Gen 3 debate, 3.5 or 3.8?

kbahus

Adventurer
Having been unsuccessful at finding a gen 2.5 to replace my built 80 series I am thinking about settling on a gen3 as there are several for sale within in a couple hours of me. I was originally going to purchase a 100 series but since I just moved from Colorado to Michigan it seems my needs have changed as I foresee more overland type journeys with midwest style four wheeling unless I head back west. My question comes from choosing a gen 3, is the 2003+ model worth the premium price over the 01-02 models? There is a couple thousand to be saved by going with a 01-02 and it has me on the fence. I have read that the early XLS models came with better gear ratio which might be nice for towing and offroad, but then the 3.8 models came with traction control. Can anyone provide some first hand experience with these trucks?
 

Mrknowitall

Adventurer
No first hand, but I can share what I've learned in my search-
The early trucks had a rear LSD (usually) and it works very well, but the TC is supposed to work well, too.
None of them will be fast, but the 3.8 (2003+) is a little more spry.
The Early XLS does have a 4.90 gear, but the 5 speed in the other trucks more than makes up for it- highway cruising in hill country might be better on 33's, but not enough- and definitely not enough for MI. 1st gear in the 4.30/5speed trucks is deeper than in the 4.90/4speeds.
All that said, I'm shopping for a 2001-2002 LTD (unless the right XLS comes along for much less), but I'm taking my search south of the rust belt. I don't want to invest a bunch of time and money, only to lose it to cancer.
 

kbahus

Adventurer
I have been looking at stuff in the South Bend area and am simply shocked at the rust even newer vehicles have. I am hoping Chicago is a little better.
 

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Inyo_man

Explorer
The 3.8 would be nice for highway driving IMHO.
When driving on road, fully laden for an off road adventure, I'm often in want for more top end.
Of course, I've also got a lot of extra weight bolted on the rig.
Once we hit the dirt, the 3.5 is fine- the low end gearing and power are fine.
Good Luck
 

kbahus

Adventurer
Inyo_man, do you have a Limited or XlS? I will likely equip my trucl exactly like yours down to the tires. I had the ST/Maxx's on my 80 loved them. Do you have any pics of your rig? Also, what kind of mpg's do get unloaded?
 

Inyo_man

Explorer
Inyo_man, do you have a Limited or XlS? I will likely equip my trucl exactly like yours down to the tires. I had the ST/Maxx's on my 80 loved them. Do you have any pics of your rig? Also, what kind of mpg's do get unloaded?
My is a limited.
The leather is amazing...cleans up easily and takes a beating.
The cruise control is a life saver on long hauls to the Rockies where there is a fair bit of highway driving.
Although I could go without the sky roof, the kids love to stick their heads out of it, or talk to us when they are riding on the roof rack.
The mpg's are not great, mostly because of the extra weight and aggressive tires. I thing we get about 14-16 mpg around town with some short highway spurts mixed in.

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P1011999.jpg
 

jlocster

Explorer
My is a limited.
The leather is amazing...cleans up easily and takes a beating.
The cruise control is a life saver on long hauls to the Rockies where there is a fair bit of highway driving.
Although I could go without the sky roof, the kids love to stick their heads out of it, or talk to us when they are riding on the roof rack.
The mpg's are not great, mostly because of the extra weight and aggressive tires. I thing we get about 14-16 mpg around town with some short highway spurts mixed in.

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Me gusta
 

nwoods

Expedition Leader
Michigan? Well my friend, what you really need is an old pickup on 38" tires, straight pipes, and the biggest 4 barrel carb that'll fit. Michigan has mud and sand, both in copious quantities. Horsepower and ground clearance is KING in Michigan

 

montypower

Off Road Enthusiast
Let's see.... lots of differences:

1. All 2003+ come with the 5 speed transmission (only the limited 01-02 had that option)
2. You can upgrade to 4.90 gears which is perfect for 33-35" tires (XLS 01-02 already has 4.90s so no upgrade possible)
3. Traction control. No comparison. It's the best I've ever seen in any vehicle. Simply brilliant. I've driven mine on trails throughout the US (over 11k miles since April) and it's my dedicated expedition vehicle. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6vcfGK_9E6U
4. 3.8L has more power and torque.
5. Can run on regular unleaded. 3.5 requires premium. However, the 3.8L performs better on premium as well (I run mine with premium).

Downside:
Slightly lower to the ground. 8.6" ground clearance vs 9.3" ground clearance

Be willing to travel for the right Montero. I flew across the country for mine.
 

kbahus

Adventurer
Watching that video and some others makes me cry, the Montero has such limited flex it makes me second guess buying one. If I go back home I don't think it would tackle any local trails, but maybe I am mistaken and underestimating it.
 

Monstero

Adventurer
3.8 says premium recommended on fuel door. its a 10:1 to compression so it is much happier on premium because of that. I love the 3.8L and all its characteristics. The transmission and the extra power provided is noticeable. I have driven a 3.5 and was not unhappy with it but it was noticeable. This topic has been covered on here a bunch of times so look around and you see a bunch more perspectives than those in this thread.
 

nwoods

Expedition Leader
Watching that video and some others makes me cry, the Montero has such limited flex it makes me second guess buying one. If I go back home I don't think it would tackle any local trails, but maybe I am mistaken and underestimating it.
You're not wrong. Montero's pull wheelies all over the place. Very little flex. However, they are tough as nails and their TC system is pretty good, especially for their era. It's a third generation system from the same engineering company that Land Rover buys from (the LR3 would be an example of a 4th gen TC system).
 

montypower

Off Road Enthusiast
Watching that video and some others makes me cry, the Montero has such limited flex it makes me second guess buying one. If I go back home I don't think it would tackle any local trails, but maybe I am mistaken and underestimating it.
Yeah, if you want to look cool... buy something else. However, these trucks flat out go. I've owned solid axle rigs locked, geared on 35-36" tires. Driven the Rubicon and most every trail in Oregon & Washington (we have a lot) and this truck gets it done. I've owned a 91, 92, 95, 00 and now the 03 Montero. I built some other rigs as well 83 Hilux, 86 4runner (sas), 92 Isuzu PU (rather modified) and 13 Tacoma (Expedition Build).

My 03 will be rolling on 35s next month. Getting dual ARBs w/ 4.90 gears installed. King 2.5" Coilovers w/ resi. Custom rear springs. Full rear camper build w/ heat, water and bike storage. And adding an Aux Fuel tank. The rear diff have over 15" of ground clearance on 33s. The front skids have nearly 13" of ground clearance. Just for comparison... a hummer on 37s has 17" of diff clearance.

The 03 is my favorite Montero so far. Fantastic for driving 12-14hrs. Excellent high speed handling on rough roads.
 

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