An SUV manufactured by Mitsubishi Motors, the Montero didn’t really become a household name in the United States, but fans of true SUVs know what it’s really capable of. The fact is, this vehicle has been racing off-road around the world for decades. It even took home more than a few trophies in the famous Dakar Rally. Which is why even though Montero sales were discontinued in the US beginning 2006, the SUV remained to be sold in other countries.
First generation: A basic SUV
While the Mitsubishi Montero was not sold in the US until 1992, the first generation had already been sold in Japan from 1982 to 1991. Its structure, mechanical layout, and 4WD hardware were similar to what would be the second generation. However, the first generation was a bit smaller and was available in two-door form through the year 1990. Back then, the Montero didn’t have any third-row seat, and its interior had a dated look when compared based on current standards. Its features and appearance were also bare compared to later generations.
Second generation: Complete redesign
After selling what was basically the same style for nine years, a redesign was long due; so January 1991 saw the first of Mitsubishi Montero’s second generation, which was sold in the US from 1992 to 2000. Almost everything was new and the rest were further enhanced. The Montero’s new, larger body was made available in four different versions. These were Metal Top, Canvas Top Convertible, Semi-High Roof Wagon, and High Roof Wagon, which was the only long-wheelbase model. The lengths of each wheelbase also expanded—the short ones were stretched by 2.8 inches while the long one by 1.2 inches. As for its mechanics, the available engines included a 3.0-liter 12-valve SOHC with ECI-Multi electronic fuel injection and a 2.5-liter turbocharged diesel changed with an intercooler.
Third generation: The final US batch
The third and last generation of Mitsubishi Montero brought to the US was sold from 2001 to 2006, and it marked several key design changes from the previous model. The most significant of these was the switch from body-on-frame to unibody construction. This resulted to a lighter and stiffer chassis. The Montero’s suspension was also changed and became fully independent for the first time. These revisions, along with the switch from recirculating-ball steering to a more precise rack-and-pinion setup, ensured that the new model would be the best Mitsubishi Montero yet.
However, even with the many improvements made, the SUV never really cliqued with the common consumer, and so sales of the SUV stopped after 2006. Still, with or without the US market, the Mitsubishi Montero will continue driving its own way around the world.