Mitsubishi Pajero is a genuine SUV, not a passenger station wagon with a tough looking body as is increasingly the case these days.
Though it began life downunder as a body-on-chassis 4WD, it became a monocoque for improved ride and comfort in 2000.
Good engineering meant the post-2000 models retained similar strength to the chassis models.
All have a low-range case for tough, slow conditions.
We are considering Pajeros from a major refresh in late 2007 which are classed as being MY2008.
Note that the current Pajero Sport isn’t a variant of the standard Pajero that was discontinued in early 2021 but a vehicle in its own right.
We’ll look at the Sport in a future review.
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 100km/h.
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.
Mitsubishi Pajero comes with either two or four passenger doors.
The two-door wasn’t popular and has been an on/off proposition. It was revived in 2006, then disappeared due to lack of buyer interest in 2010.
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 up the Pajero can handle seven grown-ups.
Though the first Pajeros had a petrol four-cylinder engine, all petrols under review here are V6s with a 3.8-litre displacement.
These are reasonably economical for a largish 4WD, but if you have to keep an eye on your budget and do a lot of city and suburban running you may have to check a smaller vehicle.
Mitsubishi is big on SUVs and offers Outlander, Eclipse Cross and ASX — none of which have the carrying capacity of the four-door Pajero.
Diesel power is preferred by most buyers, the large four-cylinder units displace 3.2 litres, have good torque and seem to enjoy hard work.
Pajero is offered in five-speed manual and automatic transmissions also with five forward ratios. Automatics are all but universal in later years.
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 as 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 was actually a replacement for the outgoing Mitsubishi Challenger, not an additional version of the standard Pajero range.
It’s not covered in this used car review.
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.
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.
Make sure the brakes pull the Pajero up evenly, even on dirt.
Expect to spend from $6,000 to $11,000 for a 2009 Mitsubishi Pajero GLX or a 2011 GL; $10,000 to 15,000 for a 2009 GLS; $11,000 to $17,000 for a 2011 Exceed; $17,000 to $25,000 for a 2012 GLX; $19,000 to $27,000 for a 2013 VR-X; $25,000 to $33,000 for a 2016 GLS; $30,000 to $40,000 for a 2017 Exceed; and $39,000 to $51,000 for a 2019 GLS.