Anton Andres / Jose Altoveros | December 13, 2017 17:31
Far from basic
Ever since its first drive, we've commended the Mitsubishi Montero Sport as one of the most capable pickup platform vehicles (PPV) you can buy today. With its good ride (for a truck-based SUV), advanced eight-speed automatic, rugged underpinnings and seats for seven, it's safe to say that that Montero Sport is an SUV worthy of your shortlist.
We've tested just about every variant (sans the non-Premium GLS) there is for the popular PPV but Mitsubishi decided to add yet another one. Dubbed the GLX, it now serves as the entry-level model of the range. Will the base model lose some of the sparkle that made it such a recommended buy? There's only one way to find out.
While the GLX is the least expensive way to get into a Montero Sport, one can applaud Mitsubishi for not making it look basic. It looks exactly like the GLS, the base model with an automatic transmission. It has the same wheels and chrome trimmings and it even has the fog lights and roof rails from its higher-spec stablemates. The only way to know that it is entry-level Montero Sport is with the GLX badge on its tailgate and the lack of reverse sensors. On the outside at least, it gives off the impressions that this isn't a stripped down model.
As we are on the subject of its exterior, it's styling is still up for debate a year on. I do have to say that the front looks good with its aggressive upswept headlights complementing its 'Dynamic Shield' grill. The box-flare wheelarches give it a wider stance and more chiseled edges, a break from the slab-sided look from some of its competitors.
The rear, however, will likely to be a 'love it or hate it' affair until the all-new model comes out (don't hold your breath for it. It will be several years in the making). 'Interesting' or 'distinct' would be a nice way to say it but personally, I wish they cut the tail lights shorter. Well, you can't call Mitsubishi lazy for not trying to give the rear that bit more flair.
Inside, it's surprisingly much the same as the GLS, save for the loss of some features. The GLX comes with two less speakers, for a total of four, and the infotainment system does not come with the smartphone integration feature and navigation. It does get the same black fabric trim on the GLS, along with a driver's seat that, oddly enough, does not come with a height adjuster. Yes, there is a knob to adjust the bottom of the seat cushion, but it does little to boost you up.
What is surprising is the fact that it still comes with a touchscreen, a comprehensive multi-information display, automatic climate control, steering wheel mounted audio controls and even cruise control. Needless to say, the Montero Sport is still very well equipped, even in its most basic form.
As for space, the Montero Sport may look wide on the outside but it's actually the narrowest in its segment. That translates into interior room. Although headroom and legroom are generous, fitting three medium-build adults in the second row might be a bit of a squeeze. The third row on the other hand is best for those below 5'6". Speaking of which, setting up these seats means pulling a tab to raise the back rests and getting back in the car to put the seat bases in place. Fortunately, stowing them is a lot easier by simply pulling two tabs. The rather cumbersome third-row seat mechanism does mean you get a flat floot, perfect for carrying long and wide items.
The Montero Sport GLX gets the same 2.4-liter, four-cylinder MIVEC diesel seen in all variants of the PPV. That means power is rated at 184 PS and a torque figure of 430 Nm. Like the GLS 4x4, it shifts via a six-speed manual transmission and, instead of an electronic parking brake, you get a good old handbrake. Power is then transferred to the rear wheels, just like the rest of its two-wheel drive competition.
When I started driving the car, the first thing I noticed was its clutch. Whereas the the 4x4, manual-equipped Montero needed more effort to depress the pedal, this two-wheel drive version seemed to have a lighter clutch. So much so that I actually didn't mind driving it around the metro, holiday jams and all. The biting point on the other hand is the same as the 4x4, which is a little on the high side. Shifter feel, on the other hand, is rubbery but the throw was short considering it's a PPV. All things considered however, one wouldn't mind using it for the daily drive.
Shifter feel aside, the Montero Sport GLX retains most of the good traits of its higher-spec variants. Ride is on the soft side, with a hint of wallow at the rear while it seems like it is less firm at the front than the 4x4 variant. That means it soaks up the pothole-riddled streets of the metro and rough provincial byways with relative ease. With that suspension tuning however, don't expect it to be nimble or sharp. Body roll is present but it's not unnerving and can be best described as secure. It's a good thing as there is no traction control or stability control present in the car. That said, the steering offers good feel and feedback and little of the off-center vagueness associated with pickup-based SUVs. If you can get a better feel of where the wheels are pointed, the better it is for accident avoidance.
The MIVEC diesel works well with the six-speed manual, both in the city and out on the open road. The long gearing keeps the revs low on the highway while variable valve timing makes overtaking as easy as knocking down one gear and a small squeeze on the throttle. Given its performance, fuel economy figures were impressive. At a mere 14 km/h, the Montero Sport GLX displayed an average of 8.5 kilometers per liter on its info display. Out on the highway, that figure moves up to 16.7 kilometers per liter at an average speed of 93 km/h. This was achieved by putting the car in cruise control and keeping it in sixth gear.
At Php 1,415,000, the Montero Sport GLX is Php 160,000 less than the next variant, the GLS. One could argue that they will be willing to put out more cash for the convenience of an automatic. However, if you do a lot of driving outside the metro or spend most of your time in light traffic, perhaps the entry-level manual Montero Sport could be the PPV for you. While paddle shifters allow you to downshift, one could also say that a manual transmission adds that bit more speed control when driving downhill.
To answer the question earlier, the Montero Sport in GLX trim does not lose the traits that makes the model range impressive. Yes, it may lose some features but, as a whole, it won't leave you shortchanged. The standard equipment list is still impressive and it retains the character of the higher variants. Simply put, no matter the variant, the Montero Sport deserves a spot in your PPV shortlist.