For trips and towing
Roomy, robust yet refined, the Pajero swallows gear and relishes pulling vans or boats
The Mitsubishi Pajero has long been a favourite with those wanting a capable off-roader but not the bulk of the Toyota LandCruiser or Nissan Patrol.
Launched in the 1980s, the Pajero evolved into a more refined and comfortable wagon without losing any of its renowned off-road capabilities.
The NW series that arrived in 2011 was very capable offroad while its size meant it wasn’t as cumbersome around town, as the big Toyota and Nissan wagons could be.
In long wheelbase only, the wagon came in a range of spec, from GL to Platinum, adding equipment on the way up.
Its high driving position translated into good all-round vision and ease of driving. The roomy cabin could to accommodate up to seven with good headroom and decent legroom, although the third row was a squeeze for adults and more suited to children.
The second and third row seats could be folded to swallow more gear if needed, though folding them was awkward.
Diesels accounted for the majority of sales. By 2011, Mitsubishi had almost phased out the petrol V6 — the 3.8-litre version was available in the Exceed but even that was dropped in 2014.
The 3.2-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel (147kW/441Nm) did the job admirably, whether in town or the bush or on the highway. There was plenty of grunt for towing up to 3000kg (braked), as many owners did.
There was a five-speed manual gearbox but most owners opted for the five-speed auto with sports mode. Parttime 4WD allowed the driver to change to and from rear-drive on the move, at up to 100km/h.
Independent suspension gave the Pajero greater agility than some 4WDs but the ride was firmer than in an SUV.
Owners regard the Pajero as well built and reliable and few reported issues. Many use their 4WD for towing a caravan or boat around the country, many go off-road with them and all say the Pajeros do the tasks well.
For anyone thinking of buying a second-hand example it’s important to check for signs of off-road use. Normal, light off-road use isn’t a problem — it’s when the vehicle is used in heavy four-wheel driving and pushed to the limit that it can be an issue.
Look for dings in the body, scratches and scrapes in the paint and a bashed or sandblasted underbody.
If you find signs that a Pajero has been punished, look for another that has been well cared for.
The best buys will be among the bulk of examples that have had city use.
Check for a credible service history showing regular maintenance — Mitsubishi recommended servicing at 12 months or 15,000km intervals.
Chris O’Connor I wanted a car that was stylish, economical, comfortable, family friendly, easy to service and great offroad. I settled on a 2013 GLX-R. My only complaint is that the rearmost seat isn’t a split-fold type, and it’s really only suitable for kids. Apart from that it’s been great. Alan Jackson I can’t say enough about the Pajero. I’ve owned three of them over the past 20 years. My current one is a 2011 VR-X and it’s right up there with the others. The engine is more powerful than the previous one and it’s reasonably economical. My one criticism is that the brake disc rotors warp easily. Harvey Siede My 2013 VR-X is perfect for the purpose I bought it for, which was to tow a 2.5-tonne caravan. The diesel engine has more than enough torque and tows the caravan with ease. I couldn’t be happier. Peter Bowen I bought my 2013 GLX-R new. I wanted a large wagon to tow a caravan and do a bit of off-roading, and it’s been great. I’m very happy with it.
A capable, comfortable family wagon that suits towing duties or the dream off-road trip.