Supposed to compliment the larger and more familiar world famous Montero (Pajero), the Montero Sport has been largely forgotten and I’m not sure why. It had classic body on frame off road rugged looks, an interior that was utilitarian but functional, and some decent off road chops.
I had to dig to find its debut year here in the US, but it looks to be 1997, though production started in Japan a year before. It was sold in multiple markets around the world: it was Pajeo Sport in Europe; Montero Sport here in the Americas and the Philippines; Nativa in Latin America, the Carribean and Middle East; Shogun Sport in the UK and Strada G Wagon in Thailand.
Here in the US, the Montero Sport entered a crowded marketplace that was packed with established body on frame players of the time (many have unfortunately either ended production, or morphed into crossovers) that included the Pathfinder, 4Runner, Passport, Rodeo, Explorer, Grand Cherokee and GM’s Blazer/Jimmy/Bravada triplets. Engine choices here were either a base 134 horse 2.4L I4 paired to a 5 speed manual, or a 3.0L 173 horse V6 with a 4 speed auto. The top trim, Limited, came with 200 horses out of the same engine for some reason. I did some digging and found that the 4WD models could be had with the 5 speed manual, though I couldn’t find whether or not that was with the 4 or the V6.
Like other entries in the segment back in the day, the Montero Sport actually had offroad chops. The Montero Sport came with a 4WD system with a 2 speed shift on the fly transfer case. It had low range and could be equipped with a locking rear diff as well.With 6 trim levels starting at a base of $18,750 up to a loaded 4WD Limited trim’s $33,070, there was something for everyone.
The Montero Sport was sold here from ‘97-’04 where it was replaced by the more modern Endeavor, itself forgettable. Total sales for those 7 years was just under 339k. Not too bad but strangely I don’t see many on the road anymore. I’ve never really heard anything bad about them either. And I’m sure 4WD models would still perform decently off road for cheap.
The rest of the world, namely Japan, got 2 more generations of the Pajero Sport, something that we should’ve gotten instead of 2 Outlander variants.