It could be said that the Mitsubishi Montero Sport is one of the firm favorites in the mid-size SUV class. Through the years, it's become one of Mitsubishi's best-sellers; not just here, but abroad as well. This year, it celebrates a significant milestone.
This 2021, the Montero Sport turns 25. In a quarter-century, Mitsubishi has produced three generations. with the fourth-generation model coming soon. But while we're waiting for the all-new Montero Sport, now is a good time to take a look at its past and wonder what the future will be like for the popular Mitsubishi.
Production of the Montero Sport began in 1996 and the formula has been the same since. Like the present model, the first-generation shares the same chassis as the Strada of that era. There were, however, some parts shared with the Pajero. Initially, it had a 3.0-liter V6 but turbo-diesel options quickly became available. Some of you might recall the early models landing here as gray market imports.
The Philippines would have to wait until 2004 for the official launch. The local-spec Montero Sport had the same 2.8-liter diesel from the Pajero Fieldmaster. It didn't seem like it at the time, but it kicked off the wave of pick-up platform vehicles in the country. When it ended production in 2008, the first-generation model sold for over a decade.
When the second-generation Montero Sport arrived in 2008, it addressed two shortcomings of the previous model, namely the size and seating capacity. The body grew significantly compared to the first-generation, and that allowed it to come with three-row seating. New engines also joined the mix with a choice of 2.5 liter or 3.2-liter turbodiesels. There was even a V6 offered for a short time.
The revolutionary changes made to the SUV helped Mitsubishi in the local sales race. It was also one of the models that started a new wave of pick-up based SUVs with an emphasis on passenger comfort, more car-like dynamics, and features.
Thankfully, we didn't have to wait for 12 years for the third-generation to arrive in late 2015. Like the previous model, it boasted revolutionary updates and upgrades. Aside from the new frame, the 2.4-liter turbodiesel became the first in its class with variable valve timing. It also became the first SUV in its segment to offer more than six speeds with its eight-speed automatic transmission.
Mitsubishi also boosted its safety features. Most models became available with stability control and six airbags. The top-spec GT 4WD even came with something called Ultrasonic Misacceleration Mitigation System that slams on the brakes and reels in engine power in cases of pedal misapplication. The 2019 facelift saw even more safety features, namely blindspot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and a 360-degree-view camera, to name a few.
Last year, Mitsubishi announced that the fourth-generation Montero Sport will arrive by 2022. For now, they're not mentioning any details yet, but expectations are high for Mitsubishi's SUV. With the company discontinuing the Pajero, the Montero Sport now serves as the flagship frame-based SUV for the brand. That means the all-new model should come with more tech and an even more premium feeling. At the same time, the future model shouldn't have a dramatic price increase as it sits in the competitive and price-sensitive mid-size SUV market.
Mitsubishi has a lot riding on the 2022 Montero Sport, not just in the Philippines but for the future of the company. That's because the Japanese automaker was tasked to spearhead sales of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance in Southeast Asia.
Still, given Mitsubishi's track record with the Montero Sport, it could be another revolutionary redesign.