Mitsubishi Pajero was arguably the first affordable 4WD that was a family wagon rather than a truck-based 4WD when it was launched here in 1983.
It was originally a body-on-chassis 4WD, but became a monocoque for improved ride and comfort in 2000. Good engineering meant the post-2000 models retained similar strength to the chassis models.
Almost all of these early Pajeros are all likely to by past their use by date, so we will begin the used review with the the new generation in December 2006.
Midway through 2013 Pajero was brought right up to date in its infotainment and safety equipment. These models are popular with buyers who can’t come up with the dollars to buy a brand new one.
Pajero comes as a station wagon with either two or four passenger doors. The two-door was never particularly popular and imports stopped with the all-new model of 2000. Then reappeared with the when the new model was launched at the start of end of 2006, but was again taken off the new car list in 2011 due to lack of buyer interest.
All short-wheelbase Pajeros have five seats, the long-wheelbase models have either five or seven. The rearmost two seats in the seven-seat models are better suited to kids than adults but with a bit of squeezing the Pajero can handle seven grown-ups.
All petrols under review here are 3.8-litre V6s. These have pretty good torque for their type but can be thirsty in serious off-road driving.
Diesel power is preferred by most buyers, the large four-cylinder units, XXXX 2.8 then 3.2 litres, have good torque and seem to enjoy hard work.
Pajero is offered in manual and automatic transmissions, with the latter being almost universal in later years.
Mitsubishi’s sophisticated Super Select drivetrain permits the use of all-wheel-drive under any circumstance. For example, safe traction on wet sealed roads if you opt for AWD, or lower fuel consumption on dry dirt roads if you go for 2WD. AWD can be engaged or disengaged on the fly at any speed up to 100 km/h.
The Australian Mitsubishi dealer network is long established and well-organised. Spare parts are generally available for all but the oldest models. Prices can be relatively high as 4WD bits are more rugged and can come as a surprise if you’ve only owned sedans in the past.
Insurance premiums are about average for this class and there doesn’t seem to be much difference of opinion on the insurance risk amongst the major insurance companies.
Note that the Pajero Sport launched at the end of 2015 is actually a replacement for the outgoing Challenger, not an additional version of the standard Pajero range.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
If you suspect a Pajero has been used off-road look for damage to door sills, door surfaces and bumper corners. Be very wary if the protection plates have been pushed up onto the mechanical items move them.
Check out the interior carefully because carting bored kids about can be tough on any vehicle. Damage to the cargo area is another sign of hard use.
Poor engine maintenance is hard on turbos and can lead to complete failure if the oil hasn’t been changed on time. Check the service book.
Look for diesel smoke at the exhaust during your road test. Also listen for noisy engines as timing chains are known to have problems at times.
Look at the condition of the oil on the dipstick. If it’s too dark call a professional.
Be sure all gears in a manual box engage easily and that the clutch is light and quiet in its action.
Automatic transmissions should go into Drive and Reverse promptly and easily.
Listen for, and feel for, noises and roughness in the complete driveline. Ideally this should be carried out not just on-road but in off-road conditions. The latter doesn’t have to be in serious low-range territory – but if the seller agrees it can be done.
Make sure the brakes pull the Pajero up evenly, even on dirt.
CAR BUYING TIP
Engine troubles can be expensive, unless you’re comfortable in your mechanical knowledge, or that of a friend, don’t skimp on getting a full inspection carried out.
Expect to pay from $4000 to $7000 for a 2006 Mitsubishi Pajero GLX; $8000 to $12,000 for a 2007 Exceed; $11,000 to $16,000 for a 2009 Exceed; $14,000 to $20,000 for a 2011 VR-X; $17,000 to $24,000 for a 2013 GLX-R; $20,000 to $27,000 for a 2013 Exceed; $23,000 to $31,000 for a 2016 GLX; $29,000 to $40,000 for a 2018 GLX; and $38,000 to $49,000 for a 2018 Exceed.
RECALLS: To browse recalls on all vehicles go to the ACCC at: www.productsafety.gov.au/products/transport/cars/