- It's still a handsome truck
- Torquey diesel gets the job done
- Ultra-sharp pricing
- Pajero Sport's diesel is more refined
- Fiddly third-row seat deployment
- Flat front seats
Sure, it’s getting older, but the 2016 Mitsubishi Pajero is a roomy seven-seater with a good engine and a razor-sharp price. The Pajero is still a compelling option for families looking for a large SUV.
The Pajero is a handsome truck that has aged well, and it’s hard to argue with the deals many Mitsubishi dealers are willing to cut in the low $50,000 range.
That’s a lot of car for the money.
The interior design is a generation old but the addition of Apple CarPlay does a lot to keep this big wagon feeling fresh and smart.
With strong power delivery, the Pajero is a relaxed cruiser and once you’ve mastered its driving dynamics, it’s nippy enough in town as well.
Despite its imposing size, the Pajero isn’t hard to drive – even the smallest lady of the Chasing Cars team quickly felt right at home behind the wheel.
In an age of overstyled cars, the Pajero is an unfussy vehicle with a pretty simple message: lots of features, plenty of durability, room for seven – at a price about $10,000 cheaper than the equivalent Toyota Land Cruiser Prado.
We borrowed the GLS base model – a car that’s realistically available around the magic $50,000 number – to see whether this is all the car your family might need.
While a petrol V6 was offered in the past, that’s been scrapped and just one engine is available on new Pajeros.
It’s a 3.2-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel producing 147kW of power in the mid range, and 441Nm of torque at 2,000rm – or just above idle.
This is an old-school intercooled diesel with a single turbocharger, so it feels quite laggy – but when the torque arrives, the Pajero absolutely feels quick enough.
A five-speed automatic is the sole transmission and, safe to say, the eight-speed auto of the smaller Pajero Sport model is much better.
The five-cog box gets the job done but it slurs around on hills and means the torquey motor makes a bit more rowdy noise than it should.
These older diesels seem to be good on fuel, and the Pajero impressed us with sub-10L/100km fuel consumption over the week.
An enormous steering wheel betrays the age of the interior, but the power steering is relatively light, which makes for easy manoeuvring in town.
Steering feel doesn’t weight up much on the highway, which means the driver needs to make more corrections at high speed in the Pajero than in the Toyota Prado. It’s not that annoying, though.
Soft suspension conceals bumps and potholes in the road very nicely but cornering will never be the Mitsubishi's strong point.
As with any body-on-frame four-wheel-drive, fast cornering is almost impossible and you have to learn to be a bit more patient with the Pajero. Once you’ve learned that skill, it becomes almost a relaxing car to drive.
With excellent vision and a really tall driving position, you do feel fully in command behind the wheel.
The benefit of that body-on-frame chassis is that the Pajero is simply an excellent off-roader.
Most owners know this, and the Pajero is happy playing around in the sand or tackling difficult trails. The wheels articulate impressively and with low-range four-wheel-drive, and locking differentials available, this is a proper all-terrain car – not a soft-roader, like the Holden Captiva.
Wind noise is impressively low in the Pajero, despite its upright windshield – but diesel noise does enter the cabin when you drive it hard.
The Pajero misses advanced safety technologies available on more modern cars but its five-star crash test rating from ANCAP still stands. There are six airbags and the expected last-gen active safety features aboard.
Inside, the Pajero is best described as functional – but it is comfortable, and new technology has improved the whole experience.
The Exceed model’s leather seats are the most supportive, with the GLS base model and GLX mid-range car using fabric chairs that are too flat in the front row.
Soft touch materials don’t surround you in the Pajero, but the main things you touch – including the steering wheel, gear stick and parts of the dash – feel nice enough.
In Exceed trim the interior is lifted with a smattering of wood trim but the other models are quite dark and grey inside.
All Pajero models have had their dodgy old infotainment traded in for a new touchscreen that runs Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
Plug in your iPhone and the Pajero’s interior feels like a different place, with a screen projecting your phone’s good-quality maps, music, Spotify and a range of other apps.
The Pajero was one of the first cars to adopt CarPlay and it really helps.
Back seat passengers are well-looked after with their own air vents and fan controls. The big windows make for an excellent view out for kids.
The second row is extremely roomy, with a ton of headroom and legroom. Third row passengers get their own air vents, too – but room back there is pretty restrictive.
A heavy tailgate that opens outwards is one of the only negatives of the Pajero, practicality-wise.
Once the door’s open the boot is huge, with more than 1,000 litres available with the third row of seats packed away into the floor.
Drop the second row as well and and that space becomes almost 2,000 litres.
Putting those third row seats in place, though, could be generously described as a chore.
The Pajero is simply an old design, so simple and modern third row seats that raise with one pull or a press of a button are, shall we say, not present here.
Instead, it’s a multi-step process to install the third row seats that requires a couple of minutes and some effort.
Most buyers will only need those seats every now and then but other cars like the Prado – and Mitsubishi’s own Pajero Sport model – do this much better.
In the cabin, it’s a roomy experience for five but seven will fit a pinch – practicality that families like for when the kids want to bring along a friend or two.
The Pajero offers 3,000kg of braked towing capacity, and 750kg of unbraked capacity.
All Pajero models have a standard reversing camera, making for safer backing up.
RELIABILITY & RUNNING COSTS
Because the Pajero is an older model, we have a very solid picture of the car’s reliability.
The good news is that Pajero quality has tended to be high and with normal upkeep, these trucks can last a very long time.
The amount of decade-old Pajeros still on the road is testament to their staying power.
Mitsubishi has a relatively average range-wide score from JD Power’s ownership surveys, but the brand has fared well in Australian buyer satisfaction rankings.
Pajeros are built at Mitsubishi’s Gifu plant in Japan – setting them apart from the new Triton-based, and Thai-built, Pajero Sport model.
Owners have reported that the 3.2-litre D-ID diesel engine, coded 4M41, is a very solid unit but timing belt parts must be replaced every 100,000 kilometres without fail.
Mitsubishi offers capped price servicing for the first four years of ownership – and compared to its rivals, the Pajero isn’t too dear to service.
A convenient annual or 15,000 kilometre service varies in price from year to year, but the first three years will cost $1,800.
The same period in a Toyota Prado will cost considerably less at $1,320, but a Y61 Nissan Patrol would be far more costly at $3,220.
The claimed economy of 9L/100km will cost the average driver $1,639 in fuel, with 14,000 kilometres covered annually – or $1,457 in the Prado and $2,149 in the Y61 Patrol.
So the Pajero is pretty middling in the running cost stakes. Keep in mind, though, it’s cheap to buy.
Hyundai has a strong warranty programme with 5 year, 100,000 kilometre coverage longer than all of its rivals.
Predicted Pajero depreciation is below average for the class. After three years and 42,000km—the average—Glass’s Guide indicates that the Pajero GLX will retain about 55% of its value. That’s notably worse than the Toyota Prado GXL’s outstanding 66%, but similar to the Pajero Sport’s 57% and Patrol’s 55%.
Summary of costs for three years of Pajero ownership: $24,390 in depreciation, plus $1,800 in servicing, plus $1,639 in diesel fuel for a total of $27,829.
VALUE FOR MONEY
There are three models in the Pajero range and each represents good value in the large four-by-four segment.
The GLX base model ($53,990) is a price leader for this segment, and in reality deals are even sharper.
For most buyers the GLX will have all the kit you need – seven seats, climate control, Apple CarPlay, cruise control, DAB radio, and a reversing camera are all standard.
Stepping up to the mid-spec GLS ($58,990) adds reverse parking sensors, automatic lights and wipers, heated power-adjustable front seats, and importantly, better seat bolstering for the driver that partially corrects the flatness of the GLS seats.
Some excellent deals can be had on the flagship Exceed ($65,990) which brings a few desirable add-ons – better, leather seats, a premium stereo, sunroof, wood trim through the cabin, and chrome highlights outside.
We would be most tempted by a strong deal on the Exceed though a sub-$50,000 GLX would represent fantastic buying, too.
The sole option is premium paint ($590) with Cool Silver being the most handsome colour.
Though large SUVs can be found everywhere, proper off-roaders with seven seats are becoming rarer. At this price point, the Pajero really only has two competitors, though anybody walking into a Mitsubishi dealer will compare the traditional Pajero with the newer ute-based Pajero Sport.
The Toyota Prado is the most sophisticated car in the class – but it has a price to match.
Nissan have discontinued the diesel-powered Y61 Patrol – which was really getting on and had quite a few concerns about safety features – but they can still be found if you really want one.
Make sure to drive the Pajero Sport, which has an even better diesel engine – though for some, it will simply drive too much like a Triton to be considered car-like.
- Mitsubishi Pajero Sport Exceed: $52,750
- Nissan Patrol Y61 ST Automatic: $60,390
- Toyota Land Cruiser Prado GXL 2.8L Diesel Automatic: $61,990
|Power||147kW at 3,800pm|
|Torque||441Nm at 2,000rpm|
|Power to weight ratio||67kW / tonne|
|Fuel consumption (combined)||9L/100km|
Transmission and Drivetrain
|Drivetrain||Four wheel drive|
Dimensions and Weights
|Cargo space (seats up)||1050 litres|
|Cargo space (seats down)||1789 litres|