Chris Miller road tests and reviews the 2013 Mitsubishi Pajero GLX-R.
Mitsubishi’s answer to Toyota’s Landcruiser has long been the Pajero; tried & tested, it’s tough, spacious and will take you almost anywhere for considerably less money than the Toyota.
The new 2014 model adds to an already accomplished package, even if it is starting to feel a bit long in the tooth.
From the outside you’d need to be a Pajero obsessive to notice the difference between the MY14 and the last model, not that it’s a bad thing, the Pajero has always been a reasonably handsome unit.
Similarly, you won’t find anything earth shattering in the way of new design inside, just little tweaks that build on an already substantial package.
Priced at $58,990, before on roads, for the automatic variant, the Mitsubishi Pajero GLX-R is one up from the base model and is the entry point for families looking for seven seats and a bit more kit than found on the GLX.
Standard fare includes 17-inch alloy wheels, front skid plate, rear fog lamps, roof rails and wheel arch flares.
Colour-coded exterior door mirrors and handles, rear tailgate spoiler, integrated side steps and front mud guards, leather steering wheel and shift knobs, automatic climate control with manual rear cabin zone air-conditioning, power windows and multi-function trip computer complement an electro-chromatic mirror with built in reverse monitor.
The audio system comes with single CD player, six speakers, USB port with iPod control interface and AUX audio input. Voice controlled Bluetooth 2.0 with steering wheel controls, mobile hands-free and wireless audio streaming is also standard fare.
There are plenty of storage areas within the cabin, and overall fit and finish is quite impressive.
The materials used couldn’t be called luxurious, but are hardy and robust, perfect for the sticky fingers of a four year old, and easily up to the task of dust and mud if you want to get off the beaten track.
Visibility is excellent all round and the driving position has you sitting up high with a commanding view of the road ahead. The dash layout hasn’t changed much over the years with a speed and tacho either side of the 4 Wheel Drive display.
Trip information comes up in the centre stack, displayed using an antiquated digital readout, and along with fuel economy readouts has a compass and also displays audio settings and Bluetooth phone info.
The seats are comfortable enough and there is an exuberant amount of rear leg room in the second row of seats, the third row is best left kids or adults at a pinch.
The seven-seats can be arranged into multiple configurations with the third row seat able to fold, drop or recline and can be stowed under the cargo floor or taken out completely. Cargo space is an enormous 1789 litres with all back seats folded flat.
Under the bonnet is Mitsubishi’s familiar 4-Cylinder 3.2L Common Rail Direct Injection Intercooled Turbo Diesel, as tested, mated to a five-speed auto transmission with Sports Mode.
The 5-Speed manual variant will save you $3000.
While the engine does have a bit of an agricultural clatter that intrudes into the cabin, particularly at start up, the 147kw and 441Nm does an excellent job of pulling the 2314kg mass of the Pajero around.
It’s rated to tow 3000kg. The auto box isn’t the smoothest in the business, but generally seems to be in the right gear at the right time and does a good enough job not to be an annoyance.
Possibly the most astounding thing about the Pajero is the excellent fuel economy. Mitsubishi quote a combined 9.0 litres per 100km, a figure we were easily able to replicate, in fact, we did a little better; 8.9 litres per 100km over about 500km of city and country driving.
On the road the big Pajero lollops about, never really wanting to be pushed into anything, particularly corners. And with the high ride and body roll that is always evident, you wouldn’t want to push.
The ride at times can be a little twitchy, but generally it soaks up the worst Aussie roads can throw at it without too much fuss. The steering is heavyish and can be rather vague, another reason not to push. Overall though, it’s a relaxed ride that’s easy to live with.
Off road is where the Pajero shines. You want to head up a rutted mountain track and wade through a river crossing? No problems.
Four modes give you the choice of standard two (rear) wheel drive designed specifically for the road and fuel efficiency, full time four wheel drive for when traction is at a premium with a torque split between 36% of power sent to front wheels & 67% sent to the back, or if the Pajero decides, depending on conditions, to alter the split up to 50% front & 50% rear.
4HLC is best used in rugged, extremely slippery conditions where all power is distributed equally to all four wheels, while 4LLC provides tractor-like crawling power, locking the differential and maximising the torque split for the most extreme conditions.
Whether or not the Pajero is as capable off road as the Landcruiser is a decision best left to four wheel driving experts, but I’d suggest the Pajero is capable enough to cope with anything a novice four wheel driver could throw at it, and in this day and age of pretend four wheel drives, the Pajero is one of only a couple left that can be considered the real deal.
At the end of the day the Toyota Landcruiser remains the king. It truly is spectacular off the road and on the road is only rivalled by the Range Rover costing $100,000 more.
The Pajero though is a competent, capable off-roader with reasonable on road manners, bucket loads of space, all the mod cons you really need and a great build quality.
Throw in the fact that it is almost $30k cheaper than a 200 Series Landcrusier and it really starts to stack up.
The only spanner in the works is Nissan’s Y61 diesel Patrol. Sure it too is getting a bit long in the tooth, but it is priced very similarly to the Pajero and with slightly better on road manners, and could be considered serious competition to the Mitsubishi.
The Pajero though offers more power, better economy, 5-Star ANCAP safety rating via a full complement of active & passive safety technology, a longer warranty (by 2 years), and is kinder to the environment by emitting less Co2. Kind of makes it a slam dunk for the Pajero!
NUTS and BOLTS
Engine: 3.2 litre turbo diesel producing 147kW and 441Nm
Transmission: 5-Speed Automatic
Safety: Five stars
Price: From $50,990