Mitsubishi launched its Challenger in Australia in 1996. It was a seriously tough vehicle,
virtually a Triton pickup with a wagon body that was very good off-road, though often on
the harsh side in daily road driving. It became smoother as gradual changes were made.
The all-new Challenger of 2009, while still based on the pickup, is more sophisticated and
modified to suit family SUV buyers.
Testing and tuning of the Challenger was done by Mitsubishi in Australia to suit our local
driving conditions as well as the preferences of Australian drivers.
Challenger is often chosen by those who have got the budget for a Mitsubishi Pajero of the
same age. It’s perhaps not quite as swish as its bigger brother, but isn’t as far behind from
the 2009 onwards model as in previous generations.
The 2009 Challenger is a five-seater with the option of seven seats. There’s good head
and legroom in the front and middle row seats but, as is pretty well the norm, the rearmost
seats are better suited to junior travellers.
Luggage space is excellent in the five-seater, with plenty of length and width. Naturally,
the seven-seat models lose some cargo space in the rear, but are still reasonable. There
is plenty of in-cabin storage space. Cargo and luggage are quite easy to load despite the
load area being high off the ground.
The new generation Mitsubishi ‘Challenger’ introduced in November 2015 was given a
different name – Mitsubishi Pajero Sport, a title had been used in other countries for many
years. We won’t review it in this Challenger story, other than to say it has plenty of style
thanks to Mitsubishi’s Dynamic Shield grille, is comfortable to ride in, yet still retains good
Engines are mainly four-cylinder turbo-diesels, with a capacity of 2.5, later 2.4 litres. There
are four-cylinder 2.0-litre petrols but are generally in entry level models to entice new car
buyers to the showroom, then up-sell them to something else. The don’t have a lot of
performance and will struggle if you’ve got a full load on board.
Challenger doesn’t use the Super Select 4WD system as fitted to the Mitsubishi Pajero,
rather it has an old-style setup which normally drives the rear wheels only. The two-speed
transfer case can be shifted on-the-fly between 2H and 4H at speeds of up to 100km/h.
The front hubs are automatic.
Mitsubishi is long established in Australia, so even when you’re travel a long way into the
outback there’s a good chance you can find parts and a mechanic who knows
Spare parts availability is good and we have heard of no complaints about pricing.
Insurance is generally at the lower end of as it’s the sort of vehicle that normally sells to
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Look over the cabin and the luggage area for damage and/or bad staining, another sign
that it may have been used on off-road running.
Look under the Challenger’s body for signs of damage caused by too-hard driving in harsh
Check for salt as beach use can cause corrosion if Dad has decided to drive it through surf
to please the kids.
Make sure the engine starts easily and idles smoothly as soon as it settles into its rhythm.
It’s not the quietest diesel around, but if it seems too bad have a professional check it out.
Ideally arrange to test the engine after it is fully cold, an overnight cooling is ideal. Check
the engine doesn’t blow any exhaust smoke when accelerated hard, especially after it’s
been idling for a while. It if does it could be due for an expensive overhaul.
Expect to pay from $8000 to $12,000 for a 2010 Mitsubishi Challenger LS; $10,000 to
$16,000 for a 2011 Challenger; $13,000 to $19,000 for a 2012 XLS; $15,000 to $21,000
for a 2013 XLS 7-seater; and $17,000 to $23,000 for a 2015 LS.
CAR BUYING TIP
SUVs that live in the suburbs are less likely to have been driven hard in serious off-road
conditions in the bush.
RECALLS: To browse recalls on all vehicles go to the ACCC at: