NY - Consumer
Reports® has rated the 2001 Mitsubishi Montero Limited "Not
Acceptable" after it tipped up severely on two wheels during
CU's emergency avoidance-maneuver tests.
was first found during short-course avoidance-maneuver testing
of the Montero Limited and six other mid-sized SUVs at Consumer
Reports' Auto Test Facility in East Haddam, CT on May 16. None
of the other six vehicles tipped up during the tests. The short-course
avoidance maneuver is one of CU's standard tests for SUVs.
same day, on the same course and with the same drivers, we tested
six other similarly-sized SUVs and none of them exhibited any
problems with tip-ups. We believe that a vehicle that tips up
severely in our tests is exhibiting dangerous behavior,"
said Dr. R. David Pittle, Senior Vice President and Technical
Director of Consumers Union (CU), the publisher of Consumer Reports.
Montero Limited that Consumer Reports tested on May 16 was a red
vehicle manufactured in May 2000. Of 21 completed runs made in
Consumer Reports' short-course avoidance-maneuver test on that
date by its three test engineers, the red Montero tipped up on
two wheels in 8 out of 9 runs at 36.7 mph or faster. In one run
at 37.7 mph, it tipped up so far that the safety outriggers contacted
the ground. Because of this behavior, CU's Auto Test Center purchased
a second sample, a silver Montero Limited, manufactured in March
2001. Along with some other vehicles in this test group, both
Monteros were tested on the same short course by vehicle-dynamics
consultant R. Wade Allen, who also assessed the previous avoidance-maneuver
test results. Both Monteros tipped up severely, and both, CU believes,
would likely have rolled over if not for the safety outriggers.
It is uncommon
for a vehicle to be rated "Not Acceptable" by Consumer
Reports. Of the 118 vehicles Consumer Reports has tested in its
short-course emergency avoidance maneuver during the past 13 years,
only the Suzuki Samurai in 1988; the Isuzu Trooper and its twin,
the Acura SLX in 1996, and now the Mitsubishi Montero Limited
have tipped up so severely as to be judged "Not Acceptable."
the emergency-handling test results, the article about the Montero
advises, "If you're shopping for an SUV, we advise you not
to buy the 2001 Montero Limited until this safety problem has
been corrected. In our opinion, there are safer choices."
Motor Sales of America was advised of Consumer Reports' findings
and invited to visit its track via a letter faxed and received
on May 31. Representatives of the automaker visited CU's Auto
Test Facility in Connecticut on June 5 to view videotape of the
2001 Montero Limited testing and inspect the tested vehicles and
test course. In response, Mitsubishi said that the Montero Limited
has undergone a full range of tests validating the company's confidence
in the vehicle, and that the company had received no customer
complaints about its stability. Mitsubishi also disputed CU's
findings and methodology. (See "Mitsubishi's Response"
on p. 25 of the article.)
mid-sized SUVs were being tested in preparation for reviews in
the September issue of Consumer Reports. The other vehicles tested
were the: 2001 Dodge Durango, 2002 Ford Explorer, 2002 GMC Envoy,
2001 Jeep Grand Cherokee, 2001 Nissan Pathfinder, and 2001 Toyota
Reports' "Not Acceptable" evaluation applies only to
the 2001 Mitsubishi Montero Limited, and not to previous Montero
models or to the Montero Sport, which are different vehicles.
CU did not test the XLS, another trim line of the 2001 Montero.
avoidance maneuvers are designed to simulate real-world situations
in which a driver needs to suddenly steer around an obstacle in
the road. CU auto-test engineers run two types of avoidance maneuvers:
"long" and "short" course tests. In both,
a vehicle is driven at progressively faster speeds so that test
engineers can assess its handling characteristics under emergency-avoidance
conditions. The tests are not designed to elicit a rollover, but
CU considers vehicles that tip up severely in its tests to be
exhibiting dangerous behavior. Only the Montero Limited tipped
up in this group of seven SUVs.
believes that the severe tip-ups in its tests demonstrate unsafe
performance, it considers the vehicle "Not Acceptable."
urges owners of 2001 Montero Limiteds to always wear a seatbelt,
drive with caution, and not carry cargo on top of the vehicle.
Carrying cargo, and even carrying passengers, raises a vehicle's
center of gravity, which can increase the risk of rollover.
believes that Mitsubishi should issue a recall and improve the
vehicle's stability. This would follow the example set in 1997
by Daimler-Benz (now DaimlerChrysler, which owns a 37.3 percent
stake of Mitsubishi Motors Corporation), when that company recalled
and corrected the Mercedes-Benz A-Class after it rolled over in
similar tests conducted by a Swedish automotive magazine.
Reports has found no reports of rollover crashes involving the
2001 Montero, but believes that its test results point to an unnecessary
such as SUVs have a higher center of gravity, which makes them
more top-heavy and more susceptible to rolling over than lower
vehicles such as sedans. This is why the government requires all
SUVs with a wheelbase of 110 inches or less-including the 2001
Montero-to display rollover risk warning labels.
the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) implemented
its Rollover Resistance Rating, a five-star system based on static
measurements of a vehicle's dimensions. It is intended to provide
an estimate of rollover risk in a single-vehicle accident.
Union, which has twice petitioned NHTSA to develop a dynamic rollover
test since 1988, believes the agency's rating system is inadequate
because it isn't based on tests of a moving vehicle and can't
account for what could be critical differences in emergency handling
caused by suspension design, tires, steering response, or the
presence of a stability-control system. In October 2000, Congress
directed NHTSA to develop and implement a dynamic rollover test
by November 2002. Currently in the planning stages, this would
be based on actual on-road handling tests. Consumers Union supports