Welcome to Depreciation Appreciation! Every month, your pals at autoTRADER.ca dig up an instance of how depreciation can make for an extraordinary used-car deal.

This time around, we’re looking at a unique option for the used vehicle shopper with capability, space, and extra-budget-friendly pricing on the brain.

Whether you’re an outdoor and camping enthusiast with a growing family, or someone after a family road-tripper that’s attainably priced and ready-for-action in any weather, the Mitsubishi Montero is worth some consideration.

The Montero is an old gal these days – but a large community of owners says this is a solid SUV that’s easy to keep ticking as the miles pile on.

The Sticky

From 2001 to 2006, this large SUV offered up relatively affordable access to such things as a ladder-frame chassis, selectable four-wheel drive modes, fold-and-tumble rear seating, and a removable third seating row. Said third row could be folded into the Montero’s floor – or removed entirely – so that the seating storage well might be used for additional cargo.

Translation? Montero has the space you need for your family, and their things. If not, add a roof-rack or hitch-mounted carrier to taste. But trust us, it’s huge.

Power came from a V6 engine of 3.5 or 3.8 litres of displacement, depending on the year. The larger engine is preferred by many owners, and came online starting from model year 2003. Look for 215 horsepower from the larger engine, and an automatic transmission with manual-mode shifting.

Beyond its size and capability, the Montero attempted to be all things to all shoppers. A spacious and comfortable family hauler, this one’s also nicely set up to tackle any and all off-road activities that might come its way. There’s even a full-size spare tire, so your adventure needn’t end if you suffer a flat, miles into the wilderness.

Feature content may include wood-grain accenting, a premium stereo, full power accessories, heated mirrors, heated seats, tire pressure monitoring, and a digital driver computer. A sunroof, DVD player, and automatic climate control were also on offer.

Don’t miss the built-in lounge/sleeper seating configuration, enabled when all seats folded flat to create a large, padded surface that covers much of the Montero’s floor.

Note that, given its reputation as a high-capability off-roader, car-like handling is not part of the package. Some buyers may need to adjust their driving style accordingly.

Approximate New Value

When new, this generation of Montero commanded an upfront asking price of about $42,000–$50,000, depending on the options and trim grade.

Approximate Used Value

You’ll find used Monteros today for a fraction of their original asking price – no surprise, given that the newest unit you’ll track down is now some 13 years old. The big value here comes, mainly, from what you get, for what you’ll pay.

Selection is somewhat limited, especially on lower-mileage units, so shop patiently. For the shopper unfazed by mileage (or performing some maintenance and upkeep on their own), models like this one are fairly standard – with an odometer reading in the low-to-mid 200,000s, and an asking price under $8,000, all day long.

Some units with similar mileage, including this one, can be had for $4,500 or less, though they may need some repairs or reconditioning.

Test Drive Tips

Some shoppers may find the age and mileage of a used Montero to be prohibitive, though many long-time owners say the vehicle is worth keeping on the road – especially for those handy with do-it-yourself repairs and upkeep. Properly maintained, a used Montero won’t likely cause you much stress.

By and large (and as it goes with any used vehicle), regular maintenance, inspections and servicing seem to be key success factors in keeping the Montero ticking. Numerous internet forum members suggest that service mileage is of little concern, with one citing Montero’s Japanese-built quality (and Mitsubishi’s expertise at building trucks and off-road vehicles) as key reasons to expect a long service life from this model.

“These vehicles are very reliable and last forever, especially when you take care of them,” reports one user, HunterD, from a popular Mitsubishi owner’s forum.

Still, shoppers should consider regular checks to be mandatory.

Start by having an on-the-hoist inspection completed by a professional technician, with close attention paid to signs of excessive rust, fluid leaks, or signs of parts or components that may have been damaged in an off-road setting.

Wheel bearings, all engine pulleys, all electronic accessories, and all fluid levels should be assessed professionally before your purchase.

If service records are unclear, budget for a full tune-up and fluid change – including spark plugs, new coolant, new transmission fluid, and new filters all around, for maximum peace of mind.

Some owners report that the Montero’s fluid change requirements are highly specific, and that use of an improper coolant or transmission fluid may result in problems. When having fluids changed, consider having the work done by a Mitsubishi dealership, for maximum peace of mind. Do not use any transmission fluid other than that specified in the owner’s manual.

Double-check the condition of the tires, noting any signs of improper alignment – which may present as uneven tread wear across the width of the tire(s). If you notice this, be sure to have the vehicle assessed professionally before you buy. Some owners have noted that excessive rust on parts of the Montero’s suspension can make alignment work difficult.

If equipped on the model you’re considering, have the 3.8-litre engine checked for signs of a not-uncommon valve cover gasket leak.

Also, have the braking system inspected to ensure it’s in tip-top shape, and functioning perfectly, for safety. The braking system check is especially important if you notice any sign of a soft brake pedal, or any unwanted noises during moderate to hard braking. Some owners have reported failure of an electronic component in the braking system, which could be prohibitively pricey to fix, and may cause accelerated brake wear and/or reduced braking performance. If in doubt, have it checked out.


If carefully inspecting a used vehicle, and properly caring for an older SUV are non-issues for you, a Mitsubishi Montero might be one of the best ways going to access high-capability off-road performance and loads of space for under $8,000.