The Pajero name has been around for donkeys years and has been recognised for it’s off road prowess I was very keen to try this out when given the opportunity for an extended 2 week test drive.
While the front end has changed slightly over the years but the outside shape hasn’t, which is not a bad thing as you can tell this is a Pajero for any angle.
What it also means is that the Pajero has maintained it’s rugged looks sure there’s more chrome work around the front end and the shape of the headlights has been modernised but the Pajero says to me I’m ready to go off road.
Now while I a lot of 4wd’s see the embarrassing task of being used solely for driving around the suburbs and doing the school run and while the Pajero was going to be spending some time doing the same thing during the 2 weeks I had it I was also determined that I was going to see how good the Pajero is off road as well.
The Exceed sits on top of the Pajero range and priced around the $70,000 mark it has a lot of competition.
Being the top of the range model you would expect the Exceed to well equip and it is, the leather seats which have a heating function for winter are comfortable and supportive and have a decent amount of cushion for driving off road.
The wood and leather bound steering contains buttons for the voice recognition, phone and cruise control, the wheel is comfortable to hold even on a long trip although I thought it was a touch small in diameter.
The instrument panel is well lit and easy to read both day and night time, the centre stack contains a small LCD screen at the top which can display information such as the fuel economy, distance to empty and several others, although to me the graphics look like the graphic equaliser display on a 80’s stereo system.
Below that is the 7 inch touch screen for the Mitsubishi Multi Communication System (MMCS), this system is a bit hit and miss for me, while it’s relatively easy to use it’s not as smooth and easy as other system on the market.
The two days after I picked it up the system seemed to have a mind of it’s own as would change the volume up and down but after I reset the system it’s stopped doing that.
Also I had the problem that I’ve had in every other Mitsubishi with this system finished where it would it disconnect my USB stick quite often in the middle of songs much to my and my passengers annoyance.
But like I said it must be system thing and not just this particular vehicle as every Mitsubishi I’ve driven with this system does the same thing even though I’ve tried 6 different USB sticks that work without issue in every other car I’ve reviewed.
Its shame that it does this as the Rockford Fosgate premium audio system offers great sound thanks to it’s 12 speakers and 10 inch subwoofer powered by a 860 watt amp.
The sat nav system works great and the turn by turn directions are easy to follow although once again I found it not quite as good as others, it did however find a small logging road I was on at the back Lithgow while we were offroading so it got extra points for that. The Climate control aircon works great and cools the car down easily.
Rear seat passengers are well catered for with comfortable seating, plenty of leg room and their own aircon controls. The 9” full-colour screen DVD playing which is game console compatible means the kids will be kept amused even on the longest of trips, it also comes with two pairs of infrared cordless headphones which means no distractions for the driver.
This particular Exceed has a 7 seat capability with the 3 row seats folding into the floor to maximise rear space, the big problem however is that the seat backs are short which means massive head rests which means the seats aren’t really that comfortable. My youngest Samantha who is a connoisseur of 3 row seating was not impressed, she also complained about lack of leg room and said that our Captiva 7 has more room in the back.
One thing I did notice was that the noise levels inside the car were relatively high specially when on the freeway which meant that you had to talk about louder then normal specially when you had passengers in the back seat so the Pajero could use so more sound proofing.
Under the bonnet the Exceed is powered by a 3.2 litre Common Rail Direct Injection Diesel (DiD) engine pushing out 147Kw and a massive 441nM of torque. The engine is a touch noisey at idle and you do know your driving diesel on the road but it does offer impressive performance and had no issues at all even with the Pajero’s 2300kg kerb weight. The torque is developed low in the rev range so the Pajero had no issues keeping up with traffic and given it’s chance could be a little spritely off the mark. The low down torque also means that you will have have plenty of power down low when off roading.
Fuel economy wise because of the way the trip computer works out your fuel economy it was hard to get a good idea on trips to school I saw it go as high 27l/100km in bumper to traffic only to have come down to 16L/100km by the time I’d got back home.
On the freeway the Pajero returns some impressive figures and I saw it dip into the 9L/100km mark and after a 140km drive and 2 hours of 4 wheel driving and crawling up down logging tracks the economy was an impressive 10.1L/100km.
During the 2 weeks I had the Pajero I did 600km which included bumper to bumper go nowhere Sydney Traffic, Freeway driving and going up and down muddy logging tracks off road and the Pajero still had a ¼ of tank left when I returned it and the fuel economy was sitting on 12.7L/100km.
While a lot of it’s competitors are using 6+ speed autos the Pajero has 5 speed automatic with sports mode which however is mated well to the engine and the shifts were smooth.
On the road the Pajero offers a somewhat smooth ride, you do feel some bumps but everybody that rode in it said they liked how it road. Having a high centre of gravity it suffer from a bit of body roll and couple times bends on the freeway had me leaning more then I really liked to do in corners.
Offroad is where the Pajero really excels, it’s independent multi link suspension make sure the Pajero has impressive suspension travel, while I didn’t go extreme off roading I found the Pajero lapping up the rough stuff and asking for more.
We spent a couple of hours driving around some logging roads and going through a couple of muddy stretches as well and I never had the feeling that the Pajero was going to struggle although I did avoid several of the big puddles, my nephew who was tagging along in his 92 Pajero decided he was going to drive through the first big one I drove around and he got bogged so I got to test out how good the Pajero’s pulling power was it fished the other Pajero out without an issue.
Mitsubishi’s super select 4wd system is superb and features 4 different modes and allows you switch between the Pajero to allows you to switch between 2WD High Range for driving around town and on the highway for m economy. To 4H Full-Time 4WD which gives you the added traction in the wet and splits the torque from 33:67 and 50:50.
Take the Pajero off road and the 4HLC 4WD High Range with Locked Centre Differential distributes power equally to all four wheels to keep on the straight narrow while offroad and then when going really gets tough then you can slip it into 4LLC 4WD Low Range with Locked Centre Differential.
The 4LLC when you need all the tractor-like crawling power your Mitsubishi 4WD is capable of. Maximised lowend torque pulls you through even the roughest terrain to get to that isolated spot that only a truly capable 4WD can take you.
Safety wise the Pajero is very well equipped as you would expect from a vehicle with a 5 Star ANCAP safety rating and the list of it’s safety features is as long as your arm including.
Driver and passenger SRS airbags, Side and curtain SRS airbags, Active Stability Control (ASC), Active Traction Control (ATC), Multi-mode Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD), Smart Brake, Engine Brake Assist Control (EBAC), rear parking sensors and it receives bonus points for having a rear view camera as well.
After 2 weeks with the Pajero I really liked it, it’s comfortable to drive, it’s well equipped, has a bucket load of safety features, it’s fantastic offroad and the 3.2L Turbo diesel engine has plenty of power and will return decent economy figures. The only things that were a bit of let down to me was the audio system kept disconnecting my USB stick with all my music on it and the noise levels inside the cabin were a bit loud specially when on the freeway. While I did like the 5 speed auto transmission and thought the shifts were smooth I think that being left behind by some of it’s competitors which are now boasting 6 and 8 speed transmissions and can return better economy figures which is helped by the additional gears.
This of course is off set by just how good of an offroad package this vehicle is and it does works well driving around the suburbs as well.
The Pajero is perfect for any family wanting a car that will perform the family duties during the week but also take you just about anywhere from the forest to the beech on weekends.
For more info on the Pajero range check out Mitsubishi’s website http://www.mitsubishi-motors.com.au/