Mitsubishi’s Montero Sport makes a long-awaited return, but we’re not getting it

Rugged, old-fashioned body-on-frame SUVs are an endangered species in the United States, but there’s no shortage of them in markets like Australia. The newest family-hauling off-roader is the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport, a seven-passenger SUV whose roots go back to the Montero Sport that was deep-sixed over a decade ago.

The Pajero Sport rides on the same frame as the L200 pickup, but it wears a more muscular-looking design that’s characterized by a tall front end with chrome accents, sharp headlights, and a wide grille. The most striking part of the Sport are the tail lamps, which stretch from the tall belt line all the way down to the bumper. The look is directly inspired by the futuristic GR-HEV concept that was shown in Geneva at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show.

The rugged treatment is markedly toned down on the inside. In top-spec models, the Pajero’s utilitarian roots are masked by plush leather upholstery, steering wheel-mounted shift paddles, an electronic parking brake and a large touch screen for the infotainment system. Faux aluminum trim adds a finishing touch to the look, making the Pajero Sport stand out as one of the most premium off-roaders Mitsubishi has ever offered.

In Thailand, one of the Pajero Sport’s biggest markets, power is provided by a 2.4-liter turbodiesel engine that’s bolted to Mitsubishi’s first-ever eight-speed automatic gearbox. Further technical details are not known, and they’ll likely vary greatly from market to market. However, it’s safe to assume that a gasoline-burning engine and a manual transmission will be added to the lineup later in the production run.

The 2016 Mitsubishi Pajero Sport is scheduled to go on sale in over 90 countries in the next few months. However, at the time of writing it doesn’t look like the United States is one of them.