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Mitsubishi Pajero Sport Exceed 2016 review

EXPERT RATING
7.6
Tim Robson puts the Pajero Sport Exceed through its paces in the South Australian outback.

Tim Robson  puts the Pajero Sport Exceed through its paces in the South Australian outback.

The 4x4 wagon idea is nothing new, especially to Mitsubishi, who brought out its Triton ute-based Challenger back in 2000, but discontinued it in 2006 – only to bring it back again in 2009.

While it’s always shared drivelines with its ute-bodied brethren, the Challenger was always the softer, more conservative of the two, with a coil-sprung rear end, a healthy towing capacity and very inoffensive styling attracting a an older sub-set of users keen to put the well-priced Challenger in front of a van or boat.

Reborn as the Pajero Sport in 2015 – in deference to Mitsubishi’s worldwide naming nomenclature – it gained the chassis and drivetrain from the all-new Triton, but added a bit of spice in key areas.

Polarising. Challenging. Interesting. Pick your adjective, because the Pajero Sport is all of them and more.

Seeing as how it’s a genuine 4x4 off-roader, we thought we’d go and get it properly dirty for a couple of days in the South Australian outback to see how it stacks up.

Mitsubishi Pajero Sport 2016: Exceed (4x4) 7 Seat
Safety rating
Engine Type2.4L turbo
Fuel TypeDiesel
Fuel Efficiency8L/100km
Seating7 seats
Price from$33,333

Is there anything interesting about its design?   7/10

Polarising. Challenging. Interesting. Pick your adjective, because the Pajero Sport is all of them and more.

While none of the current crop of 4x4 wagons, including the Toyota Fortuner, the larger Ford Everest and the Isuzu M-UX, can be labeled as classic beauties, the Pajero Sport really ramps up the ‘interesting’ angle.

A gaping grille and large slashes of chrome trim on the nose frame the bulbous front guards and clamshell bonnet, while the side profile echoes the window line of the Triton ute. 

The rear end is possibly the most outlandish on sale today, across any vehicle in any category. Huge pumped rear guards, taillights that ‘drip’ down three-quarters of the Pajero Sport’s rear end, as well as a treatment that appears like it has no bumper at all, will absolutely raise eyebrows in the street.

  • 2016 Mitsubishi Pajero Sport Exceed in the South Australian Outback. Image credit: Dean McCartney. 2016 Mitsubishi Pajero Sport Exceed in the South Australian Outback. Image credit: Dean McCartney.
  • 2016 Mitsubishi Pajero Sport Exceed in the South Australian Outback. Image credit: Tim Robson. 2016 Mitsubishi Pajero Sport Exceed in the South Australian Outback. Image credit: Tim Robson.
  • 2016 Mitsubishi Pajero Sport Exceed in the South Australian Outback. Image credit: Dean McCartney. 2016 Mitsubishi Pajero Sport Exceed in the South Australian Outback. Image credit: Dean McCartney.
  • 2016 Mitsubishi Pajero Sport Exceed in the South Australian Outback. Image credit: Tim Robson. 2016 Mitsubishi Pajero Sport Exceed in the South Australian Outback. Image credit: Tim Robson.
  • 2016 Mitsubishi Pajero Sport Exceed. 2016 Mitsubishi Pajero Sport Exceed.
  • 2016 Mitsubishi Pajero Sport Exceed seven seater. 2016 Mitsubishi Pajero Sport Exceed seven seater.
  • 2016 Mitsubishi Pajero Sport Exceed seven seater. 2016 Mitsubishi Pajero Sport Exceed seven seater.
  • 2016 Mitsubishi Pajero Sport Exceed in the South Australian Outback. Image credit: Dean McCartney. 2016 Mitsubishi Pajero Sport Exceed in the South Australian Outback. Image credit: Dean McCartney.
  • 2016 Mitsubishi Pajero Sport Exceed in the South Australian Outback. Image credit: Dean McCartney. 2016 Mitsubishi Pajero Sport Exceed in the South Australian Outback. Image credit: Dean McCartney.

The front end is largely inoffensive and translates well on the road, but that back end… it takes some getting used to. The soft, organic shape of the taillights do it no favours when contrasted with the almost cartoon-esque bulge of the wheel arches, and there is far too much chrome brightwork going on around the car.

Still, you don’t have to look at it when you’re driving it…

How practical is the space inside?   8/10

The Pajero Sport’s off-road chops were tested over a day-long stint around the Skytrek 4x4 Park in Willow Springs in South Australia’s Flinders Ranges, as well as some rough gravel road work.

As a practical tourer, the Pajero Sport is a good companion. Our top-spec Exceed tester misses out on very little, and its basic kit is very serviceable.

It’s now available as a seven-seater in two of the three grades, with the base GLX missing out. However, you can no longer buy either the mid-spec GLS or the top spec Exceed without the third row of seats, which might disappoint those perspective customers who will never need those two small seats in the rear of the car.

Those two seats also eat into cargo room, although they do fold flat into the floor. More than 140mm is lost in the overall length of the cargo area over the five-seater and almost 30mm in height. The 60/40 split/fold second row also tumbles forward out of the way to aid ingress or to add load space.

A pair of cupholders in the centre row armrest complements a pair of cup holders in the front, and there are two more for the third row. Four bottle holders hide in the door pockets.

Its seats are comfortable, broad and supportive throughout, though the driver’s seat could have gone a little lower on its rails. It’s good to see a steering wheel on a 4x4 that telescopes and raises/lowers.

You’ll also find ISOFIX child seat mounts on the middle-row seats as well.

A deep centre console bin is very useful, and also hides the USB ports. Apple CarPlay makes phone connection and media streaming an absolute picnic, as well; Android Auto is also installed, but it’s nowhere near as polished as the Apple product.

Marks off, too, for a relatively flimsy sun visor arrangement that does little to shade the side window when needed.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   8/10

The Pajero Sport Exceed tops the order and starts at $52,750 before on-road costs.

An electronic park brake, 18-inch rims, reversing camera, a four-mode Off-road Terrain Control System, keyless entry and powered side mirrors are all standard for the Pajero Sport, as well as dual-zone climate control, a semi-leather interior, a rear locking diff and automatic headlights and wipers.

The top-spec Exceed also scores blind-spot monitors, heated front seats and a 360-degree camera, along with automatic emergency braking and a mis-acceleration mitigation system that detects and stops unintended acceleration events.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   8/10

The Pajero Sport uses Mitsubishi’s latest 2.4-litre turbo diesel that makes 133kW and 430Nm, and it’s backed by an eight-speed automatic transmission that’s connected to an all-wheel-drive system. No manual option is offered.

Mitsibishi’s well-regarded Super Select II 4x4 system is fitted, with a centre diff and rear locking diff standard.

The Pajero Sport also eschews the leaf-spring arrangement of the donor Triton, using a three-link coil-sprung rear and double wishbone front suspension which prioritises comfort over load capacity.

Speaking of loads, the Pajero Sport can tow up to 3100kg of braked trailer behind it.

How much fuel does it consume?   7/10

Mitsubishi claims a fuel consumption figure of 8.0L/100km on the combined fuel economy cycle; over two days of highway and off-road driving (which required the use of very low  gears)  we saw a dash-indicated fuel economy figure of 9.6L/100km.

What's it like to drive?   7/10

The Pajero Sport is very well set up for the rigours of medium to difficult 4x4 work, with plenty of room under the front and rear bumpers for traversing through steep washouts and creek beds, and plenty of ground clearance to make it over obstacles on the trail.

The Pajero Sport is a very accomplished medium-to-heavy duty off-roader thanks to its electronics and good basic chassis balance.

Using the drive selector dial in conjunction with the drive mode switch is easy, and the system fired up quickly even at low speeds. Combining low range with the manual override of the eight-speed gearbox gives the Pajero Sport a lot of control even on loose and rock inclines.

A cruise control-linked hill descent system then assisted on the way back down.

The suspension tune is soft and pliable, with a vague, non-centring steering feel and a sense of laziness about the chassis on the highway, though its silence is deeply impressive.

The same soft tune helps a lot off sealed surfaces, though. The Pajero Sport is a very accomplished medium-to-heavy duty off-roader thanks to its electronics and good basic chassis balance.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

5 years / 100,000 km warranty

ANCAP Safety Rating

ANCAP logo

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   8/10

The Pajero Sport scores a maximum of five stars from ANCAP, thanks to seven airbags, and high levels of active and passive safety.

The range-topping Exceed gets the lot, including AEB, trailer away detection, rear cross traffic alert and more.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   8/10

Mitsubishi offers a three-year, unlimited kilometre warranty on the Pajero Sport, and also has a capped price service plan in place for the car.

It covers the first four years of service. The first service at 15,000km or 12 months is $350, with the 30,000, 45,000 and 60,000km services jumping to $580 apiece. The services exclude ‘wear and tear’ items as well as fluids.

Verdict

The Pajero Sport certainly looks… unusual, but there’s no doubt about its comfortable, practical and quiet performance on and off road.

Not everyone wants or needs seven seats, and the 2.4-litre turbodiesel can be caught off the boil even with the eight-speed auto, but the Pajero Sport is a well executed wagon with a certain charm and flair that belies its cartoonish visage.

Could the Pajero Sport be your ugly off-road duckling? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Click here to see more 2016 Pajero Sport Exceed pricing and spec info.

Pricing Guides

$34,998
Based on 164 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$28,488
Highest Price
$40,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
Exceed (4x4) 2.4L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO $29,999 – 39,990 2016 Mitsubishi Pajero Sport 2016 Exceed (4x4) Pricing and Specs
Exceed (4x4) 7 Seat 2.4L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO $33,333 – 40,990 2016 Mitsubishi Pajero Sport 2016 Exceed (4x4) 7 Seat Pricing and Specs
GLS (4x4) 2.4L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO $28,488 – 37,990 2016 Mitsubishi Pajero Sport 2016 GLS (4x4) Pricing and Specs
GLS (4x4) 7 Seat 2.4L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO $32,888 – 38,990 2016 Mitsubishi Pajero Sport 2016 GLS (4x4) 7 Seat Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7.6
Design7
Practicality8
Price and features8
Engine & trans8
Fuel consumption7
Driving7
Safety8
Ownership8
Tim Robson
Contributing Journalist

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