April 8, 2012

Pajero's generation gap

First- and second-generation Mitsubishi Pajeros have a strong following among off-road enthusiasts. You see them everywhere from winch challenges to easy tag-alongs. I've never thought they were all that good off-road, but really liked driving them on the road. Off the highway, their independent front suspension put them at an immediate disadvantage to their beam-axled Nissan, Toyota, Land Rover and Jeep rivals. Still, lots of people obviously like them for the tracks and trails. Not so of the third and fourth generations, though. I rarely seem them on the track. The Gen 3s were pretty useless off-road, what with their all-independent suspension, until the factory fitted electronic traction control. Since then, they've been good, as long as the vehicle has enough ground clearance.  
The trouble with the Pajero now, I've decided after a week with the top Exceed model, is that it’s become a bit tired. That’s no fault of the vehicle itself; blame the march of technology. It’s falling behind in such areas as NVH, ride and handling. The 3.2 litre 150kW and 448Nm engine is too noisy, rough and power-strapped for the 2012 market. I guess you could get the V6 petrol but you’d be swapping 9.2 litres of diesel per 100km for 13.5. Update: NZ4WD magazine has rated this Pajero as unbeatable by its rivals off-road. No, it wasn't the April Fool's issue either, but in November 2012. You go figure!


  1. Interesting. I had a test-drive of a Pajero the other day as a possible company car and came to exactly the same conclusion. I wasn't all that impressed with the Prado either, the Pathfinder leaves me cold and a Discovery is too expensive. What other choices have I got?

    1. Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo with the Pentastar V6 petrol.

  2. No question, the old Pajeros were the best; they'd go where cruisers and safari's just bogged down.

  3. Interesting fact is that the gen3 pajero, with all independent suspension, has more wheel travel than gen2 and gen1 as standard also at the rear axle. So by the wheel travel, it should not be any worse off road. I believe, it's just the word independent, and some sort of phobia caused by that which makes people think it is worse.

    At least in Europe, all the early gen3's came as standard with the 100% factory rear locker, so they were not actually all that useless even in that matter. When the TC models arrived, the locker although disappeared, returning again in the fourth generation.

    Handling, is still superior compared to land cruiser at the limits because of the lower center of gravity. But the refinement is what lacks. The vehicle is quite advanced, especially the chassis structure being fully monocoque, it is over 3 x stronger in torsional rigidity than a normal 4x4 ladder frame chassis. Problem is that it is advanced for rally driving, and fast offroading, offering very good handling at the limits. But not so good for refinement, and NVH. Actually cause of the noise, is exactly the same, monocoque chassis. In most 4x4's, including old Pajero's, the chassis excellently isolates all the noises from the body.

    If you want to build off road rally car, this is one of the best straight from the factory. :)