by Brad Leach - 14/11/12
OK, so the Dakar Rally isnt really as relevant to road-registered SUVs as V8 Supercars are to the Commodores and Falcons parked in the rental car yard. But Mitsubishi Pajero has stamped its toughness not only with Dakar victories but also in numerous other arduous competitions for standard vehicles, including numerous victories stories in the standard class of the Australian Off-Road Racing Championship.
Mitsubishi Pajero has for a long time earned its stripes in the toughness department – whether that is conquering the outback, towing a massive caravan or just the rough-and-tumble of family life.
Car Showroom tested the range-topping Mitsubishi Pajero Exceed. Loaded with extra including woodgrain trim, leather seats and a rear-seat DVD entertainment system, the Mitsubishi Pajero Exceed (diesel) is priced at $77,690, but starting price for the Pajero lineup is $50,590.
Mitsubishi Pajero is a full-size SUV and its off-road prowess matches the best of them. And a three-tonne towing capacity means the Pajero is immensely popular for towing large caravans, boats and horse-floats.
There’s a lot to like in the looks department too. With its curvy front end, Mitsubishi Pajero has always been distinctive and commands a purposeful stance.
But toughness is the Pajero hallmark and if you’re heading on a road trip from say the East Coast to Darwin, the Mitsubishi Pajero could you there comfortably – regardless of the route.
Our Mitsubishi Pajero Exceed ran the 3.2-litre, four-cylinder, common-rail turbo-diesel engine. With 147kW/441Nm, Mitsubishi Pajero has one of the most powerful turbo-diesels in the segment.
Fuel economy is rated at 9.2l/100kms which, while not matching Toyota Kluger (8.8l/100kms) or Ford Territory (9.0l/100kms), is ahead of LandCruiser and Patrol and – given the output of Mitsubishi’s 3.2-litre - is still impressive.
Drive is via a five-speed automatic (Territory stands out in this league with its six-speeder).
On the road that 3.2-litre turbo-diesel surprised with its quite operation and general refinement – better in fact that Mitsubishi Challenger’s 2.5-litre turbo-diesel.
Inside, our Mitsubishi Pajero Exceed showed-off its range-topping stature with abundant woodgrain (including the steering wheel) and heated leather seats.
While the steering wheel only adjusts for rake, plenty of electronic adjustment for the driver’s seat provided a good driving position – although the seat design is a tad flat and doesn’t afford the lateral support of some rival designs.
The conventional gauges delivered a nice style and we always like Mitsubishi’s LCD multi-function display (centre console) with lots of information like outside temperature for the last few hours and instant and historic fuel consumption.
Mitsubishi Pajero Exceed scores an excellent nine-speaker Rockford Fosgate audio system with iPod connectivity.
The Car Showroom juniors enjoyed plenty of legroom outback and the roof-mounted DVD player with a nine-inch screen and infrared cordless headphones.
With its bulging and curvaceous front fenders, large glasshouse and a distinctive rear-end, the Mitsubishi Pajero has always delivered a unique look. Cutting-edge when it first appeared, the Mitsubishi Pajero has stood the test of time and still looks purposeful.
Our Exceed model was painted in a modern metallic brown which looked the part.
New for 2012, Mitsubishi Pajero receives an updated front grille and bumper plus (for VRX and Exceed models) new-design 18-inch alloy wheels.
There’s so much technology in the Mitsubishi Pajero when you climb behind the wheel and start the engine you almost go through a pre-flight check list like an Airbus A380 pilot…set the satellite navigation, set the Multi Communication System to your desired screen (historical/instant fuel consumption was our choice), check the reversing camera image, set the automatic air-conditioning and so-on. The 3.2-litre turbo diesel is by now emitting its purposeful growl and you’re ready for take-off.
All very impressive and the sort of experience you’d expect from a $77 SUV.
Like Nissan Patrol and Toyota LandCruiser, once on the road the Mitsubishi Pajero feels like a large vehicle and you need care when negotiating tight city streets. Parking in our tight CBD carpark was a different story – lots of steering lock (a requirement for serious off-roading) and the reversing camera meant the sizeable Mitsubishi Pajero could slot into a bay with relative ease.
Over our high-speed mountain roads test loop, the Mitsubishi Pajero wasn’t quite as nimble as the acclaimed Ford Territory. Still predictable and safe, but there was a fair bit of body roll and the steering wasn’t quite as sharp as Territory or Toyota Kluger.
Against that we must say Mitsubishi’s 3.2-litre turbo diesel was a compliant worker, if not quite in the Kluger league for fuel consumption. Compared to some Japanese diesels the Pajero was ahead in refinement and noise suppression and the torque spread was impressive (no wonder Pajero is so popular with those who tow big trailers).
One of the great things about the automotive industry is the rapid pace of development. When the current generation Mitsubishi Pajero first appeared it was at the sharp end of the field both off-road and on the back stuff. But newer arrivals like the current generation Ford Territory and Toyota Kluger have leapt ahead with better fuel economy and smoother on-road drives.
Mitsubishi Pajero owners are a loyal bunch, super-keen on their cars and they vouch for the toughness/go-anywhere agility of Mitsubishi’s SUV hero. Many sing the praises of Pajero’s hefty 3.0-tonne towing capacity…and you certainly do see a lot of Pajeros towing huge trailers.
But there’s no denying Pajero is getting to the end of it current model life and newer designs are ahead in terms of on-road driving dynamics.
That said, Mitsubishi has been clever with its upgrades for the 2012 Pajero and our Exceed model was certainly bursting with goodies and luxury kit.
Depending on your size requirements you’ll probably be looking at Toyota Prado Kakadu ($88,904 for the 127kW/410Nm turbo-diesel) or Toyota LandCruiser 4.5GXL ($87,664 for the 195kW/650Nm V8 turbo-diesel). Against those, the feature-packed Mitsubishi Pajero Exceed ($77,690) is certainly a bargain…however the Toyota duo offers nicer on-road dynamics.
Nissan Patrol Ti ($72,690 for the 118kW/354Nm turbo-diesel) is ahead on the dollars but lagging in the engine department. Hard to separate the Patrol and Pajero in driving dynamics.
The latest Ford Territory is a Car Showroom favourite and while not quite in the Pajero league for size, the Titanium grade all-wheel-drive turbo-diesel (140kW/440Nm) has lots of kit and is great to drive.
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