It's almost a given, and nothing has much has changed on that front with the new model.
The range-topping five-door Exceed has a rear diff lock to add to its traction abilities, a frugal, torquey diesel to tackle demanding driving without demanding too much from your wallet, and decent ground clearance and a short front overhang to get you over rough terrain.
Fit-out and equipment
Step inside, however, and this looks like anything but a bush-bashing rock-hopper, with its leather trim, rear DVD player, and a top-grade sound system with subwoofer. The Rockford Fosgate Acoustic 860-watt 12-speaker sound system (with wheel-mounted controls) can vibrate mirrors and internal organs better than most outback roads.
The trip computer display has all manner of information — although sometimes it's a bit convoluted getting to some of it — including a compass, altimeter, barometer, temperature, time and date.
The features list continues with auxiliary input jack, as well as a Bluetooth phone link within the ‘Mitsubishi Multi Communication System’ which also controls the sound system and satellite navigation.
There's front and rear climate control, rain sensing wipers and light-sensing headlights, dual front, side and curtain airbags, rear parking sensors and a reversing camera (although front sensors would be welcome as well) and automatic dimming rear-view mirrors.
Getting a glimpse of what's behind you in an SUV is also a good thing and the Exceed has that covered with a reversing camera, although a cover for the camera might not be a bad idea — Porsche's Cayenne and the new Golf both have worthwhile systems to put the camera out of reach from road grime until required.
Winter weather is a little easier to take with heaters in the power-adjustable leather seats — just the thing for a sore back on a cold morning.
All of which makes it sound ideal (bearing in mind the $77,000 pricetag) as a family taxi. And much of the equipment list will delight the family. There's a lot to be said for keeping the kids entertained and the Pajero flagship has it covered. Its rear DVD player — complete with little remote-control holder and infra-red headphones — brings peace to the rear seat. At least until there's a disagreement over what to watch.
The tranquility in the rear is only somewhat disturbed by one of the Exceed's other features — the engine — which, despite work on the noise insulation, still has the clatter that many of its opposition has eradicated.
The upgraded 3.2-litre V6 turbodiesel boasts an 18 per cent increase in outputs, so there's a good amount of torque on offer — 441Nm — and the common-rail direct-injection system combines with a particle filter (on the automatic variant only) to keep thirst and emissions down.
Mitsubishi says the ADR fuel use figure is 9.2 litres per 100km, 13 per cent better than its predecessor — we had nearer 11 on test which is still pretty good — and the 243g/km emissions figure puts it below much of its opposition.
The four-wheel drive system is flexible, being able to run in rear or four-wheel drive on the road. The fuel benefits may only be a few per cent when running rear only (assuming you're not indulging in circlework in a paddock) but every bit helps.
And the difference on a wet road — sealed or unsealed — when all four wheels are working is noticeable and welcome. From an active safety point of view, it's a nice feeling of security when grunty rear-drivers are spinning freely in front of you.
Price: from $76,790.
Engine: 3.2-litre common-rail direct-injection DOHC 16-valve intercooled turbodiesel with diesel particulate filter.
Transmission: five-speed automatic, four-wheel drive, with centre and rear diff lock.
Power: 147kW @ 3800rpm.
Torque: 441Nm @ 2000rpm.
Fuel consumption: 9.2litres/100km, on test 11litres/100km, tank 88litres.
Jeep Cherokee Limited, from $50,490. Land Rover Discovery HSE, from $86,590. Nissan Pathfinder Ti, from $62,240. Toyota Prado Grande, from $79,950.