Pajero is a long-standing model in the Mitsubishi line-up, and while that means it doesn’t have some of the latest electronic technologies, it has lost none of the underlying ruggedness and durability that’s kept it among the leaders in the class.
Mitsubishi markets Pajero in three equipment grades, GLX, GLS and Exceed, priced from $53,990 to $65,990 plus on-road costs. Each model is a seven-seater and all are powered by a 3.2-litre four-cylinder intercooled common-rail turbo-diesel engine matched with a five-speed automatic transmission. Pajero retains the separate gear lever to shift the drive between 2WD, 4WD and low-range 4WD which incorporates a centre diff lock. Our test vehicle, a GLS, also features a rear diff lock, and drivers can shift the manual lever between 2WD and high-range 4WD on the move at up to 100km/h.
Ford introduced the Everest at the end of 2015, essentially turning the rugged design principles of the Ranger utility into a family wagon. Yet, while the principal design is similar, Everest targets a different market; it’s more refined and it employs many different chassis and suspension features.
There are three four-wheel-drive Everest models – Ambiente, Trend and Titanium – along with a recently introduced rear-wheel-drive Trend. 4WD prices start at $54,990 plus on-road costs, with the top model listed from $76,705.
All Everests are powered by a 3.2-litre five-cylinder intercooled common-rail turbo-diesel engine and with a six-speed automatic. Everest is principally a seven-seater. An entry-level five-seater RWD was added in April 2017.
Everest employs constant 4WD with an electronically selectable terrain management system, which allows the driver to dial up one of four road/off-road settings.
Both vehicles deliver strong performance from their respective 3.2-litre diesel engines, and while each copes well in all situations, Everest has a modest but clearly discernible advantage. More torque produced slightly lower in the rev range and a six-speed automatic against the Pajero’s five means that Everest feels sharper and livelier in its acceleration and pickup response.
Everest also delivers a clear advantage in overall fuel economy, despite Pajero’s ability to manually select 2WD. On average our 4WD Everest Trend used 1.0L/100km less than Pajero regardless of the driving conditions, and Pajero needed its larger fuel tank capacity to achieve the same touring range.
In showroom specification there’s little to separate these vehicles’ off-road capabilities, Pajero gaining 10mm in ground clearance against Everest’s 100mm substantially deeper fording depth. Beyond that, the two are identically matched in maximum towing capacity and roof rack load, as well as tyre size, including a full-size alloy spare wheel.
Pajero’s traditional 4WD selection lever may be viewed as more simple and robust in extreme off-road conditions, however Everest’s constant 4WD and electronic range selection also enables features such as hill descent control and trailer sway control to be employed. Everest also has standard lane-keeping assistance, front parking sensors, driver fatigue alert, adaptive headlights and a 230-volt power inverter. The older Pajero leans towards easy-to-install upgrades such as electrically adjusted and heated front seats. Cabin presentation and practicality are, however, where Pajero is starting to show its age.
In overall cabin space, Pajero remains competitive despite Everest having a 70mm longer wheelbase. More headroom, cabin width and a larger rear-door opening appear to suggest better accommodation in Pajero, but dated design features hand the cabin comfort and liveability accolades to Everest.
From the awkward and impractical side-hinged rear door which also carries the spare wheel, to the poorly thought-out rear seat assembly and childseat anchorage points which are mounted on the floor, Pajero is a frustrating seven-seater. The second seat row tip-folds, which significantly limits potential load space, it doesn’t offer travel adjustment to aid leg space and these seats lack contour and support. Up front, a traditionally high seating position ensures good all-round vision but there’s a distinct feeling of sitting on the seats rather than in them, and the dash just looks dated.