Big Test: Mitsubishi Montero Sport vs. Nissan Terra

Midsize mash-up
by Jason Tulio | Mar 16, 2019
PHOTO: Jason Tulio

The midsize SUV class is on the verge of yet another heated war, thanks to some new models and variants entering the scene. In this battle, we look at two of the segment’s top contenders in their family-friendly, top-2WD-spec formats.

Mitsubishi Montero Sport GLS Premium 2WD AT

The current iteration of the Mitsubishi Montero Sport has succeeded in spite of the controversy surrounding its predecessor, which was still rampant even during the all-new model’s launch. This is further testament to the now-established strength and reputation of the nameplate. Today, it remains a benchmark for all other midsize SUVs to follow.

Compared with the previous-gen’s rounded look, the current Montero Sport’s design is all about sharp lines. Granted, the hood has a curve to it, but the rest of the car is almost polygon-like. It’s sleek, eye-catching, and pleasing to the eye. But yes, there are those things.

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Much has been said about the Montero Sport’s taillights—a lot of them negative. In our opinion, the vertical taillights can grow on you to the point where you no longer feel disdain whenever you see them. But they’re there and they stick out, for better or worse. It just depends on how often you need to look at the back of your SUV. If you really can’t stand them, many aftermarket shops sell plastic covers.

On the plus side, Mitsubishi put a lot of effort in designing the cabin, which is perhaps the best part about this SUV. The dash features shiny plastic surfaces that are smooth and solid to the touch. The steering wheel is wrapped in leather, and it looks and feels premium. Behind it is a bright and legible instrument cluster. You also get a raised center console and plush leather seats. While the middle and rear rows are reasonably spacious, the front can be a bit cramped thanks to said center console.

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Powering this SUV is a 2.4-liter MIVEC turbodiesel with 178hp and 430Nm on tap. Throttle response is instant, and you get to use that torque right from the get-go. The brake pedal is equally sensitive. Handling, meanwhile, harkens back to Mitsubishi’s motorsports heritage. This midsize SUV moves with an agility belying its size. Steering is easy and weighted perfectly for nimble maneuvering. The ride is comfy at cruising speed, with minimal discomfort when going over potholes.

In terms of features, the infotainment system comes with Bluetooth connectivity, while the on-board safety tech includes hill-start assist and a reversing camera with sensors.

Mitsubishi Montero Sport GLS Premium 2WD AT

Nissan Terra 2.5L VL 4X2 7AT

The Nissan Terra hasn’t had the benefit of several generations to build its name and reputation. But judging by the increasing number of units on the road, buyers have bought into the hype.

Where Mitsubishi made its SUV’s design stand out, Nissan elected to make its offering more muted but macho. The signature V-motion grille sits next to a beefy pair of LED headlamps. Muscular haunches and curves give the body an athletic vibe, while the rear fascia follows the same template of big lighting units and V-shaped panel.

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Inside, things are just as understated. The dash has a mix of dull and glossy plastic materials, and the steering wheel is not unlike the ones found on other Nissans. The plus sides here are the comfy brown leather seats and the cavernous space.

The Terra runs on the same 2.5-liter YD25 engine found on the top-spec Navara, which is capable of 187hp and 450Nm. There’s bit more oomph here than in the Montero Sport, which you can feel at the higher rev ranges. The steering is also heavier—great for stringing corners together, but somewhat cumbersome when turning at low speeds. Still, the Terra’s handling truly shines when you take on a series of twists and turns. There’s less body roll than expected as the SUV manages to stay planted throughout.

While the Montero Sport’s tech can be considered standard fare these days, the Terra features the Nissan Intelligent Mobility suite of safety tech. This includes multiple cameras around the vehicle accessible by flipping the rearview mirror. This is nifty for tight and parallel parking slots. And in newer versions, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come standard on the top variants. We would’ve liked better speakers than the existing ones, though.

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Nissan Terra 2.5L VL 4X2 7AT

Verdict

It’s not easy choosing between these two literal behemoths. On the one hand, the Montero Sport’s comfort and premium cabin are ideal for family road trips and other kinds of long drives. On the other, the Terra is the better choice if you want a sportier experience with your SUV, not to mention all the on-board tech. Both SUVs netted between 8-9km/L during our test. It’d be easy for us to say that the choice inevitably depends on your needs. 

But we have to choose a winner, so we’re going with the Terra for two things: its handling and the extensive suite of entertainment and safety features. The first is the result of good engineering, while the second can be attributed to the Terra’s later release date. There is a catch, though: The 4x2 VL is P50,000 more expensive than the GLS Premium. 

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PHOTO: Jason Tulio
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