2000 Montero New Car Test Drive
With its lean, muscular lines, Mitsubishi's Montero Sport has been one of the best-looking sport-utilities. For 2000, the Montero Sport features fresh styling and a refined interior.
But underneath, the news is even better: For 2000, the Montero Sport gets a new coil-spring rear suspension -- a significant improvement over the less-expensive leaf springs that locating the rear live axle on the 1999 model. The new three-link setup with coil springs offers improved control on the highway and better articulation off road.
If you're new to the Mitsubishi stable, don't confuse the Montero Sport with its bigger brother, the older Montero. (The Montero uses a similar rear coil spring suspension system, but starts near $32,000 and often tops $38,000 with all the options.)
For 1999, Mitsubishi stuffed the Montero's bigger 3.5-liter V6 into the Montero Sport Limited model. This 3.5-liter V6 produces 200 horsepower -- compared with 173 horsepower for the 3.0-liter V6 that goes in the other Montero Sport models.
SUV shoppers on a budget will now look elsewhere as the entry-level model has risen from less than $19,000 last year to more than $22,500 for 2000. The reason is simple: the less expensive 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine and manual transmission are no longer available. For 2000, all Montero Sport models come standard with a V6 and automatic.
Three trim levels are available with the 173-horsepower 3.0-liter V6. The lineup starts with the $22,527 ES with two-wheel drive. The $24,777 LS adds privacy glass, fender flares, a split rear seat, power windows and larger alloy wheels. An additional $2,030 adds the optional four-wheel-drive system, which lets you shift between two- and four-wheel drive at any speed. For $27,872 you get the two-wheel-drive XLS, which has luxury stuff like a power antenna, keyless remote entry, fog lights, side steps, and a leather steering wheel. (Add $455 destination charge to all prices.)
To get the bigger 3.5-liter engine, however, you have to buy the Limited, which adds a limited-slip rear differential and a rear seat heater, and runs $29,907 for the two-wheel-drive version. For 2000, the price of the Montero Sport Limited 4x4 is $31,357.
Why are all of these wagons available without four-wheel-drive? According to Mitsubishi, about 65 percent of buyers prefer the two-wheel-drive models. Everyone dreams of the big 4x4 trip, but these cars are used primarily for everyday transportation, the company says.