PAJERO FORTUNE R EVEREST
Back in the bad old days, SUVs used technology adapted from the era of the horse and cart with a big chassis, axles attached somewhat loosely and a body plonked on top. Crude but effective, and we didn’t know any better. That the dynamics were dodgy was by-the-by; they were trucks that would take you across both towns and rivers. Then crossovers took over and the hairy-arsed adventurers among us lamented the loss of proper rigs like the Pathfinder and Sorento. Even the Jeep Cherokee is now a unibody softie. This has left a space in the market for full chassis trucks and so we welcome three newbies, built the way 4x4s used to be constructed. From Ford, there’s the new Everest, while Mitsubishi replaces the old Challenger with the Pajero Sport, and Toyota adds the Fortuner to its line-up. So which is best?
What’s the idea here?
These three are designed to tackle the wilds and so are underpinned by a full-frame chassis, each using a modified version of the ute upon which they are based. Each however is shorter overall than their ute counterpart, with tucked rear overhangs, and abbreviated wheelbases. Suspension-wise, all have wishbones up front and rack and pinion steering. At the rear, the leaf springs have been ditched and a slightly more sophisticated arrangement locates the live axle, all using trailing arms, roll bars and coil springs. The Toyota and Mitsubishi use the Panhard rod to help control the lateral movement of the axle, while Ford uses a Watts linkage, generally thought as more effective but heavier. They all borrow their ute’s diesel engine too. Fortuner has a 2.8-litre four with 130kW, and 450Nm at 1600-2400rpm and comes with a six-speed auto (though you can get a manual if you prefer but you lose 20Nm). The Pajero Sport uses Mitsi’s new 2.4, good for 135kW, and 437Nm at 2500rpm and introduces a new eight-speed auto. The Everest uses Ranger’s 3.2 in-line five but it’s down slightly on power at 143kW due to a lower compression ratio for better Euro 5 emissions (like the others here) but its beefy torque (470Nm from 1750rpm) remains as strong as ever. It has the same six-speed auto as the Ranger, but gets a new permanent four-wheel drive system with a variable centre diff. This runs a typical 40/60 split, but can change according to traction demands. There’s a four-mode off-road traction system too, and also a lo-range and a rear diff lock. The Pajero Sport uses the same variable AWD system as the top Triton with a switchable centre diff offering rear-drive, AWD, and 4x4 with the centre diff locked and a low range as well. There’s various off-road modes too but no rear diff lock on NZ-spec trucks. The Fortuner is mechanically identical to the 4x4 Hilux so it’s a rear driver until it’s switched to 4x4 mode where it runs a constant 50/50 split and this is recommended for loose surfaces only with 4-Lo and a diff lock for the rough stuff. All three have the various hill descent control systems.
underpinned by a full-frame chassis, each uses a modified version of the ute upon which It is based