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The cur­rent Pa­jero has been around for what seems like decades but the brand keeps sweet­en­ing the deal on price and fea­tures. The GLS, one step down from the Ex­ceed flag­ship, earns its pop­u­lar­ity on over­all spec and price. The 3.2-litre turbo diesel (147kW/441Nm) is a bit of a growler in op­er­a­tion, re­turn­ing 9.3L/100km in mixed driv­ing, not bad for a 2255kg ve­hi­cle. Ser­vice is capped at $2600 over 4 years/60,000km at 15,000km in­ter­vals.


It’s on a mono­coque chas­sis, like a pas­sen­ger car, and the sus­pen­sion is in­de­pen­dent all around — good for re­fine­ment but tested when out in the boonies. The dash is mostly hard plas­tic with all the in­fo­tain­ment run through a seven-inch touch­screen. The cabin has an airy feel and you sit in high-mounted seats, a plus most of the time. Seats in rows two and three are easy to stow. Stor­age com­part­ments dot the cabin and the rear air­con is ap­pre­ci­ated. But there’s no reach ad­just on the steer­ing wheel.


The en­gine is not a new de­sign but does a good job. The five-speed auto is out of the ark but has myr­iad drive op­tions — pos­si­bly too many — as well as a rear diff lock. It’s easy to de­spise the In­te­grated Smart Phone func­tion, which streams stuff by app through your phone. How much data would that use on a trip up to Dar­win?


A mono­coque chas­sis has crash pro­tec­tion ben­e­fits over a lad­der chas­sis be­cause it, not you, takes the im­pact. Airbags, trailer sway con­trol, rollover pro­tec­tion ... there’s the full in­ven­tory to earn five stars but lit­tle in way of driver as­sis­tance apart from re­vers­ing cam­era, auto head­lights and wipers.


The Pa­jero is nois­ier and has more vi­bra­tions but it has the per­for­mance ad­van­tage over the Prado. Off-road it’s pretty handy, if ham­strung in tough go­ing by the in­de­pen­dent rear sus­pen­sion. Con­trols are easy to use and the au­dio is im­pres­sive. It’s set up for the long haul. Ground clear­ance is good and it will tow 3000kg.

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