Whereas most other sport utilities spring from a Beaver Cleaver legacy of hauling kids or towing the boat to Spooky Lake, Mitsubishi’s flagship Montero credenza is crammed with 17 years of Paris-to-Dakar Rally trophies. For the uninitiated, Paris to Dakar is a grueling off road rally run through thousands of miles of Africa’s most punishing terrain. Just finishing is cause to celebrate. A good measure of that rally magic filters into the production Montero. More like a high performance rally car than a workaday truck, the Montero features rigid unibody construction riding on 4-wheel long travel independent suspension. Variable ratio power assisted rack and pinion steering and vented antilock 4-wheel disc brakes gives the Montero impressive reflexes. The Montero is available in two series: well-equipped XLS and top-of-the-line Limited. The low-$30s XLS model features such standard items as a 4-speed automatic with adaptive shift control, part time 4wd, a 6-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo, 10 way adjustable driver’s seat, tilt steering, cruise control, security alarm, cargo tie downs, tool kit, dual front and side airbags, 16-in. alloy wheels, mud guards, skidplates, tow hooks, roof rail and power windows mirrors and door locks.
The mid-$30s limited adds-top-drawer hardware, such as the Sportonic 5 speed transmission, ActiveTrac 4-wheel drive and limited slip rear differential with torque sensing helical gears and a viscous coupling. Other Limited standards include a 7-speaker Mitsubishi/Infinity AM/FM/CD stereo, 10 way adjustable power driver’s seat, leather steering wheel and first-and second row seat trim, wood grain interior trim, LCD dash screen, foglamps, a power sliding sunroof, power antenna, and color-keyed grille, tail-lamp bezels and mirrors.