Mid-sized SUVs are a necessary evil in the Philippines. Not only do they provide enough space to ferry the entire clan, but they provide the water wading capability so necessary for flood-prone streets. Yet, there are some who cannot accept them for their lack of driving dynamics and refinement. Enthusiasts were beginning to dismiss them until the all-new Mitsubishi Montero Sport arrived. Categorically, this is the best mid-sized SUV out there.
If you’re used to driving a compact crossover for decades, it’s surprising how little adjustment is needed to pilot the Montero Sport. Indeed, Mitsubishi engineers have aced their homework the moment you climb aboard. The step-in height isn’t too high per se, but consideration must be practiced as not to soil pant legs on the protruding side step boards. Thankfully, the pillar-mounted grab handles make ingress much easier.
Settling in, the front seats are easily the best among the new PPVs (Pickup-based Passenger Vehicles)—comfortable, supportive, and feel like they’ve been lifted straight off a sports sedan. Those in the second row will the same way; but those in the last row will feel tight. Yes, accommodating two adults back there is possible, but they must be willing to get cozy with their knees slightly bent up. The headroom is also lacking for its size, but if you prefer to sit low (or is vertically challenged), then that shouldn’t be a problem. And if you don’t have a basketball team for a family, dropping the third row gives a flat, cavernous cargo room.
More than just the seats, the designers have also hit a homerun with the cabin. There are a lot of stalks, switches, and buttons straight from the Mitsubishi parts bin, but they’ve been laid out in a very easy to understand, very easy to operate manner. The fit and finish are top-notch with the aluminum and piano black accents creating a sporty feel. The gauges, lit in high-contrast LED with a multi-info center display, are legible while the touchscreen infotainment system features crisp graphics. The only glaring thing missing is the cubby holes. Despite being fitted with a lockable glove box and deep center bin, there’s nowhere to put things like mobile phones and other stuff. Worse yet, even your iPod will have to dangle in full view when you plug it into the USB port located just above the shifter.
In terms of styling, there’s little doubt that the Montero Sport’s a head turner. Though not everyone is being won over with the new design, the whole Dynamic Shield concept has elevated this mid-sized SUV above its peers. It definitely has design cred—looking like it came from the future, mixing a strong high-tech vibe with rugged cues. The rear is perhaps the most controversial part, but it’s been done for practicality: the drooping tail lights and cut-off rear bumper do make for the biggest and lowest tailgate opening in its class.
On the business end, the Monty has an all-new 2.4-liter MIVEC clean diesel engine. It’s a common engine shared with all variants of the 2016 Montero Sport and it’s easily one of the best powerplants in the PPV segment. It’s quiet at idle with minimal clatter. Also, it doesn’t get much louder as the speeds go up, making conversations between passengers easy even at high speed. Apart from refinement, there’s good pull too. Initially, it feels sluggish because pushing 1,935 kilograms of mass can be difficult, but once it gets going, the power is there. The engagement isn’t linear, so keeping the throttle feathered and the revs in the sweet spot, is a must for optimal operation. The best practice is to apply around 70 to 80 percent throttle to rocket off smoothly; anything more feels a bit jerky. Thankfully, the 8-speed automatic is a willing ally, shifting up and down quickly, keeping the engine singing happily. You can even flick gears yourself with the steering wheel paddle shifters. In terms of fuel economy, this GLS Premium 2WD does 9.90km/L in a mixed setting (7.57 km/L city, 14.92 km/L highway).
Compared to the rest, the Montero Sport has the best ride and handling. With thicker front sway bars, rear suspension lateral mounts, and improved geometry, it glides through potholes whether it has 2 or 6 occupants. It doesn’t get upset by small and undulating ruts while also absorbing sharper and larger obstacles better. The solid body structure also contributes to improved comfort and quietness. The only complaint is the constant shuddering from the second row if it’s unoccupied. In tighter confines, the quicker steering ratio and reduced turns lock-to-lock lend good maneuverability. Together with the large side mirrors and large glass area, it’s as easy to drive as a compact crossover. The four-wheel disc brakes (with larger two-piston ventilated up front) bite excellently with good feel and modulation.
It’s only at high speeds where the ladder-on-frame chassis limitations are felt. Though the ride remains polished, wind noise from the mirrors start to enter the cabin. The steering numbs and lightens up too, reducing high speed driving confidence. Nonetheless, it’s still way better than any PPV when it comes to conquering straight patches of road. Furthermore, it handles corners and curves tidily with controlled body movements and surprisingly responsive steering.
Considering how mid-sized SUVs have now jumped up in pricing, the Montero Sport manages to balance the value-for-money equation very well. Priced at P 1,685,000, this GLS Premium comes loaded not just with the usual dual SRS airbags, anti-lock brakes with EBD, brake assist, and rear parking sensors; but you also get four additional airbags, Mitsubishi’s Active Stability and Traction Control (M-ASTC), and trailer stability assist. And that’s on top of the LED headlights and tail lights, 18-inch alloy wheels, dual zone climate control, passive keyless entry, leather seats, and many more. By far, your peso goes the farthest here.
People have varying and sometimes personal reasons for choosing a particular PPV over another. And it’s based on these criteria whether or not the Montero Sport fits your lifestyle. With the only nays being the smaller than average interior and lack of storage space, it stands out as a great SUV because it’s easily the most refined and polished out there. The 2016 Montero Sport proves that mid-sized SUVs need not be necessary evils anymore; it becomes the well-informed choice.
2016 Mitsubishi Montero Sport GLS Premium 2WD
|Ownership||2016 Mitsubishi Montero Sport GLS Premium 2WD 8 A/T|
|Vehicle Classification||Mid-sized SUV|
|Body Type||5-door SUV|
|Engine / Drive||F/R|
|Under the Hood|
|Aspiration||Common Rail, Variable Valve Timing, Turbo|
|Layout / # of Cylinders||I4|
|BHP @ rpm||181 @ 3,500|
|Nm @ rpm||430 @ 2,500|
|Fuel / Min. Octane||Diesel|
|Dimensions and Weights|
|Curb Weight (kg)||1,935|
|Suspension and Tires|
|Front Suspension||Independent, Double Wishbone|
|Rear Suspension||3-Link with Coil Spring and Stabilizer Bar|
|Front Brakes||Vented Disc|
|Tires||Dunlop AT20 GrandTrek 265/60 R 18 H (f & r)|
|Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS)||Yes|
|Traction / Stability Control||Yes|
|Parking Sensors||Yes, w/ Rear Camera|
|Fog Lamps||Yes, Front and Rear|
|Steering Wheel Adjustment||Tilt/Telescopic|
|Steering Wheel Material||Leather|
|Seating Adjustment||Electric (driver)|
|Folding Rear Seat||Yes, 60/40 (2nd row); 50/50 (3rd row)|
|Power Door Locks||Yes|
|Power Mirrors||Yes, with Fold|
|Climate Control||Yes, Dual with Rear Manual|
|No. of Speakers||6|
|Steering Wheel Controls||Yes|