Test Drive: Montero Sport GLS Premium 2.4D 2WD AT

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If you’ve ever ridden any SUV in the past six years, you know that it’s been a rough ride (sometimes literally). That’s why riding the latest iteration of the Montero Sport is one of the smoothest rides we’ve ever experienced.

Design: 4.5/5

Right off the bat, you will see major differences in design language when comparing the 12-year lineage of the Montero line to the latest 2016 beauty. Gone are the bulging bumpers and as protruding pieces of plastic. You get a streamlined design of modern engineering with the signature Mitsubishi Dynamic Shield front face and the robust body highlighted by a high belt line, while its 265/60R18 tires give it that two-tone look. The back still sports the unique tail light design that flows down to the tailgate. LED lights offer a streamlined and sexy look without sacrificing brightness and safety.

The driver side showcases a cockpit design. With the T-shaped high center console, imagine replacing the tilt/telescopic multi-function steering wheel with a control stick might as well be on a plane.

One issue for SUVs has always been legroom, with passengers feeling cramped due to
lack of space for the knees. This isn’t the car with the Montero Sport. The expansive, roomy feel of the front and rear passenger areas was made possible with the electric parking brake (EPB), which slimmed down the transmission tunnel (where the hand brake system is usually installed).

Overall, the Montero Sport 2016 really lives up to its design language of “Stylish and Comfortable Off-road SUV.”

Hardware: 4.5/5

The 2.4-liter MIVEC turbo diesel engine outputs a respectable 181 hp at 3,500 rpm and 430 Nm of torque. The aluminum engine is designed with “clean diesel” capabilities to comply with Euro 4 standards.

The paired 8-speed automatic transmission has a built-in sport mode, idle neutral control (INC), and a G-sensor. There are also sports shifters on the steering wheel. You can leave it up to the system to decide which gears to use, or you can shift like an F1 racer.

For safety, Mitsubishi’s reinforced impact safety evolution (RISE) body includes seven air bags for all occupants. ABS (antilock brakes) and EBD (electronic brake distribution) are standard, as are FCM (forward collision mitigation), BSW (blind spot warning), UMS (ultrasonic misacceleration mitigation system), and a rear view camera that’s especially useful when backing up.

User Experience:

On the Montero Sport, daily driving is a breeze despite the traffic jams, and it is particularly well-suited for long trips.

On a recent family vacation, the eight-hour drive through the expressways to Ilocos Norte was an eye-opener to this SUV’s capabilities. From rough roads, rain or shine; to boring straight ways or exciting zigzags and roundabouts; to stop overs and forgetting a bag before leaving, the passengers and the driver definitely did not feel any discomfort. This is one SUV that takes care of all its occupants even on the longest of drives. In particular, the combination of cruise control and hill assist made the long drive easy.

One thing that took some getting used to was the smart key. Gone are the days where you can simply leave your car running while your family waits for you, especially if you carry the car key in your pocket. When you step out of the car, your SUV turns into a whining R2D2 that doesn’t want to see you go.

Another thing to get used to is the handbrake. It’s just a switch now, and it takes some time to break the habit of reaching for the handbrake when you’re parked. One thing we haven’t quite figured out yet is how to release the electric parking brake if the battery dies. Will it still work or is there an emergency feature we can use like the keyless entry and ignition? Still researching on this one, folks.

Value: 4.5/5

Mitsubishi found the sweet spot in the pricing of the Montero variants, which are all sub PHP 2M. The Sport GLS Premium 2.4D 2WD AT variant we got has a PHP 1,685,000 price tag—definitely very attractive considering the entire package.

Cost of ownership, namely fuel economy and maintenance, is also reasonable and worry–free. So far, our customer experience for every maintenance milestone has been pleasant, and we believe the car should be maintained by the people trained to take care of it.

What’s Hot:

  • Supremely comfortable driving and riding experience
  • Stylish and robust design that speaks SUV the Mitsubishi way
  • Very attractive price point for the bells and whistles included in the whole package

What’s Not:

  • Driver needs to unlearn old habits and adjust to small details—e.g., car keys, hand brakes, all the annoying beeps
  • Fully reliant on electronics. What do you do if the battery dies and the electric hand brake stops working?
  • The overhang of the rear over the wheel base is a little long

Bottomline:

Style, comfort, performance, and spectator envy. What’s not to love? From its 12-year old lineage, the Montero Sport has peaked. It’s hard to imagine where Mitsubishi will take it from here on.

Also published in GADGETS MAGAZINE August 2016 issue

Words by Benji Ortiz

Photos by Barry Ortiz