retail price is $21,820. The model I tested included the following options: Anti-lock braking system for $610; premium package including 15 inch alloy wheels, chrome grille, fender flares and side steps, leather wrapped steering wheel, upgraded audio system, and power sunroof for $3,070; power windows, door locks, mirrors and cruise control for $829; 10-disc CD changer for $675; air conditioning, floor mats and cargo net and wheel locks for $1,087 that brought the total to $28,536.

For the dealer nearest you, call 800/222-0037. u

Joe Mavilia is a syndicated columnist with more than 30 years in the automotive industry. He is a member of the Motor Press Guild, Automotive Press Association and Colorado Press Association.