Call this one, Montero Smart
Text and photos by Eric Tipan
The Montero Sport is a spin-off model of the famed Pajero nameplate, which explains why it’s as prodigious as its namesake when it goes off-roading.
These days though, that really isn’t the main reason people continue to buy it. As Mitsubishi’s third most popular model in the country, it continues to sell in five digits annually primarily because of its looks and styling, followed closely by the creature comforts and amenities it offers.
That being said, Mitsubishi still packed the 2019 facelift with significant updates to up the driver/user experience and take it to a level that now blurs the line between the Montero and the more expensive Pajero.
The six-year old design gets major changes on the fascia that include an improved Dynamic Shield design concept with an added slat in the grille to make it look fuller and more futuristic, a reconfigured front lighting system with dual-layer LED headlamps and the daytime running lights (DRLs) combo, and the large aperture right below holds the LED fog lamps and turn signal indicators.
It gets LED taillights, new and more elaborate underbody garnishes (front and back), and a reshaped rear spoiler.
What I’m most impressed about are how much better the seats are now. No, not because they’re leather but how they’re more cushy and better bolstered than previous models. The leather is taut, feels contoured to the body now, and has better support.
My first impression of the cabin is it’s highly packed. Mitsubishi has fitted it with a lot of new tech (more on that later) that there’s barely any room to squeeze your hand/fingers in should items slip between the cracks.
The leather multi-function steering wheel can get overwhelming in the beginning. There are buttons for telephony, audio, cruise control, and one for the multi-information display. That’s four sets, plus the paddle shifters at the back.
Thankfully the center stack is simpler, comes with a large LCD touchscreen (with Bluetooth connectivity, GPS navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto), a button for the power tailgate, and the automatic climate control system with Nanoe air purifying system.
There are two USB ports in front and another two in the second row, plus, it comes with a 220-volt power outlet as well. Now you can even charge laptops while on the road.
Another new feature is the sunroof, albeit smaller for its segment, but still better than nothing.
While none of the above is out of the ordinary, what needs getting used to is the Start/Stop button that’s positioned on the left side of the dashboard (under the leftmost aircon vent) instead of the usual right side.
With a 218 mm ground clearance, people will appreciate an abundance of grab handles in the cabin to make getting in easier. There’s one on the A- and B-pillar, and then one overhead in both rows.
There are also overhead aircon vents in the second row.
The third row should be good for two children or stowed away to increase cargo space to 1,700 liters.
Powering it is the same 2.4L diesel engine with Variable Geometry Turbo (VGT) and MIVEC (Mitsubishi Innovative Valve timing Electronic Control). It sends 181 PS and 430 Nm of torque to its Super Select 4WD-II system via an eight-speed automatic transmission with manual mode.
While certainly smaller than the previous 3.0L and 2.5L engines it had, it doesn’t fall short of expectations. It has a considerable amount of pull with added throttle pressure and can make its 2-ton body feel light with some momentum.
The rack and pinion power steering system is honest and while you’ll find it easy to maneuver with a 5.6 m turning radius, your arms won’t fool you into thinking it’s a crossover. Its weight partly helps in keeping it stable but the suspension also does a great job keeping four wheels glued to the road even during fast turns.
Comfort is what can be expected from a truck-based SUV. There’s a fair amount of rigidity, which gets magnified on rough road patches, but nothing like the Strada. The Montero Sport does get extra treatment to cancel out noise, vibration, and harshness.
But we haven’t even gotten to the best part yet. Aside from basic stuff like ABS (Anti-lock Braking System), Active Stability and Traction Control, and Hill Start/Descent Assist, this range-topping model gets Trailer Stability Assist, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, plus more advanced features like Forward Collision Mitigation (uses radar and autonomously brakes if your approach to the vehicle in front too fast), Blind Spot Warning with Lane Change Assist (an icon on the outer rear mirrors blinks when there’s a vehicle on your blindside), Ultrasonic Misacceleration Mitigation System (to address the SUA issue), and my favorite, adaptive cruise control.
All that of course, comes with a price and it’s pegged at PhP 2.450 million.
Pricey? Very, but bear in mind, this third-generation model is now so much more than just its good looks and Mitsubishi’s SUV prowess. A whole slew of safety and connectivity features just made the Montero Sport GT 2.4D 4WD AT its smartest version yet.