Mitsubishi Montero Sport GT 4WD – Safety above all else

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Metro Manila is a city of migrants. When you meet someone, one of the obligatory questions during the first few days would be “San ang probinsya mo?” because many of those living here came from a province. This is why there are many SUVs on the roads here in the capital; they want something that’s more than ready to take the rough roads of provinces. Add to that our penchant for having members of our extended families in our home, and the seven-seat capacity is a requirement and not just a bonus.

This Montero Sport GT 4WD is one such beast: 2.4L diesel engine, seven seats, four-wheel drive, rugged chassis, and the durability that Mitsubishi is known for. The package seems good on paper, but with a P2,450,000 price tag due to taxes and tariffs, one would think thrice or more about shelling out that much for a seven-seater family vehicle. For some, it’s a certain yes to get a Montero as their sole vehicle for the family while others would have doubts because of the plethora of new options in the market. As for me, well read on to find out what I think about this Montero GT.

The updates in the Montero’s design is a mix of yes and raised eyebrows for me. For starters, I like the shortened taillights at the back. Up front, it looks much cleaner with its bolder grille in matte finish and more muscular sculpting on the front bumper. But the adoption of the rectangular fog light assembly makes me stroke my beard because I’m not sure if I like it. It goes well with the shape of the bumper, but the way it makes the overall look too aggressive makes me have second thoughts.

They’ve also put in a 360-camera outside, having cameras in front, at the back, and on the side mirrors. They’re not high-resolution cameras by any means but they do still help in maneuvering in tight spaces.

Inside is pretty much the same, save for a few key things. The toys at the center of the dash now feature a bigger touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. They also implemented rotary knobs for the Dual-Zone Climate Control in lieu of the old buttons. The gauge cluster now makes do without an analog gauge and in its place are three LCD screens that show the engine temp, fuel gauge, and the center screen for the digital gauge and other vehicle info.

Nothing has changed dimension-wise for the Montero. There’s enough space in front even for a big man like me. The second row has adequate elbow and legroom for passengers without compromising those behind them, while the third row is still not the best place for adults, especially if you’re taller than 5’7.

Coming from crossovers and smaller cars, I had a bit of learning curve with the Montero. The seating position is too high for my preference, even at its lowest setting. The steering wheel is also very firm that, at first, I thought it was heavy. As minutes turned into hours, I realized it’s one of the best I’ve held. It allows for precise control and surprisingly not fatiguing even after I’ve driven it in Metro Manila traffic.

It’s just a letdown that the infotainment touchscreen isn’t as great as the rest of the car. Sure, it has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but it seemed like this was one of the first units with those features. It’s slow and definitely not the sharpest I’ve seen.

After that, I started to notice that for the price I’d pay, the Montero isn’t as luxurious as I expected. Yes, there’s leather all over, but that can be had in cars that are cheaper than this. It’s powered tailgate that can be opened by making a kicking motion on the corner of the rear bumper doesn’t work all the time. I was trying to justify this price point in my head when a vehicle suddenly cut into my lane and the car engaged the brakes by itself. That’s when I thought, “Oh right, that’s where the money went.”

Safety is the utmost priority of the Montero GT. It didn’t try having the best interior, the biggest sunroof, or the best touchscreen for media entertainment, as long as all occupants are safe in most situations. Only the GT trim has seven airbags, Hill Descent Control, Forward Collision Mitigation, Blind Spot Warning with Lane Change Assist, Ultrasonic Misacceleration Mitigation, and Rear Cross Traffic Alert. Yes, they don’t make themselves known most of the time, but I’d rather have them and not use them, than need them and not have them.

That package comes on top of the mechanical prowess of the Montero GT: 2.4L turbo-diesel engine with 179hp and 430Nm of pull, eight-speed automatic with Sports Mode and the Super Select 4WD-II. Despite its size, it’s a modest drinker even in heavy traffic reaching 8.2km/l and goes up to 12km/l when the roads are less congested.

As I spent more time with the Montero GT, its drawbacks seemed minor compared to what I was getting. Even if you consider that there are now more affordable seven-seaters in the market with enough power to pull you through provincial roads, the Montero will still keep popping up as one of the top choices and for a simple reason. It sticks to what’s important—safety, space, and capability. It’s the kind of SUV that you’re confident wherever you go because, even on unpaved roads, it will surely get you out of sticky situations.

If you need the flair of modern interior, bigger sunroof, and more toys, there are other cars in the market that will suit your taste. But if you want to be confident to tackle any road this country has to offer while having an elevated safety suite for the city, the Montero GT is the key. It’s an expensive key no doubt, but Mitsubishi makes sure it’s worth it.

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