While Land Cruiser, Jeep and Land Rover are getting all the attention, Mitsubishi Monteros have been overlooked and under-appreciated. The 2002-2006 Montero is a very capable vehicle on and off road. And prices are getting cheap for this great dual-purpose SUV.
Here's an example:
2002 Mitsubishi Montero Limited $9000
3.5L V6, 5 speed automatic, full time AWD
35,000 miles St George, UT
The Montero Limited was completely redesigned for 2002. Mitsubishi followed the example of the Grand Cherokee and Range Rover, and designed an SUV with unit body. Front and rear suspensions are carried on sub-frames. They added independent coil springs front and rear, 5 speed automatic trans, two speed transfer case, limited slip rear diff with manual locking, and P265/70R16 tires on alloy wheels. The Montero has more than 9 inches of ground clearance, and can tow up to 5000 lbs. EPA rating for the 3.5L V6 is 14 city, 19 highway.
The Limited received lots of luxury touches: heated power driver's seat, leather seating, big sunroof, climate control, heated mirrors, fog lights premium sound system, 3rd row of seats that folds into the floor, and so on. These aren't important to its success as an ExPo vehicle, but they are appreciated in a daily driver.
The price in 2002 was $36,000, a bit of a bargain compared to the import SUVs of the era. Being able to buy a low mileage example 6 years later for less than $10,000 seems like a bargain.
The unit body and independent suspension are anathema to the rockhopping community, who look down their noses at vehicles that don't have a solid front axle. It's true that the 2002-06 Montero will never be a star on the Rubicon Trail.
I think the primary reason people shopping for an ExPo vehicle are overlooking the Montero is that the 2002-2006 model has swoopy styling. Mitsubishi was trying to appeal to a wider audience, and in doing so, made a vehicle that doesn't look like a utility truck.
But don't underestimate the Montero. The Montero is a great choice for weekend trips on unimproved roads. If you want more off-road capability, there are bumper, winch and suspension kits from ARB for this model. It will easily tow an off-road camping trailer.
The Montero is a comfortable daily driver, capable of dealing with rain and snow without drama. It's the epitome of a dual purpose vehicle.