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Mitsubishi Pajero Di-D tow test

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    This engine was a delight to drive with and handled the 2000kg Jayco caravan with ease. Photo Gallery

Great diesel engine, great auto gearbox, but does the package live up to its increased max tow capacity.

Boy was I having a good chuckle as I made my way out of Sydney with the NT diesel Pajero hooked up to an 18 and a half-foot Jayco caravan. Our team of testers voted the newly released NT as ‘first place’ in our very own 4WD Of The Year 2009, plus it’s scored a swag of other medals and ‘first in class’ awards.

The upgraded tow capacity of 3000kg should (on paper) make it a serious contender for caravan and camper trailer towing duties, but unfortunately, we hadn’t had the chance to hook anything of any substance to the Mitsubishi tow bar – until now!

It made short work of keeping up in peak hour traffic with effortless accelerating and braking manoeuvres that far exceed what a ‘small’ displacement diesel would have been able to do in the not-too-distant past.

Yes, it did suffer a little turbo lag and automatic transmission delay as the right foot was pressed on the green traffic light signal with the early morning rush hour maniacs.

That aside, the auto’s fully automatic mode combined with tiptronic style manual changes made driving easy. Coming into tight corners out on the open road or red lights in the traffic, a quick flick to the left combined with one, two or three manual down changes enabled the engine/gearbox braking to take some load off the foot brakes.

With 147kW and 441Nm, the 3.2-litre intercooled turbo diesel had oodles of power to maintain not only all freeway driving, but also the hilly, undulating back roads that often required constant braking into corners followed by accelerating to the next.

This engine was a delight to drive with and handled the 2000kg Jayco caravan with ease.

The only ungainly experience was on the aforementioned back roads at speed, part way around a corner, with irregular bitumen surfaces forcing sideways movement onto the back end of the Pajero’s independent multi link coil spring suspension.

Again, it’s a bit of nit-picking and it was only evident on the more uneven patches and nothing too untoward for those familiar with towing larger caravans.

Late braking into fast corners (as well as back in that terrible traffic light chaos) saw the Pajero’s four wheel ventilated disc brakes handle the caravan easily – with of course the electronic brakes as fitted to the van. Long downhill descents never saw the Pajero’s brakes fouling the pristine air with burnt brake pad fumes.

Many people have claimed how quiet this latest model diesel Pajero is compared to the previous. Yes, it’s much quieter, but still lets out a good old engine roar on down changes as the tacho needle points towards the higher end of the scale. Some other Japanese vehicles are still much quieter than the Pajero and prove to be a more pleasant space for intimate conversations.

The standard Pajero seats provided exceptional comfort for one very long days driving, even without lumbar adjustment! At the end of 500km, jumping in and out for photos my back and derriere were in very good condition.

Standard side rear view mirrors are excellent in size and shape to see most of what is happening to the rear with a van in tow, although extended mirrors would be of benefit.

Our group of testers made the right choice again this year, although increased cabin sound deadening should be on the cards for future versions. Other than that, the 3.2 litre Di-D Pajero should be a real winner with Overlanders who haul camper trailers, caravans, horse floats or any sort of heavy load.

For the full version of this test, plus everything you need to know about 4WDs, get your copy of the new look Overlander magazine.


Comments on this story

Displaying 3 of 14 comments

  • I have a 2007-7 seater Pajero.  It was 10mths old when I bought it. It now has 140,000klms on the clock. It came with factory fitted sports and extra safety pack also gps, uhf, add. electrical brakes for van, hayman reese t/pack and loads of other beauties.  I added a 60litr fuel tank, steel bull bar, driving lights, turbo timer and isolator, I have always serviced the vehicle.  I have towed vans from 17ft to 25ft with “Le Tank 2nd” (her nickname) and never had a problem.  I bought extension mirrors, but not used. She has handled rough surfaces, hill climbs, sandy/muddy/wet conditions etc with ease. I have now fitted Coopers tyres.  Drive sensibly and you are rewarded.  I agree there can be a lag if you try to take off too fast at the lights.  If you want a vehicle that is reliable, comfortable, safe, great for towing, good fuel economy the Mitsubishi Pajero is the one to buy.  Unfortunately, I am now going to sell my beauty as I my travelling has stopped for now and the vehicle far exceeds my needs as I only have myself and my little dog.  I am going to cry when she goes.  Elmo and I will miss you Le Tank.  I will be looking to buy a smaller Mitsubishi vehicle.

    Diana Roper of Australia Posted on 27 February 2014 11:07pm
  • My 2004 Pajero tows heaver loads up and down hill better than later model landcruisers and for a fraction of the fuel. It has now gone 300,000 ks and not a rattle, Had the rear modified for heaver loads and handles 3 tonne with ease. 3 axle horse float is the standard trailer filled with bales of hay. Love that car!! Great fuel economy.

    Gazmo Posted on 29 July 2013 11:27am
  • Our 2002 NM Pajero has done over 220,000kms and has just completed a 17,000km trip up north and around WA. It performed beautifully, towing a full van in excess of 2 tonnes and averaged 13.5 litres per 100ks. We would certainly buy another later model one if we could afford it.

    Tony Eichner of Sheidow Park South Aust Posted on 14 November 2011 8:12pm
  • NT Pajero DiD with rear air bags for support. Towed a 3000KG roadster to QLD and back to WA. Had only one problem which was opening the rear door when hitched up during free camp sites. Got back to WA and changed the caravan hitch to the new AL-KO off road hitch with a MC Hitch hand brake assembly. Can now tow and open the rear door to get to the chairs and Engel. Pajero handled the whole trip with ease, even up the steep road to the Atherton Tablelands.

    Great_Apple_Turnover_Tour_of_Aus of Perth WA Posted on 13 November 2011 2:10pm
  • Ptiy the new Pajero has towing capacity of 3000kg but the ball weight is only 180kg - our 05 Pajero Mitsubishi Pajero is 2500kg with a ball weight of 250 and we need to upgrade but the new deisel Pajero won’t do the job.

    Ray of Sydney Posted on 07 June 2011 1:13pm
  • I recently approached a local Mitsubishi dealer with the intent of placing an order for a new Diesel Pajero and having heard that fitting a Bull bar & winch may void my warranty asked them the question and now am awaiting an official response? Can anyone enlighten me ?

    Peter of Brisbane Posted on 07 December 2010 10:41pm
  • Owned NS 25th anniversary then recently traded in for NT VRX.  Awesome car.  I don’t know very many Pajero owners that aren’t happy.  On and off road, they are a great car and will not give you any trouble.  Great warranty (prob best on the market) and Mits has prob the best after market service of the other obvious competitors.

    Pajero Man Posted on 11 November 2010 2:52pm
  • We have an np ‘04 gls 3.2 did and have done 8Lp100km with air con on and on cruise control. They sway easily in the rear with heavy loads on. I have an 18 foot plate boat, and it is a bit hairy at times.

    colin of brisbane Posted on 24 October 2010 9:47am
  • Have just purchased a new VRX Pajero after having the NP for 5 years have been very happy with NP with 3.2 litre auto 21st annerv model. The NP has OME suspension system from ARB as I find the standard Paj suspension not up to heavy towing especialy with 2 horse float and ball weight about 250kg the head lights were in the tress with standard but with OME set up it sits very level. The first thing I have done with my new Paj is take it straight to ARB and have the suspension changed, its a totaly differant vehicle excellent for towing no body roll and handles the rough stuff much better also clearance increases by about 40mm. ARB also fitted dual battery system a must if towing a camper etc or running a portable fridge in the back. I have changed the towbar tounge to bring it out past the spare wheel…that is the one thing i am very disapointed about that Mitsubishi changed the spare tyre has made it very difficult to tow with a short tounge, the NP was much better with off set spare. I have only traveled 1500ks with NT so far but have it ready to go and looking forward to doing some tow miles.

    Shane Griffin of Pakenham Posted on 24 September 2010 3:14pm
  • Ball weight on van is 200kg when van loaded. This also checked at weighbridge. When hooked up without Hayman Reece Level ride this causes rear of vehicle to drop 10 millimetres which is easily corrected with Hayman Reece. The front only rises about 4 millimetres. These measurements taken over wheel arch centre of wheel.

    Cec Patch of Ballina NSW Posted on 03 March 2010 4:22pm
  • Towed a 2185 kg weighbridge weight loaded Olympic van from Tamworth to Ballina via Glen Innes Grafton- 498 kilometres and used 73 litres of fuel. 3.2 litre diesel Exceed. Handles van exceptionally well. The Exceed will meet all comfort requirements - headlights best yet over 58 years motoring and numerous vehicles. After 3 months and 5000k no complaints with vehicle. Does everything expected and then some. Terrific sound system in Exceed. Only complaint is very poor detail on GPS - no schools, no stop signs, no speed limits or cameras. Reminds me of very first tom tom about six years ago. Updates very expensive. With spare wheel cover fitted tow ball connection almost touches cover, not possible to open rear door when van connected.

    Cec Patch of Ballina Posted on 10 February 2010 11:57am
  • Very informative review.  Am glad to hear you tested in all driving conditions.  I am considering the purchase of this vehicle and find your reviews excellent.

    Ty Morsink of Churchill, Victoria Posted on 21 January 2010 8:29am
  • Would it be possible to put the ball weight in your reveiws on the 4x4s as it is very relivant to the tow vehicle when towing a van. my van is nearly 190kg. Towing capacity and ball weight are two different catagorys Thanks Colin

    Colin Harvey of SA Posted on 09 January 2010 5:59pm
  • fuel economy?

    William Harris of canberra Posted on 20 October 2009 5:51pm
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