A Fascinating Evolution
Mitsubishi Montero History
The Mitsubishi Montero first appeared in Costa Rica with the 1985 – 1991 model. The Montero and the Sport version have always been considered a class act and are highly regarded by Ticos. They tend to have lots of options befitting a higher end SUV. The early models are an excellent choice for those who want a good SUV for around $6000. In 1992 the design was upgraded, Mitsubishi added body side moldings and improvements to the suspension and interior. Because of this styling prices are higher than earlier models, which can happen quite often in Costa Rica, so you want to be careful. For example, if you want a 1992 model, you will find prices similar all the way through the 1998 model, so you can always get a better year for a little more money. Whereas, in 1999 the body style and model were changed again, so they are significantly more expensive than a 1998 model. The 1999 – 2000 models are “tweeners”. They have more features, more power and a better suspension than the earlier models, but the 2001 and newer models have a distinctive new “cheeky” look and major improvements to the options package, in addition to more power in the drive train and improved handling.
In 1997 the Montero Sport version was introduced, this is much less boxy than the Montero, introducing the new line of Mitsubishi styling, and has room for only 5 passengers. The Sport’s off-road capabilities are very similar to the Montero. The Montero Sport was originally marketed as the Nativa, so 1997 models will carry this designation. In 2010 the Montero Sport name was changed again, reverting to the original Nativa moniker.
Montero SUV Features and Options
The Mitsubishi Montero is a large, luxury SUV in Costa Rica. If you are looking for an SUV with an automatic transmission, they are more common in the Montero than in other SUVs. 2001 and newer limited edition models offer the “sportronic” transmission, which allows you to choose between automatic transmission shifting, or manual shifting. This is very important in off-road situations, and also in mountain driving, where automatic transmissions are indecisive or inaccurate because they can’t recognize upcoming road conditions.
The Montero offers seating for seven passengers. The spare tire is mounted on the cargo door, which allows space for the 3rd row seat to disappear into the chassis. (2001 and newer models). The Mitsubishi Montero is a good choice for those who like “bells and whistles”, particularly the limited edition. Monteros are commonly found with leather seats, electric windows, electric mirrors, digital temperature displays, and luxury sound systems. Outside you will normally get running boards, sturdy luggage racks and alloy rims. If you commonly carry 5 adults and luggage or gear, then you will find the Montero and Montero Sport to be roomy and capable.
The Montero comes with a v6 3000 cc or 3500cc engine. This has plenty of power for most off-road situations and also for getting up and down the mountains in Costa Rica. Mitsubishi is a big player in the off-road rallies and their SUVs have better off-road capabilities than many other manufacturers. The Montero’s all feature full 4 x 4, with both high and low options for getting in and out of tricky situations you can encounter in rural areas. The Montero Sport normally comes with a 3000cc v6 engine.
Parts and Repairs – Montero and Montero Sport Version
The Mitsubishi Montero has been a popular vehicle in Costa Rica for a long time and mechanics know how to work on any model year. Mitsubishi parts are readily available throughout the country, they are expensive, but very good quality. Hard to find parts can be obtained at the dealer.
Pros: The v6 in the Mitsubishi Montero is powerful enough to handle the automatic transmission, so it is a very good choice if you prefer the automatic. The luxury trim and features are also a good benefit in the Montero. The 7 passenger capacity is handy to have when you get company visiting. The roomy cargo area is great for trips to the beach, hardware store and PriceSmart. The Mitsubishi off-road tradition means that the chassis and suspension are superior to many makes as far as clearance, ride and capability. You will be able to get in and out of any popular tourist attraction in Costa Rica, and almost any situation you may encounter off road.
Cons: The v6 is not as economical as a 4 cylinder, you may consider the diesel version instead. The 3rd row seating is great for short trips, not so great on long ones. Parts are more expensive than Korean or most other Japanese brands, albeit good quality.
Mitsubishi Montero Sport 2003 vs. Earlier Montero
One interesting topic we come across in discussing with our clients certain options at certain price ranges is versioning. For example, given a specific price range / budget, is it better to buy a Mitsubishi Montero, or a newer Montero Sport?
There is no clear winner, because each retains some features and advantages over the other. The 2003 Montero Sport is much prettier in my opinion, than the 1999 or 2000 Montero. However does it perform better and have better off-road capability than the Montero? If we are discussing a Toyota Land Cruiser vs. a Toyota 4 runner? The answer is … not necessarily. This comparison will vary according to the specific year model and version. What we can say is that Mitsubishi tends to implement improvements and features in the luxury Montero first. For example, 1999 Montero has better offroad capability and suspension than a 1999 Montero Sport. But a 2003 Montero Sport probably has better capabilities than the 1999 Montero, and maybe priced the same!
So in this case you would gain a few years, plus get a more modern style SUV, and not necessarily lose any features or performance. Although the point may be moot if you need the 7 passenger capacity or additional cargo room and sturdier luggage racks that the Monteros have.