Midsize SUV; Built in Japan
  • 4-door wagon
  • longitudinal front-engine/rear- or 4-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $1,400 – $6,000*

1998 Mitsubishi Montero Sport LS

1998 Mitsubishi Montero Sport ES

1998 Mitsubishi Montero Sport LS

1997 Mitsubishi Montero Sport interior

1997 Mitsubishi Montero Sport LS

  • Build quality
  • Instruments/controls
  • Entry/exit
  • Fuel economy
  • Noise
  • Ride

All told, the Montero Sport is too slow, noisy, and stiff-riding to truly satisfy the driver who spends more time on suburban roads than rural trails.


Mitsubishi entered the midsize sport-utility market during the 1997 model year, adding the new Montero Sport as a smaller-size companion to the long-lived regular Montero. Built on the same chassis as that regular Montero, the Sport had a shorter, lighter, and much lower body. Models included an entry-level ES with 2-wheel drive, an LS with either 2- or 4-wheel drive, and an XLS offered only with 4-wheel drive. All Sports carried Mitsubishi’s veteran 3.0-liter V6 engine, with the exception of the ES, which used a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder. The ES and 4WD LS had a standard 5-speed manual transmission, while other models got a 4-speed automatic.

Yearly Updates

1998 Montero Sport
A 2-wheel-drive model joined for 1998, in top XLS trim. Formerly optional, antilock brakes became standard on the LS 4×4 as well as XLS models. The 4-wheel-drive XLS added heated seats and door mirrors, plus a locking rear differential that would be useful in tough off-road situations.
1999 Montero Sport
A new luxury Limited model joined the Montero Sport lineup, equipped with the bigger Montero’s 3.5-liter V6 engine. Available with either 2- or 4-wheel drive, the Limited model featured a unique chrome grille with fog lamps, leather seats, power moonroof, and other amenities.
2000 Montero Sport
A mild facelift included a fresh front-end look and black tailgate trim. The LImited got a new monochrome exterior. Interiors were revised with 2-tone color schemes and larger front cupholders in a revised console. Rear coil springs replaced leaf springs, and all but the price-leader ES got larger front brakes and 16-inch wheels. The ES dropped its 4-cylinder engine in favor of the 3.0-liter V6, and lost its manual transmission. The automatic gained electronic shift control that adapts to driving style. An antitheft engine immobilizer was integrated with the ignition key. A limited-slip differential was included on Limited and available for XLS, replacing the previous lock-rear-differential option.
2001 Montero Sport
A new 3.5XS sport-trimmed model joined the lineup in 2001. All models added rear child-seat anchors, driver’s-seatbelt pretensioner, front-seatbelt load-force limiters, and structural strengthening. All models also qualified as Low Emissions Vehicles in all 50 states this year.
2002 Montero Sport
A more-sophisticated 4WD system, called All4-wheel drive, replaced a 4WD system that had to be disengaged on dry pavement for 2002. Among other additions this year: a color-keyed grille for the Limited, tube-type side steps standard on LS and XLS and optional on ES, and platinum-finish gauges on all but the ES.
2003 Montero Sport
A .08-inch higher roof is the only significant change to the Montero Sport for ’03.
2004 Montero Sport
A 3.5-liter V6 is now standard on both the LS and XLS, instead of just the XLS, this year.


longitudinal front-engine/rear- or 4-wheel drive

In 1997-98, all Montero Sports had a 3.0-liter V6 engine that produced 173 horsepower, with the exception of the value-priced ES, which used a 132-horsepower 4-cylinder. The Limited model, added for 1999, borrowed its 3.5-liter V6 from the bigger regular Montero. It developed 200 horsepower. A 5-speed manual transmission was standard on the ES and 4-wheel-drive LS; all other Sports had a 4-speed automatic transmission as standard equipment. The 3.0-liter V6 is gone in 2004, replaced by the XLS’ 3.5-liter V6 as standard on all Montero Sports.

ohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.4/143
Engine HP 132
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 148
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual


ohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.0/181
Engine HP 165-173
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 186-188
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
ohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.5/213
Engine HP 197-200
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 223-228
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic



Road Test

A 4-cylinder engine isn’t sufficient for a vehicle of this size and weight. With the 3.0-liter V6, acceleration from a standstill is only a little less sluggish, even with a light load aboard. Modest upgrades slow progress considerably, which can present a problem even when merging onto certain expressways. The 3.5-liter V6 in the ’99 Limited yields more satisfying performance. We managed about 17 mpg in city/highway driving with one Sport, but another example–driven somewhat harder–couldn’t beat 15 mpg.

Use of the big Montero’s chassis gives the Sport a stiff and lively ride on the highway. Overly light power steering is on the vague side. Although a Sport is far more stable than the bigger Montero in cornering, thanks to its lower stance, body lean is definitely noticeable in tight turns.

Noise levels reach beyond the SUV norm. Large door mirrors generate plenty of turbulence on the highway, and the engine fan whines loudly at higher speeds. Tire noise is prominent, too.

Ample ground clearance can be helpful for off-road operation, but the Sport’s tall step-in makes getting in and out a chore, especially into the back seat. Four adults can ride without feeling claustrophobic, even when accompanied by a sizable load of luggage. Still, a low roofline limits head room for 6-footers, and rear leg space is no more than adequate. On some models, the spare tire mounts under the load deck so it doesn’t cut into cargo space. Although the driver gets a commanding view, thick rear roof pillars hinder parking and lane changes. Instruments are large and legible. Most minor controls are within easy reach.


Model Tested: 2001 Mitsubishi Montero Sport LS 4WD

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.


Acceleration - 3
Fuel Economy - 4
Ride Quality - 4
Steering/Handling - 3
Quietness - 3


Controls/Materials - 5
Room/Comfort Front - 5
Room/Comfort Rear - 4
Cargo Room - 8


Value - 2

Total: 41


4-door wagon
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
107.3 178.3 66.7 65.6
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
79.3 19.5 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
38.9 37.3 42.8 33.5
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 1999 Montero Sport 4-door wagon


(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 4
Front Passenger Injury - 3

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A


(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision 140
Injury 133
Theft 616

Trouble Spots

Engine knock
Description: Models sold in California may have engine knock indicating possible welding flash entering the cylinders. (1997-98)
Engine noise
Description: Valve tap for a couple minutes after startup is considered normal. (1997-98)
Audio system
Description: Noise from the radio when adjusting the power seat requires revised seat wiring harness. (2001)
Vehicle shake
Description: The vehicle may shudder when making low-speed turns and the condition may be corrected by adding a limited-slip differential additive. (1997)

Recall History

1999 w/4WD and automatic
Description: Automatic-transmission fluid could be vented onto hot exhaust system.
1999-01 w/3.5-liter engine
Description: Brake-vacuum hoses may fail causing a loss of power assist to the brakes and increase stopping distances.
Description: The owner’s manual doesn’t adequately explain the child-restraint system. Dealers will distribute further operation instructions.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.


Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.

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