Off-road contenders: Montero Sport vs Fortuner

For comfort and power in the mountains
by Botchi Santos | Jun 30, 2010
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Hi, Botchi!

Greetings! I've read comments on sport-utility vehicles from Top Gear and got your email address for vehicle inquiry. I've brought up my vehicle concerns in some Philippine car forums but I didn't get any reply. I hope this time I might have some luck.

Please help me find the SUV best-suited for driving in the mountains. I currently own a 2007 Mitsubishi Adventure SS MT. It seems to lack in engine power especially when loaded. We're planning to replace it with a 4x4 SUV with more power and which is more suitable to a mountainous area like Nueva Vizcaya.

We've already compared the Toyota Fortuner 3.0 and the Mitsubishi Montero Sport SE but we haven't decided because there are so many different features to consider. The Montero Sport has a lot of features to enjoy compared with the Fortuner. One important feature of the Fortuner, however, is the second row air vent which is not in the current Montero Sport. We're hoping it will be in the 2011 Monty model because this is very important for my two kids who travel with us everyday.

More power and God bless.

Thanks,
jmranz

Hi, jmranz!

You're not alone in being torn between the Montero Sport and the Toyota Fortuner. Both are excellent SUV's sporting the latest CRDi diesel engine technology and go-anywhere ground clearance.

I agree that having dual aircon is most important in terms of comfort, especially if kids will be riding in the backseat under the heat of the mid-day sun. Although the Montero Sport doesn't have an air vent specifically for the second-row seats (unlike the Fortuner that has overhead vents between the left and right b-pillars), there is an aircon vent on the third row with its own set of controls which you can just keep blowing to the max to help cool the interior of the Montero Sport.

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Speaking of interiors, both SUVs appeal to different age spectrums. The Montero Sport's industrial-grey cabin is a favorite of teens and yuppies and all those young at heart. It's not as cleanly finished and well-executed as the Fortuner's rather bland beige interior which appeals to the more mature market, but it does look more exciting. Plus the Toyota's beige interior gets dirty very easily. In its favor though, Toyota uses better, less brittle, more textured plastics for its interiors which gives it a feeling of added class--a more upmarket feel. The leather seats also used in the top-model V-variant Fortuner are softer than that of the Montero Sport's. And for an SUV, the Fortuner actually has a better, more favorable driving position than the Montero Sport.

The ride and handling is an interesting study, however. Toyota is really bouncy and passengers not used to this can get nauseous. Handling, on the other hand, is excellent. The Fortuner's high-speed stability gives one the confidence to go faster and basically force the road to submit before its big brawny wheels and tires which, surprisingly, never lose grip on the road despite their very firm feel.

The Montero Sport rides much more smoothly, but it is noticeably harsher than the Fortuner. If the road is super smooth, the Montero will be much more comfortable, but if you're driving over a paved road with minute surface imperfections, your body will slowly get tired and you'll feel drained after driving the whole day.

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Both have powerful engines, but the Montero's slightly bigger engine (3.2 VS the Fortuner's 3.0) offers noticeably better low- to mid-range power and flexibility even if both have peak power and torque figures within spitting distance of each other (compare the Mitsubishi Montero Sport and the Toyota Fortuner here). But the real deal-maker in the powertrain argument is Mitsubishi's excellent and highly-adaptive automatic transmission which reacts faster and adjusts more quickly to your driving style, making the Montero Sport feel more aggressive, powerful and responsive. Toyota's automatic transmission is a bit of a dullard unless you manually shift the gears.

Overall, the Montero Sport has the edge over the Fortuner. Tell us what you think and keep in touch. Good luck on your choice and God bless.

Botchi Santos
Consumer editor

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