There are a lot of people who have fond memories of the last Mitsubishi Montero. In fact, there are a lot of people still driving their Montero everyday, even though the last new one came to the United States in 2006. But this traditional rugged SUV might be making a comeback in North America in a new much more advanced guise.
The next generation likely to come to the U.S. is not just going to be the first redesign in more than 14 years; it will also be sold as a plug-in hybrid. Mitsubishi CEO Osamu Masuko told AutoNews that the car should be out before the end of the decade, but refused to offer any more details than that.
The Montero is known as the Pajero in most of the rest of the world, and a slight redesign of the old generation is still on sale in many countries.
The reason for the long delay likely has a lot to do with the difficult restructuring period the company has been through, as it tries to bounce back from years of losses. During Masuko’s tenure the company focused on producing more small and efficient cars like the i-MiEV. This strategy has been a success elsewhere but left the company doing extremely poorly in the United States.
A new Montero could do a lot to turn that around, especially if the car ends up being anything like the GC-PHEV that debuted at the Tokyo Motor Show earlier this year. The concept features a hybrid drivetrain, as well as aggressive angular styling, which is a fresh take on the somewhat outdated looks of the last generation of Montero.
For all of Mitsubishi’s focus on the tech in the new midsized SUV, the company does want to retain its commitment to the off-road performance that has long been a hallmark of the Montero. To accomplish this, the car should feature the new S-AWC – or Super All Wheel Control system – that combines all-wheel drive with, stability and traction control.
Masuko believes that the new Montero, along with a brand new Mirage and Lancer, can help re-establish Mitsubishi’s presence in the United States. While he said that he did not think that it would be likely that the company could regain its mid 2000s sales peak, he said that the company had no plans to close its U.S. facilities and expected to be back at 150,000 annual sales by the end of the decade.
I hope that’s the case, because, while the Mitsubishi lineup has been pretty grim for some time, I would hate to see another Japanese automaker go the way of Suzuki and withdraw entirely from the U.S. Market.