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Wednesday 7th April 2004


MITSUBISHI ENDEAVOR

Canadian Correspondent Nauman Farooq looks at Mitsubishi's answer to the Cherokee

Think Mitsubishi and what do you think of? If you are an enthusiast or a rallying fan, you very probably think about the Lancer Evo.

However, if you want a four-wheel drive Mitsubishi and the Evo VIII is too small and the Shogan (Montero as it's called in North America) is too big, then look no further than the Endeavor.

Think of it as offspring. It combines the heart of the Shogun with some of the nimbleness of the Evo VIII. Yes really, despite its girth, this is a pretty handy machine if you want to cover ground at an indecent pace.

How does it do that? Well, unlike many other big SUV's, this has four wheel independent suspension which helps tremendously in quick lane changes and tight corners.

Mitsubishi also has lots of experience in making four-wheel drive vehicles and it shows. Unlike the mad Evo VIII that has an active differential, the Endeavor has a good old fashion 50/50 drive distribution. This means you always know how much or how little grip you have on board. The downside are the fuel bills (although they are actually better than most SUVs) and the tranny does make a whining noise at speed, but that is really taking a poke at it.

Snug

The area where it excels is in the ride comfort department. This is very comfortable on long trips, and thanks to its high driving position and lots of glass, visibility isn't bad either. The only hard to see area is the glass on the tailgate. It is small compared to the size of the tailgate and you really have to watch carefully while reversing - small kids on bicycles can be hard to spot. On the road it doesn't pose any problem, but in residential areas, be careful. It would be great if Mitsubishi adds reversing sensors to this vehicle.

It would also have been nice to get xenon headlights on the range topping Limited model, and the option to add a navigation system would also attract a few buyers.

Beautiful styling would also help sales. You make up your own mind, but I am not quite convinced. After a week, it started to grow on me. Most people said that apart from the front, it reminds them of the Jeep Grand Cherokee, and I agree. It might not be the prettiest thing on the road, but it sure isn't the ugliest.

However, that is it with the niggles, on every other account, this Endeavor scores big.

Size Matters

Big it certainly is, it's simply huge. Soccer moms would love it; so would the kids, fold the huge rear seats down, and kids can almost play soccer inside the vehicle. It won't matter what size you are; you'll find the Endeavor comfortable, front and back. In fact, in the back, you almost feel Presidential - this can serve well as a chauffeur driven vehicle.

It has most of all the gadgets you'd want - power drivers seat, heated both front seats, power windows, mirrors and locks. Air conditioning is standard, and in the top of the line Limited model that I had as a press vehicle from Mitsubishi Canada, it came equipped with leather seats and quite possibly the best Infinity sound system I have ever experienced. Carry your favourite CDs when you're travelling in this Endeavor, and since there is no shortage of cubbyhole space, you can carry all of them too.

The only place the interior slightly lets you down is in the quality of the materials Mitsubishi used. They're a bit better than the Eclipse I tried a few months back, but not near the quality of other Japanese vehicles.

Ok, I know what youre asking, what about the performance, afterall, performance cures all woes, I mean, even the Subaru Impreza WRX STi looked beautiful after driving it, so how does the Endeavor fair?

Well, I already told you it handles well, which makes it a rare fun to drive SUV, and the powerplant ain't bad either.

It might just be a 3.8 liter, V6 under the big hood, and it might only have 215 hp for you to play with, but with 250 lb/ft of torque, getting a move on things is never hard. The four-speed automatic has seamless shifts, and the Sportronic features, which allows you to make manual gear selection is quite good to use.

The powertrain is smooth, adding to your relaxing long drive, and with all that torque, passing someone is not a big chore.

No matter what chores you might have, you can get them done with the Endeavor, even off-roading. I did take it on some loose tarmac and it handles it very well.

So, have no doubt, this is a fine vehicle, and at a price ranging from CDN.$34,000 to CDN.$43,000, it's a good value.