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The USA misses the Mitsubishi Montero

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The Mitsubishi Montero was sold in North America for about two decades ending in 2006. Known as the Pajero and Shogun elsewhere, the Mitsubishi Montero started as a three-door, four passenger SUV that was marketed in the United States as the Montero or the Dodge Raider. From the day it first hit our shores, the Mitsubishi Montero was one of the most capable off road SUVs in the segment.

The ride (for the time) was excellent. With an independent front suspension (double wishbone) and front torsion-springs, the Montero was one of the first SUVs to appeal to non off-road types. Shortly after the three-door’s introduction, a family-friendly five-door Mitsubishi Montero was introduced and sales climbed. As the Mitsubishi Montero’s design matured, so did its price.

Our final version in North America was an unusual cross between a serious off-road vehicle and a crossover wagon. It had a four-wheel independent suspension, three rows of seats and a uni-body design that dispensed with the heavy sub-frame. It road comfortably and was easy to drive while still having the chops for real off road duty.

The Mitsubishi Montero has a glorious racing history winning the Dakar 15 times.

I owned a first and second generation Mitsubishi Montero and have driven the third generation in Moab, UT and in the sand dunes of Oregon. They were rugged, capable and utilitarian while having acceptable street manners. I miss them all and kick myself for selling the old ones.

In the end, the Montero’s sales slumped due to excessive prices, tepid power and (in 2001) Consumer Reports rating the Mitsubishi Montero as “unsafe”. That rating was earned despite Mitsubishi’s statement, “We have searched our records and found no reported incidents or complaints of rollover crashes in this vehicle, not one.” – – Pierre Gagnon, Mitsubishi’s chief American executive. (Sourced via Autotrader)

By 2006, the Mitsubishi Montero was removed from Mitsubishi’s North American fleet.

Folks, I must admit I was very sad to see the Montero go – and so were many of you. Fortunately, the Montero goes on and has had further refinement since departing our shores. Would you believe, they have a version that can seat nine WITH a manual transmission?

There are a host of engines on the current model including a 250PS (246.58 hp) 3.8L 24-valve V6 and a 2.8L 16-valve DOHC common rail DI-D The 3.2-liter DI-D (Direct Injection Diesel) that makes 162 hp and 275 lbs-ft of torque. A five-speed manual comes standard and a four-speed automatic is optional. Super Select 4WDII is standard with a rear differential lock optional.

From what I’m told, it’s still a good on-road performer and, with the heavy-duty suspension option, is excellent off road.

Will the Mitsubishi Montero ever come back to North America? Probably not. In its current form, it would have an uphill battle on its hands. Still, I hear word that Mitsubishi is preparing a completely different Montero coming in the next few years. Who knows? Maybe it can make it back to our turf in a new form. I only hope it will be as capable as its ancestors.

I’ll keep an eye out for any updates.

Check out this fun, old off road video with the Mitsubishi Outlander!

Easily amused by anything with four wheels, Nathan Adlen reviews vehicles from the cheapest to the most prestigious. Wrecking yards, dealer lots, garages, racetracks, professional automotive testing and automotive journalism – Nathan has experienced a wide range of the automotive spectrum. His words, good humor and videos are enjoyed worldwide.