I have a 1995 Montero SR, it now has 99K miles on it. I have had no major problems with it. I replaced the spark plugs and timing belt and water pump at 90K for the first time. The plugs and belt looked almost new. When doing the sprark plugs only the intake needs to be removed. In December of 2003 the family and I went on a 1600 mile trip. It was all in Montana and the roads, must of the time required 4 wheel drive. I averaged 17 mile/gallon on that trip. This SR is in great shape, in 1995 this SR ran about 30K on the window stiker. 3 years ago I paid $7900 for it. So I think over all it has been a good set of wheels
I have heard nothing, but good things about the 3.5 litre motor. Just curious, about how many mpg does this truck get on average. With $2.00/gallon on the horizon here, I am not sure if it is a wise buy for me.
I have a 97 Montero LS... it's been okay... I agree, the look of the truck is what really got me interested, plus the third seat and a V-6...with three kids it looked like a good alternative to another mini-van (one's enough). I've had all the same problems... currently it's at the shop and they are replacing the gas tank plug? It's a bolt in the base of the tank and the seal went bad causing a slow gas leak. Only 67 bucks to fix, but it made me nervous. I've got 104,000 miles and need new plugs...I'm going to print the comments so my mechanic knows to only remove the air in take. I've replace the door hinge too... but only $125.00. I can also relate to the steering... new tires didn't seem to make much of a difference, but I've also noticed the road surface has an impact on the steering. I hope it does run for a while longer I also agree that they don't hold their value, but even with all that... I still really like the truck.
I have owned a 1997 LS for 4 years. I bought with 60K miles. Now it has 134,000K miles. I have replaced the A/C / heat fan, alternator, shocks, brakes and a battery. Other than that, it has been incredibly reliable. I had the timing belt and spark plugs replaced at 65K. That is a costly job, but really only need to worry about it every 80,000 K according to my dealer. I have taken on many long, cross-country trips and never been stranded. For the most part, all general maintenance. The dash light indicating the four-wheel drive has burned out and the electronic door locks constantly burns fuses. I started using high-mileage oil and valve clicking on cold starts has ceased.
I have had my 97 Montero SR for about 2.5 years and over 60k miles. We bought it in FL, with 35k miles, and used it for everything from running through bogs, swamps and creeks to highway traveling with our three dogs (80lb Lab,60lb Pitbull,30lb collie). We have had no problems, except flat tires. Recently we moved from FL to WA (20 miles south of Canada), needless to say a Very Long trip and still absolutely no problems. The Montero Sport IS NOT in any way comparable to the full size Montero (LS, SR). It is a much cheaper and less capable vehicle. I would, and have, recommend the full size Montero for any use. They don't hold their value very well, but I have used this to my advantage, because you can get a world class vehicle for a very reasonable price. I will keep mine until it drops and then try to find another one.
I have had a very good history with Montero'. I had a '93 that had 160k and the only thing that needed to be fixed was the a/c compressor, which seems to be common. Other than that both of the Montero' I owed were good cars and I would recommend them to anyone. I lived in Europe and Africa and in both places the Montero was a common site, for good reason, they are good cars. I am buying another one right now.
I strongly recommend the full size Montero, especially the 1997 model with the newer SOHC (Single Overhead Cam, as opposed to DOHC, or Dual... you get the picture) motor. I currently own a moss green 1997 Montero SR which I purchased used with 65k miles in 2000. Previously I had a 1991 Montero which amassed 210k miles (bought used with 97k miles after the second motor in my Isuzu Trooper went), including two trips to Cabo San Lucas and various offroad trips almost every weekend throughout California, Nevad, Arizona and Mexico. After finishing school and landing a career job with clients, I had to get a more "professional" looking vehicle, but I had to get another Montero - I compromised (not really) with the 97 Motero SR (the upscale model).
Other than routine maintenance (battery, timing belt, spark plugs and oil changes), the truck has performed flawlessly - and has pulled its share of "lesser equiped" (mostly domestic) vehicles out off road. With a stock rear locking differential, tri-mode four wheel drive (called Active Track - essentially a 4x2, a viscous coupling 4x4 for wet or snowy roads, and also the ability to lock the transfer case in high and low range for real 4x4 adventures) and very little modification to fit 33" tires, the Montero is truly a capable vehicle.
Even with all this offroad ability, I can still fit seven people (with the rear-most seats more suited for kids or really short trips) and ride around in leather and wood trimmed comfort while getting somewhat decent mileage (15-19 MPG on 33" tires). Also, it doesn't feel like a hulking, lane hogging beast of an SUV (though it does tend to drive like a truck - which is why I love it). Unlike the domestic psudo-hard core, gas guzzling SUV's on the market, Mitsubishi caters to the world market (they do not describe the sun roof as a "Safari roof" for nothing). Thus, Montero is built to handle any road anywhere - even where there is no "road" at all.
Unfortunately (or fortunately, if you're a used car shopper like me), these trucks are certainly less expensive to pick up used than seemingly similar vehicles of the same year. From the above comments, it does appear that there are a few bad apples. However, if you have somewhat decent mechanical skills and can pick up a lightly used "mall cruiser" example - for a very low entry fee you can be driving one of the most capable, underrated earth-exploration, go (almost) anywhere vehicles ever made.
Finally, you may have seen Mitsubishi TVs and electronics - they are the same company. Unlike other major auto manufacturers, Mitsubishi is an almost entirely "in house" operation with no major parts outsourced. Every nut, bolt and screw is perfectly torqued and the design of the mechanicals is logical and accessable. Having crawled under a majority of the SUV's on the market, only a Toyota compares to how well the Montero is designed. Sure it may be quirky and not a mainstream vehicle on American roads, but I prefer uniqueness to being a pretender.