In September, Mitsubishi announced the latest round of updates for its venerable Pajero, not too many feathers were stirred in the large SUV segment. Toyota’s Land Cruiser Prado is newer, and sells in greater numbers. For us, though, the Pajero is a bit special: it’s currently leading the charge for most popular review on this website in 2014. Is that a surprise? Absolutely. But clearly, a market for this big, ageing truck lives on.
We’ve borrowed the keys to a 2015 Pajero GLX automatic for the week, to see what’s changed. This mid-range model, powered (like all Pajeros are) by the 3.2-litre turbodiesel, doesn’t even break $60,000. So, is it the right choice to forego the comforts and refinement of the Prado, for the cheaper, more traditional Mitsubishi? That’s what we’re finding out.
- OK, this truck is now officially old—fifteen years old, in fact, with the underpinnings (and a good deal of the looks) dating back to the 1999 model. Fast forward to today, and the Pajero’s dynamics feel that old. They’re outclassed by the Toyota, which will set you back about ten grand more than the Mitsubishi.
- It’s priced right where it should be. We’re talking mid-fifties for a very generously-sized truck, with heaps of cargo space, seven seats, and a ton of grunt. Mitsubishi recognise that, in the absence of an all-new model, they needed to pull out the stops to keep the Pajero competitive. With a price like this, you’d be mad not to at least give it a look in.
- The diesel engine isn’t bad. It’s now the sole powerplant since the 3.8-litre petrol V6 was ditched. It’s a large four-cylinder unit, with the 3.2-litre capacity displacing 147kW and 441Nm. It’s by no means quick, but it’s a big, brash, loud diesel that can tow 3,000 braked kilograms. Not bad.
- And the handling? The generous word would be ‘ponderous’. The huge steering wheel is more of a tiller which advises the front wheels, rather than directs them with precision. Turning the Pajero isn’t confidence-inspiring. In town, lock-to-lock requires plenty of effort, while at high speeds, the steering never weights up, meaning this truck doesn’t feel particularly stable on the highway. Those traits are fairly typical for traditional body-on-frame chassis designs like the Pajero (which makes it great off road—and it still is), but Toyota have managed to nail down on-road manners more convincingly.
- The cabin is large and spacious for everybody on board—as long as your passengers in the sixth and seventh seats are children. The other five pews are fine for long road trips. We wish that the front seats were more sculpted. You sit on them, rather than in them. And, to us, the cloth trim of the GLX model is preferable for comfort over the (admittedly more durable) leather of the Exceed.
- There’s no sat-nav on the GLX, and while the touchscreen looks totally aftermarket, it’s simple to use. Connecting iPods and Bluetooth audio devices is quick and easy. Just don’t expect too much of the sound system: it’s pretty basic. Plus, wind noise is prolific due to the not-so-aerodynamic lines, and the engine doesn’t mind a chat.
- For 2015, a few aesthetic touches have been applied: despite being second-from-the-bottom, the GLX gets a host of chrome trims; there are now the obligatory daytime running lights mounted at the front. A black strip across the rear rounds out the visual changes, so yes, picking a 2015 from a 2014 model is a trainspotter’s affair.