The Mitsubishi Montero Sport is one of the mid-size SUVs we've always liked. The current generation, launched back in 2016, was always a joy to have around the office. It drives great, it rides great, easy on fuel, and packs a punch. It's a consummate all-rounder and a solid choice if you're in the market for an SUV.
Fast forward to this year and Mitsubishi has given it a bit of a nip and tuck. Sure, the changes feel cosmetic, but there's so much more under the skin, as it turned out. So, what's it like, then? We'll give you the low down on what we liked, and didn't, in the 2020 Montero Sport.
Like: The new look
Opinions about the styling of the Montero Sport will always be divided. The thing is, it's what makes the SUV unique in its class, so whether you like it or not, you still made some buzz about it since you talked about it.
But I have to say the tweaks made the Montero Sport look more muscular, thanks to the chiseled bumpers, new light arrangement, and new wheels. Even the rear has been made more palatable for some, who moaned about the 'crying eyes' of the 2016 to 2019 model. All in all, it's a step in the right direction for the Montero Sport.
Sure, the design will still be up for debate, especially the rear end, but in our eyes, it's a good looking SUV. Besides, there's literally thousands of them on the road. Surely, you can't call out all the owners for choosing this over its more 'conventionally styled' rivals, right?
Don't like: Limited color choices
Want the 2020 Montero Sport in dark blue or dark bronze? Well, you can't. That's because it was, apparently, not a popular color choice over the past couple of years. A shame since we'd like to see more color options in cars, especially now in an age of white, silver, black, or gray, which also happen to be the Montero Sport's color choices if you can call those colors.
Still, at least they kept red, just to add some zing to the current range. If I were to get one, I'd definitely go for that.
Like: Improved ride
Hold up. We've always claimed that the Montero Sport was one of the best riding truck-based SUVs out there. So why say the ride has been improved?
See, the Montero Sport of 2016 had this rather unusual characteristic. The ride was soft at the back but felt rather firm in front. Normally, it's the other way around so this time, Mitsubishi balanced it out. Thankfully, they didn't stiffen the rear to match the front. Instead, they softened the front to balance out the rear. The effect is an even smoother ride and that made for comfortable cruising.
Don't like: That third-row mechanism
If there's one thing I really wish Mitsubishi would change in the Montero Sport, that would be the third-row mechanism. To put it bluntly, it's downright awkward and difficult to set and stow those extra seats, which should be a simple one-step thing by now.
Current Montero Sport owners can relate to this. To put the third row up, you have to pull the back rests with a strap, then pull the seat bases down into place with some force. If you're short, like I am, you'll have to go to the second row and push it into place until it locks. Repeat the same process for the other seat.
At least stowing them is less of a hassle but you'll still have to pull two straps to put them out of sight. I do get what Mitsubishi is trying to do here though, and that's provide a lower and flatter cargo area when the seats are not in place. It's a good idea, but there has to be an easier way to move these seats around to achieve that. Besides, they've shown it's possible with the Xpander.
Like: Smartphone friendly
We now live in an age where connecting your smartphone to just about anything has become a necessity. Thankfully, the Montero Sport is keeping up with the times by giving it a totally new infotainment system.
Gone is the old head unit that was limited in capability. It's been replaced by one that's bang up to date and now includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. So for those who don't like fiddling around the infotainment system to link Bluetooth, all you have to do is plug in your phone and that's it. You have your phonebook laid out to you, Set Waze to your next destination, send a message via voice commands, and even play songs from Spotify, without ever reaching for your phone.
Another thing worth mentioning is that Mitsubishi didn't scrimp on USB ports. There are two in front and even an extra one at the back. They even threw in a 220-volt socket for those seated in the second-row, so you can even charge other devices such as laptops. The best part is, these five charging ports are standard even in the entry-level GLS variant. Now, you don't have an excuse not to be able to charge your phone in a Montero Sport...unless you forgot your cord.
Don't like: No seat height adjuster on GLS
I appreciate the fact that the Montero Sport comes with a telescopic steering wheel. It lets someone with short arms (like myself) to be able to steer the car comfortably without compromising driving position. However, the GLS grade is missing one feature that would have been great for the vertically challenged folk.
The GLS does not come with a seat height adjuster, which I think should be added since the Montero Sport is a rather sizable vehicle. That's not to say that I couldn't see over the wheel as the seats are mounted pretty high up, but it would've been better if I could set the seat even higher. It does come with a knob that tilts the base of the seat, but it does little to change the height. At least the top-spec GT comes with power seats with height adjusters.
Like: Feel and feedback
Now, I'm not suggesting that the Montero Sport handles like a Lancer Evolution. It's far from it. But what I like about it is the fact that I have feel and feedback from the steering wheel, which adds confidence when taking on corners. Steering is precise (for a truck-based SUV) which is a bonus in this segment.
That extra feel and feedback came in handy when I had to take evasive action to avoid a chicken that had suddenly crossed the road. I knew exactly where the car was pointed and the direction it was heading, so it never felt that the SUV would show any nasty handling characteristics such as the feeling of tipping over. It also helped that it comes with stability control, a must in vehicles like this, I say.
Don't like: Brake feel
While it steers well (again, for a truck-based SUV), I do have to say something about the brakes. It's not that they're not strong enough, it's that it doesn't offer much feedback. Light presses on the brake pedal felt a bit on the spongy side, and your senses tell you that you're not slowing down. However, you see that the background is becoming less of a blur, confirming to your head that you are, indeed, stepping on the brakes.
To sum up, the brakes are decent, but lack feel. Then again, a lot of SUVs in the segment feel like that, but I hope they find a way to mend that.
Like: Performance and economy
We've become accustomed to the 2.4-liter MIVEC turbodiesel in the Montero Sport. It feels punchy and gutsy, making quick work of overtaking maneuvers. The transmission is worth mentioning too, and it seems to react quicker than last year's model, which is great for passing. It's pretty quiet as well, staying relatively hushed when you're inside.
Having eight forward gears to work with did favors to fuel consumption too. After driving through hills, steep inclines, and keeping it on idle for minutes on end (photoshoots and stop overs), it never dipped below 9 kilometers per liter. We expect it to still be as efficient as pre-facelift model, which showed pretty impressive figures.
An SUV worthy of your shortlist
As the saying goes, there's no such thing as the perfect car. The Montero Sport isn't exempted from that. Sure, there are things we wish Mitsubishi would improve upon, but I wouldn't exactly call them deal breakers. At the end of the day, you get a comfortable, practical SUV that's up to date in terms of infotainment, and it's easy on fuel too.
We recommended the Montero Sport before, and we wouldn't hesitate to recommend it now. A full review, you ask? Well that's coming soon.