This decade was a big one for pickup-based SUVs. We first saw the new wave of these in 2013 when Chevrolet rolled out the Trailblazer. Longer, wider, and bigger than its contemporaries at the time. It was then followed by the Isuzu mu-X the year after.
But the years 2015 to 2016 was the big one. We saw all-new versions of the Ford Everest, Mitsubishi Montero Sport, and the Toyota Fortuner. Nissan was even forced to play catch up in 2018 with the Terra.
And now, we're at the second wave of these new-generation PPVs. The latest is the heavily revamped Mitsubishi Montero Sport. While it has a new(ish) look inside and out, it has to hit the ground running thanks to some competitors with updated models. How does it stack up, then?
The (revamped) competition
For all intents and purposes, we'll be using the Montero Sport GT 4x2, the range-topping two-wheel drive model. In alphabetical order, it has to face off the Chevrolet Trailblazer LTX, which got a heavy facelift in 2017. There's also the Ford Everest Titanium, getting a host of technical updates this year. Meanwhile, Isuzu's mu-X has the biggest engine here in 3.0 LS-A trim, gaining BluePower engine tech about two years ago.
Even Nissan updated the Terra VL 4x2 (and all the other variants) barely a year and a half in its life cycle. Last but not least is the Toyota Fortuner 2.4 V. While it doesn't look like Toyota has even bothered to update it, we're glad it got disc brakes at the back and a new touchscreen.
Size matters...or does it?
If you were to read the spec sheets of these PPVs now and a few years ago, their dimensions didn't change at all. Yes, there's the Nissan Terra, but the size arrangements of these six models are still pretty much the same.
Longest? That would be the Everest. Widest? That's the Trailblazer. As for height, the tallest of the bunch here is the mu-X, but you'll barely notice its 5 mm advantage over the next SUV.
So where does the Montero Sport fit in all of this? It may not look like it but the Mitsubishi is the smallest of the bunch in terms of, well, everything. It's the shortest, narrowest, and, erm, vertically challenged, of the six.
For the past six years, the Chervrolet Trailblazer has been on top of the list when it comes to power, in the 4x2 models at least. That's still the same case in 2019 with its best-in-class horsepower and torque rating. That's because Chevrolet sticks in the beefy Duramax turbodiesel engine in all variants except the base.
Not too far behind is the Nissan Terra, boasting the second most power and torque from its 2.5-liter turbodiesel. Still, the Montero puts up a good fight by placing third in the power stakes. That said, it barely pips the the fourth-placer in terms of horsepower, but it still has a clear advantage over torque. So who came in third? That's the Ford Everest getting a substantial boost in power. No longer saddled with the 2.2-liter TDCI engine, the new EcoBlue turbodiesel moves it up the power stakes.
The Isuzu may have come in fifth but it still trounces the PPV that comes in dead last, the Toyota Fortuner. Sure, the Toyota has the torque advantage but the Isuzu counters that by having a substantial 27 horsepower advantage.
Clearing the ruts
Admit it, you buy an SUV because it's high off the ground. Heck, it's the one of the main reasons we buy them in the first place. Which one can clear the highest speed bumps and gutters? That's the Isuzu mu-X, and by a clear margin too.
Tied in second are the Nissan Terra and Ford Everest, while the Chevrolet Trailblazer takes third. Tied for last are the Mitsubishi Montero Sport and Toyota Fortuner, but don't let the rankings put you off, all these SUVs can easily take on rough roads and potholes.
Floods? No problem!
With high ground clearance comes the ability to wade through floods with utmost confidence. Curiously though, the one with the most clearance here has the least wading capacity, which is the Isuzu mu-X. Taking in a little more water are the Montero Sport and Fortuner, which have the same water wading capacity if you check out the numbers. As for the rest of them (Trailblazer, Everest, Terra), they all claim 800 mm of wading capability.
While some of us wouldn't even dare push the limits of their said capacities, it's nice to know they can go that deep. It's much like a diver's watch: Sure, you won't go deep sea diving, but you're assured that your time piece will still keep working even in murky depths.
All these top-spec, two-wheel drive SUVs come with traction and stability control, which is a step in the right direction in the matters of safety. In terms of airbag count however, there are two that need to play catch up. The Chevrolet Trailblazer and Isuzu mu-X still make do with having dual front airbags and nothing more. We hope their next-generation models will come with additional airbags as standard.
Both the Nissan Terra and Mitsubishi Montero Sport come with six airbags with dual front, dual side, and dual curtain airbags. But it's the Toyota Fortuner and Ford Everest that lead the pack with seven each thanks to the addition of driver's side knee airbags.
When it comes to active safety features, it's a close fight between the Terra and Everest. The Everest boasts what Ford calls its Rollover Mitigation System, which should help the big SUV stay even more planted on the road. Even though the Nissan doesn't have that feature, it goes to the top of the pack with its Intelligent Mobility safety suite which includes an advanced rear-view mirror, 360-degree cameras, moving object detection, blind spot monitoring, and lane departure warning.
Upping the ante...and price
It's amazing to see how far these truck-based SUVs have come along in recent years. From bone-jarring, high-riding wagons on tall tires, they've grown into rather plush, comfortable, well-appointed, and most importantly, safe options for family cars. But such advancements in performance, safety, comfort, and refinement come at a price.
The most affordable of the six is the Isuzu mu-X 3.0 LS-A 4x2 at Php 1,795,000. In fact, it's the only one here under Php 1.8 million. It's followed by the Chevrolet Trailblazer LTX at Php 1,805,888. As for the rest, you're looking at the princely sum of Php 1.9 million and up.
The first to break the said figure is the Nissan Terra VL 4x2, retailing at Php 1,919,000. It's closely followed by the Toyota Fortuner 2.4 V with its base price of Php 1,921,000. Meanwhile, the Ford Everest Titanium is a whopping Php 1,995,000, but it's the Montero Sport that's the priciest at Php 1,998,000.
How does the Montero Sport fare?
By the looks of it, the Montero Sport doesn't really lead the class in any way if you were to base everything on the brochure. It's the smallest, and most expensive of the group too. On the flipside, the Montero Sport GT 2WD does put up respectable specs from its powertrain, as well as offering a fair amount of safety equipment. Plus, it can wade through a fairly deep flood if needed. Not class leading, but respectable nonetheless.
The thing is, specs are only half of the story. It doesn't tell us how the SUV will drive. We lauded the pre-facelift Montero Sport for its good ride and performance thanks to its MIVEC turbodiesel. Plus, it's packing a new look and more tech than before. Perhaps Mitsubishi did more enhancements under the skin to make us like it even more and we can't wait to take it out on the road for a real-world test.