Welcome to Sunday Matinee, where we highlight classic car reviews or other longer videos I find on YouTube. Kick back and enjoy this blast from the past.
The Mitsubishi Montero, also known as the Mitsubishi Shogun in the United Kingdom, is so absolutely adored and beloved over here in the US that Mitsubishi stopped selling them here in 2006. Granted, that might be chalked up to all the evidence that Mitsubishi has really just given up completely in general, but it also because of a weird perception issue.
Here's my theory, that I spent all of about thirty seconds formulating on the back of a used paper towel, so bear with me. I don't think the Montero was really terrible at all, I just think the company marketing it had no idea what it was doing.
By the end of its life here, it wasn't positioned as the go-anywhere off-roader that could do things better than a Land Rover could, as it was in the UK and the rest of the world, but as something affected by malaise. It didn't know what it was, or where its image was heading.
People like to buy cars that know what they are, for some reason. They like an offroad-y offroader, or a luxurious "Sports Activity Vehicle." In the case of vehicles that combine the two, like the Range Rover, they do both incredibly well, better than anyone else. Plus, it's got the Range Rover brand behind it, and people like the Range Rover brand.
But if you're going to market your car to be somewhere in the middle, everything just sort of becomes sort of "meh." That was the Montero's marketing problem, by the end of its American lifecycle. It wasn't supposed to be the best offroader, and it wasn't supposed to be the most luxurious. It was firmly in the middle.
And don't get me wrong, lots of things are great sitting right in the middle. Neutrality can be a wonderful thing. Just look at Switzerland. Switzerland's neutral, and everything is all very nice over there.
But nobody is ever rooting for Switzerland in the World Cup.
If you're a small brand like Mitsubishi, and you want to beat the biggest, baddest guys in the room, you've got to be bigger and badder than everyone else. You can't afford to place your car in the middle.
It's got to be better. And it was.
But nobody ever told the car-buying public that. So very few bought one.