WHEN YOU first see a Mitsubishi Endeavor, you think... ugh... how plain- and frumpy- looking. It looks so boring, so uninteresting, so banal. Inside, things don't seem to look better, either. Well, similar to what a beautiful bimbo once said on TV, don't judge the Endeavor because it's not a book.
You see, the Endeavor is the sensible, reliable, simple and - one might say - shy and retiring type among a family of SUVs. It's like the shy girl with big, thick-rimmed glasses, a ponytail, wearing an oversized environmental-themed shirt, dirty-white Chuck Taylors and faded acid-washed jeans better suited to That ‘70s Show.
Built atop the Galant platform that is made in America, the Endeavor couldn't have been more understated, more normal. In fact, it proudly says it's made in Illinois on a sticker attached to the front quarter window panel.
You think I'm going to say the Endeavor is a painless, easy but forgettable - and ultimately uninspiring - drive. It's definitely a painless ride. The MacPherson-strut front and multilink rear suspension fitted to the Galant 240M has wowed us in the past, thanks to the smooth ride and the way the suspension handles the chassis in quick left-right-left transitions on poorly surfaced, off-cambered roads. The Endeavor displays similar deftness of movement yet cancels out practically all harshness. Curiosity piqued, I needed to conduct a closer inspection.
Out on the open road, the Endeavor rides tall enough for you to look ahead of other cars. The speed-sensing, quick-steering rack is a joy to twirl at any speed, and the comfort-oriented suspension means you don't need to pay respects to the potholes, expansion joints, bumps and ruts on the highway. And the entire chassis is super-stiff: You only hear the tires thumping. It's also got a lot in the way of safety. ABS-EBD brakes, traction control and multiple airbags (including curtain bags) round out the safety features. Mitsubishi also fitted a tire pressure monitoring system that alerts you if your tires are dangerously under-inflated.
The definitive moment: I ask somebody to drive the Endeavor as we pick up the new Mitsubishi Lancer. I give the Lancer some stick and the Endeavor is glued to the Lancer's tail. Dynamically, the new Lancer is superior in all aspects, save for engine power. The bigger, taller and heavier Endeavor keeps up with reasonable effort. It just amazes me. The 3.05-turn lock-to-lock is very quick by SUV standards, and heightens the aggressive sensation of turn-in sharpness. This SUV transfers its weight progressively through all four contact patches. The Endeavor feels alive.
Suddenly, this looks like an exciting proposition, akin to seeing the same frumpy-looking girl slip into a nice swimsuit on the beach, with a pair of artista shades to match - definitely oozing with sex appeal because there's something hidden beneath all that normality.
So did I enjoy the Endeavor? I miss it a lot, actually. It needs time, but with use, it grows on you.