2008 Mitsubishi Endeavor
2008 Mitsubishi Endeavor
2008 Mitsubishi Endeavor. Click image to enlarge

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2008 Mitsubishi Endeavor

The more some Mitsy’s change, the more a certain three-diamond SUV remains frozen in time. Such is the case with the Mitsubishi Endeavor, and perhaps, a cautionary tale for the current snafu amongst the Big Three; not every vehicle that an automaker parachutes into a product segment is going to be a winner. The Endeavor, much like the current Galant, has had to make do with minor facelifts over the last five years, while such Mitsy notables as the Lancer and Outlander revisions have stolen the spotlight. In fact, the current propaganda states that the Endeavor will be ‘facelifted’ for 2009. At Inside Story, we’re far more concerned with useful innovation, instead of re-arced headlamp brows. This week, Inside Story punts the rubber on the Limited AWD top-juice edition, with an MSRP of $44,643.94 as equipped. (Prices shown do not reflect freight, taxes, or regional incentives.)

The Cockpit/Centre Stack

I just happened to be watching Star Wars the other late, late night. You know, the one from 1977? Before George Lucas lost his mind? I’m pretty sure I saw this cockpit doing a cameo as a control console on the Death Star. Consider the four-speed automatic shifter. (That’s right; just four speeds.) Apparently, the Japanese fascination with baseball has morphed itself into a combination bat/ball combo, complete with realistic stitching. When you stop laughing, you can clunk the shifter into a manu-gate, if desired. The four-spoke wheel uses a traditional lever tilt, with no telescope.

2008 Mitsubishi Endeavor
2008 Mitsubishi Endeavor
2008 Mitsubishi Endeavor
2008 Mitsubishi Endeavor. Click image to enlarge

Audio controls are found on the rear of the horizontal spokes, apparently lifted from a Chrysler product. The cruise control lever is the industry-familiar multi-function stalk, found at the 4 PM position. While the headlamp switch does not label a specific Auto setting, they will shut off automatically in the On position as you exit the vehicle. Wipers provide intermittent swipe for front and rear panes. Dial controls adjust the HVAC settings, which include Auto climate positions. Bear in mind that there is only one zone setting for the front passengers.

The six-CD Rockford-Fosgate audio head unit has simplistic controls: what would be even simpler is an auxiliary audio jack; cable interfaces for audio devices are available at extra cost. The hooded Navi touch screen is as scary as a hooded goon. Display contrast, icons, and Navi clarity have all the love of a $29.95 DVD player. Your inner meteorologist will crave the barometric pressure graph, when the outside temperature gauge just isn’t good enough. In the Obvious Afterthought Department, we find the Navi DVD tray below the HVAC controls. (Most manufacturers have been successfully hiding this portal to the direction dimension.) The Navi hood plastic appears to be a refugee from the top of a fast food restaurant waste bin. The driver’s door pod houses the power exterior mirror controls, with the driver window receiving an Auto descent. The parking brake is a floor-mount pedal, with no snag issues.

Cubbies!

The glove-box is a somewhat cavernous bin, once you remove the literature. The weird part is that there is an obvious location on the glove-box door for a lock cylinder, which must have been nixed at the last minute. The centre console gets a unique spin on the bin. The fold-up armrest reveals tissue and pen holders on its underbelly, but we’re still not in. A thin flip-top tray reveals the main cavity. The 12-volt DC powerpoint is kept outside of the console cavern. In a word, this storage configuration is best described as semi-secure.

The front door panels present larger than average bottle holders, assuming your bottle is a Big Gulp. In the second row, the driver’s side seatback adds a mesh pocket. The front passenger seatback removes the pocket, which gave me hope that the seatback would flip forward for long cargo or Road Warrior workstation space. Much cussing and owner’s manual flippage confirmed that this is not the case. Rear door panels add thin pockets, with dual cupholder duty supplied by the fold down armrest. At least Mitsy recognizes the need for a cup cinch system for the rear seat; the dual front cupholder has neither cinch nor depth. Note the second 12-volt DC powerpoint on the rear of the centre console, as well as HVAC vents with fan-only adjustment.

2008 Mitsubishi Endeavor
2008 Mitsubishi Endeavor
2008 Mitsubishi Endeavor
2008 Mitsubishi Endeavor
2008 Mitsubishi Endeavor
2008 Mitsubishi Endeavor
2008 Mitsubishi Endeavor. Click image to enlarge
The overhead

It’s a little underwhelming up top, with a simple day/night rear-view mirror, sunglasses holder, and dual lighted vanity mirrors. The visors have minimal slide factor for sunblock, unless I broke something accidentally. (Sorry Mitsy.) The sunroof is larger than most, even with the add-on accessory deflector. The roof rails include sliding crossbars, with a dial-in locking system.

Seat treat

The driver’s seat provides a six-way power play, with an inboard manual lever lumbar bladder. The Inside Story Comfort Dummy found the rear seat leg and headroom to be ample, though he questioned the lack of reclining seatbacks. He also mumbled something about the dry-cleaning bills for his pants, thanks to the add-on side-steps position.

Cargo embargo

The simple fold system for the rear seats provides an ample load space, with a load floor very close to flat. A feature that has all but disappeared amongst most ‘utes is the pop-up tailgate glass. Note the fashionable telephone cords for the rear defroster grid, and the shiny connectors for the rear wiper bunion. Very Life on Mars. A third 12-volt DC powerpoint is found on the cargo area wall, with cargo hooks and future provisions for an accessory cargo area cover.

Spare care

Here’s a neat trick. The cargo floor biscuit actually has enough space to be propped up inside the vehicle for spare access. Note that the rubber biscuit is actually a full-size spare, mounted on a steel rim. Mitsubishi will change that tire for you, during the first five years of ownership, with no mileage limit. No word on whether they will also bring a spray bomb of matching paint to finish off the spare tire well.

The mill

The 225-horsepower 3.8 litre V6 is comfortable looking like an engine, without any plastic shields. It’s also comfortable with showing off plenty of wiring, sans heat shrink protection. Fluid level access returned no complaints.

The Verdict

The last time I drove an Endeavor was on a 2006 press junket, when my driving partner asked if it was okay if he took a nap on the ride back to Kelowna. He didn’t miss anything. I am truly hopeful that the next incarnation of Endeavor will be as innovative as the current Lancer and Outlander. There is too much missing here in the areas of comfort, innovation, styling, and pricing to make this ‘ute worthy of anything but a well-deserved production hiatus. One star.

Next week: 2009 Mazda6

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