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Mitsubishi Pajero Sport Exceed 2019 review


There are definite advantages to owning a Mitsubishi Pajero Sport. Even if you’ve never thought about going off-road and you’re not really a camping kind of person, a few weeks driving this car will have you planning road trips through rivers and along rocky coastlines and sandy beaches. Or at least, you can dream about it, even if those trips never eventuate. 

It’s a large SUV (though not as large as big sister, the Pajero, but still big), that comes with five or seven seats. I drove the Pajero Sport Exceed which is the top of the range and is equipped with all seven seats. 

The Pajero Sport competes with cars like the Nissan Pathfinders, Toyota Fortuners and Ford Everests of the world. Here’s how it did with my family over a whole week of summer holiday fun. 

What does it look like?

The Pajero Sport lives up to its name, and is much sportier and far less rugged than the actual Pajero. Curved lines on the corners and a rear spoiler that comes standard with the Exceed model help it look like it’s about to take off. While it’s difficult to get large car designs right, the exterior of the Pajero Sport is still quite stylish, and they’ve managed to mesh tough plus slick to make a cool looking car.

  • The exterior of the Pajero Sport is quite stylish. (image credit: Dean McCartney) The exterior of the Pajero Sport is quite stylish. (image credit: Dean McCartney)
  • The Pajero Sport looks much sportier and far less rugged than the actual Pajero. (image credit: Dean McCartney) The Pajero Sport looks much sportier and far less rugged than the actual Pajero. (image credit: Dean McCartney)

Inside the car is neither flashy nor fancy - it sticks to its Pajero roots and delivers an interior that favours function over form with simple features that traditional Pajero buyers will appreciate, while still maintaining a refined look and feel. 

The Pajero Sport Exceed comes with leather seats and a leather steering wheel that both lift the interior design, and it doesn’t feel like an empty cabin in here. But it’s not so sophisticated that you feel like you might ruin things by climbing in with wet boots fresh from a day in the outdoors. Everything is built with durability in mind.

Inside, the Pajero Sport Exceed comes with leather seats and a leather steering wheel. Inside, the Pajero Sport Exceed comes with leather seats and a leather steering wheel.

 

How does it drive?

It drives pretty well for a car this size. You definitely do feel large on the road but it doesn't feel enormous in the way some of the competition can. It does have a bit of pull on the steering wheel and it can feel heavy at times, but overall feels good to drive.  

The 2.4-litre turbo-diesel engine is quite loud, but it helps you zoom up hills and makes it easy to overtake other cars. It’s not lightening quick off the mark but once it gets going you won’t have any issues with speed. 

Lots of people buy a Pajero Sport because they know they’ll be spending a fair bit of time off-road, it’s a proper 4WD, so you’ll get a lot of use out of it if that is your purpose. I didn’t travel anywhere these school holidays so stuck to my usual route along suburban Sydney beaches. But being so high up and in a car that was capable of going off-road, certainly made me think differently about where we could possibly go next school holidays, and that is the beauty of a proper 4WD - the daydreaming. 

Parking is fairly standard for a car this size, the steering can be tough and will get you if you’re doing lots of three-point turns, but overall parking wasn’t super difficult because of the reverse parking camera and it also has a 360-degree camera which lets you see the view from the top of the car so you know where you are in regards to walls, the kerb and other cars around you. 

How spacious is it?

There is lots of space up front, with legroom and headroom even for the taller members in my family. The cabin feels nice and breezy and you won’t be complaining about being too close together.

My children aged five and seven had heaps of room in the back with plenty of space between feet and the seat in front of them (no kicking the back seat in this car!) and there was also enough space in the centre to pop a third child seat. I did it with two boosters and a baby capsule and it easily fit. 

  • The cabin feels nice and breezy with loads of space up front. (image credit: Dean McCartney) The cabin feels nice and breezy with loads of space up front. (image credit: Dean McCartney)
  • Children are spoiled with room in the second row. (image credit: Dean McCartney) Children are spoiled with room in the second row. (image credit: Dean McCartney)
  • Two boosters and a baby capsule will easily fit in the back. (image credit: Dean McCartney) Two boosters and a baby capsule will easily fit in the back. (image credit: Dean McCartney)

The third row will fit children easily, and I fit in at 161cm, but if you are taller you may be hunching for head space on longer journeys. Short journeys will be fine though, no matter how tall you are. 

If that third row is in use, the boot space is quite small. You’ll barely fit even groceries in there. School bags, yes, because you won’t mind if they fall out when you open the boot anyway but you don’t want groceries falling everywhere. If you’re going away though, the Pajero Sport comes with built in roof racks, so all your luggage will be up there anyway. 

With the third row down, the boot grows to 673L and you can fit a pram in, groceries, sporting equipment - whatever you need.

Boot space is rated at 673 litres with the third row down. (image credit: Dean McCartney) Boot space is rated at 673 litres with the third row down. (image credit: Dean McCartney)

How easy is it to use every day?

Remarkably, the second row flips up right off the floor, allowing you or the kids to climb into the third row easily. You have to pop the seats of the third row in place but it’s no great stress, and getting it all back into place is not hard work either. Tick. The boot is a tad high off the ground for me, so watch your back if you’re lifting heavy equipment in.

The third row needs to be popped into place. (image credit: Dean McCartney) The third row needs to be popped into place. (image credit: Dean McCartney)

There are six cupholders in total, two in each row. The centre storage bin is not as large as you’d imagine and there’s no spot in the front for keys or a phone either, which I always find a little odd. Each door has small storage and a bottle holder and there are pockets on the back of the front seats. 

There are air vents in the second and third rows which is so important, especially with us having driven it over the summer holidays, I found it very necessary. 

There’s also a step to climb into the car as it’s quite high off the ground and my children definitely needed it.

For shorter people there’s a sidestep to climb into the cabin. (image credit: Dean McCartney) For shorter people there’s a sidestep to climb into the cabin. (image credit: Dean McCartney)

How safe is it?

The Pajero Sport scored a maximum five-star ANCAP ranking when it was assessed in late 2015. And being the top-of-the-range Exceed model, this one came with all bells-and-whistles included - newer safety technology like auto emergency braking, lane departure alerts, active cruise control were all part of the package. 

The Pajero Sport comes with front and side airbags for driver and front passenger and side curtain airbags that extend to the back row. ISOFIX points are found in the middle row, on the outer two seats and there are also three top tether points for children’s car seats in the middle, but none in the back row. 

What’s the tech like?

It comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which is the best technology in this price category. Plug your phone into the USB points for instant connectivity to the multimedia screen so you can make hands-free calls and listen to music, it’s just the easiest, most simple system there is because it’s familiar.

The multimedia system comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. (image credit: Dean McCartney) The multimedia system comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. (image credit: Dean McCartney)

The sound is also really good, I turned it up a few times this week and there was no distortion.

How much does it cost to own?


The Wrap

I thought the Pajero Sport was pretty good value with everything included. It’s large but doesn’t  feel as cumbersome as other large cars I’ve driven and because it has such good off-road capabilities, it has a definite sense of purpose. 

For a family doing the suburban route it performed really well, had good interior space, all the safety you’d want, was easy enough to manoeuvre and looks stylish as well. 

I gave it a family rating of 7.5 out of 10. My children also gave it a 7.5, they loved using the step to climb in and jump out of. 

Likes

Exterior design
Powerful engine
4WD capabilities

Dislikes

High load lip
Steering can feel heavy
Tight boot with third-row seat up

Scores

Nedahl:

3.8

The Kids:

3.8

$54,490

Based on new car retail price

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