The change is refreshing when it comes to getting into something with drive to all four wheels that can actually use it. The new Mitsubishi Challenger has been a while coming back to the market but it has been worth the wait.
With plenty of the good bits from its LCV Triton cousin, the Challenger turbodiesel - in this case an LS five-seater - sounds a little trucky when first started, but it's not thrashy or too rough from within.
Explore the 2010 Mitsubishi Challenger Range
Pricing and equipment
The $44,490 base-model five-seat LS (the auto starts from $46,990) sits on 17in alloy wheels, including a spare to match, has side steps, climate control, wheel-mounted cruise and sound system controls, power windows, remote keyless entry and central locking, a six-speaker CD sound system, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear shifter and cloth trim.
The centre display shows the current radio station but also has a compass, trip computer, exterior temperature display, altimeter and even a barometer, although the last two are a bit naff - unless you're planning on drawing topographical maps or doing your own weather forecasting.
There's dual front, side and curtain airbags, stability control and anti-lock brakes, so the equipment list is decent.
But the best bits on the features list are what the company calls Super Select 4WD and the rear diff lock, the latter being standard fare. The wagon can be run in 2WD or 4WD with the centre diff unlocked - the rear-wheel drive mode will give a slight reduction in fuel consumption but means you have to be a lot more judicious with the right foot, as 400Nm of torque can set the rear wheels talking.
Drivetrain and economy
Run in 4WD mode, with plenty of city and country running, with some dirt work, the fuel consumption from the 131kW/400Nm 2.5-litre turbodiesel four-cylinder was still returning around 10 litres per 100km, despite hauling two tonnes around.
Throwing the Challenger at unsealed surfaces didn't cause any concern at all, with the 4WD system offering ample traction. Rougher dirt showed the ladder-frame chassis still feels a little rubbery but the ride quality is good, the payoff being that it rolls around a little bit and the steering needs plenty of twirling in tight stuff.
Locking the centre diff, employing the rear diff lock and getting into bumpier stuff doesn't deter the Challenger either, with more than enough gumption to get way off the beaten track, even on road-biased rubber.
Complaints with the Challenger - the powerplant needs a solid prod of the throttle and 2000rpm on board before it hits its straps. The 70-litre fuel tank is a little on the small side for a serious off-roader - even if it was running at 8.3l/100km it's range is well under 900km, which is below par for the category - the new Prado's tanks carry 150 litres.
Rear vision is a little restricted, which would make parking sensors a must - a desire not unique to this model, but a safety feature that would be a good addition to all SUVs and wagons.
If you have any desire get the wheels dirty on your family wagon, the new Challenger is priced competitively and will go much deeper into the scrub than most of the medium SUV offerings.