Jeep Grand Cherokee VS Mitsubishi Pajero
Jeep Grand Cherokee
- Off-road ability
- Modest road feel
- Plenty of buttons
- 100,000km warranty
- Simple, proven mechanicals
- Oodles of space
- Smooth on tarmac, capable off it
- No driver aids due to age
- Third-row seats complex and tiny
- One of the oldest 4x4s on sale today
Jeep Grand Cherokee
The Jeep Grand Cherokee has always been big. But if you want to carry more than five people, not big enough. Which is where the all-new, fifth-generation model comes in.
It’s set to compete with top-spec versions of mainstream models like the Hyundai Palisade and Toyota LandCruiser Prado, as well as premium full-size family trucksters like the Land Rover Discovery and Volvo XC90.
Jeep invited us to the Grand Cherokee L’s Australian launch to get a first taste of how it measures up to local conditions.
Read more about the Jeep Grand Cherokee
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
If you're in the market for a genuinely large, rugged-duty four-wheel drive diesel wagon, your choices are rapidly diminishing... and if you're looking for one that's relatively affordable, your choices are even fewer.
But has age wearied this old battle horse? We're testing the 2018 update to see if it's still relevant in today's market.
|Engine Type||3.2L turbo|
Jeep Grand Cherokee7.5/10
Jeep’s aim with this car is to lift the Grand Cherkee to a more premium level, and that’s about brand equity and badge credibility as much as it is the vehicle itself.
The seven-seat L has stepped up in price, but also in practicality, refinement and equipment, while maintaining serious off-road ability.
Does it have what it takes to tempt people away from, say, the German Big Three? That’s a tough ask, but this Jeep certainly has more of what it takes to make that a real possibility.
For mine, the entry-level Night Eagle is the pick. Well equipped, heaps of safety and plenty of off-highway prowess.
Note: CarsGuide attended this event as a guest of the manufacturer, with travel, accommodation and meals provided.
There's no doubt that the Pajero is getting on in age, and there's no sign of Mitsubishi replacing it any time soon.
Then again, it doesn’t really need to. It sells quite well, it's really affordable, all of the bugs have been ironed out of it, and it's as tough as old boot leather.
It's not the most handsome thing on the road, and its active safety spec is behind that of more modern vehicles, but it's easy to forgive these oversights (okay, not the safety aspect so much) when it's as practical and lovable as this.
Is simple - like the Mitsubishi Pajero - the best? Or is tech the way to go?
Jeep Grand Cherokee7/10
A decade. That’s how long the previous Grand Cherokee was on sale in Australia, Which is ages, but also testament to the quality of that fourth-generation car’s design.
And there are echoes of it in this new model’s exterior. The overall proportions are similar, although the track is increased by 36mm, and the overriding impression is that key elements have been made slimmer and wider for a more contemporary look.
For example, the headlights, LED on all models, are shorter, but longer, while the signature seven-bar Jeep grille has been truncated a little and stands more upright.
Character lines along the side of the car are softer, and the rear follows the same slimline philosophy. But it’s inside where the biggest steps have been taken.
The dash layout and hardware have been transported from the relative Dark Ages to a clean and simple approach dominated by this broad centre console, topped by a sleek media screen.
The screen measures 8.4 inches in the entry-level Night Eagle, stepping up to 10.25 inches in the upper grades.
The latest, configurable, digital instrument cluster enhances the low-key tech vibe, and there’s a sensible mix of on-screen controls and physical dials and buttons. That said, there are a lot of buttons across the lower part of the centre stack and steering wheel.
The rest of the interior is a blend of simple lines and a subtle colour palette, including piano black highlights. It feels more mature and premium than the car it replaces.
Park your 2018 Pajero next to a model from the mid-naughties and from side on, you would be hard-pressed to tell the difference. Over the years, there have been superficial updates to elements like bumpers and tail-lights, but the Pajero's large boxy visage remains virtually untouched from its 2006 introduction.
It features a huge glasshouse, which makes for a very airy and bright cabin, while its box-like rear section endows the 4x4 wagon with a massive rear cargo space. It's certainly not going to win any beauty awards but that's really not the point of the Pajero.
On the inside, too, the only concession to up to date motoring is the touchscreen multimedia system. Again, there have been small cosmetic changes over the years to the Pajero's design language inside the car, but it really doesn't feel that much different to one of its 12-year-old siblings when you hop aboard.
Jeep Grand Cherokee9/10
When it comes to practicality, thoughtful, family-friendly touches include large door apertures, with the doors themselves opening right out to 64 degrees, as well a second row seat able to move fore and aft to balance passenger and/or cargo space.
Up front there are big bins in the doors with space for large bottles, a pair of decent size cupholders in the centre console, a two-tiered storage box between the seats that doubles as an armrest, and a covered wireless charging bay in front of the gearshift.
For connectivity and power there are two USB-A and two USB-C ports, as well as an ‘aux in’ socket, and a 12-volt outlet.
Jump into the second row, and sitting behind the driver’s seat set for my 183cm position, I enjoyed heaps of headroom and hectares of legroom, remembering it’s possible to slide the middle seat forward to give third row passenger more room, or increase load space.
Again, there are generous pockets in the doors with space for large bottles, map pockets on the front seatbacks, a fold-down centre armrest containing two cupholders, and rear seaters have their own ventilation control.
The dual USB-A and USB-C ports are repeated in the back, and there’s a 230-volt AC socket for three-pin plugs.
Access to the third row is helped by a roll and fold function in the second row, and once back there space is generous and the amenities are civilised.
I could sit bolt upright without any head clearance issues, and legroom is good. There are bottle holders on each side, adjustable ventilation in the C-pillars, small storage pockets, and yet more USB outlets.
And how’s this for a parent’s dream? ‘Fam Cam’ (optional on the Limited and standard on the Summit Reserve) is an adjustable rear seat monitoring camera able to switch between all second and third row positions. No more craning around and taking your eyes off the road to check what’s going on back there.
Even with all seven seats upright, boot space is 487 litres. Fold the 50/50 split third row and that grows to 1328L, and with the second (40/20/40 split) and third rows down you’ve got 2395L, enough room to start a boutique furniture moving business.
The loading height is user friendly, there are multiple tie-down hooks and a 12V outlet, there’s no lip to get over the top of, and a power tailgate, standard on all grades and hands-free on the Summit Reserve, is always welcome.
The Grand Cherokee L is rated to tow a braked trailer up to 2.8 tonnes, although that’s reduced to 2.3 tonnes in the Summit Reserve, partly due to the standard air suspension. And off-roaders rejoice, the spare is a full-size (18-inch) steel rim.
The Pajero is sold as a seven-seater and the rear two seats are tucked underneath the boot floor. There is also a 60/40-split fold second row, which can be tumbled forward to make a larger space as well as provide access to those two rear seats.
The third row really is the definition of a jump seat; it’s a narrow bench with short seat backs that are extended by comically oversized head rests, which need to be detached to stow the rear seat under the floor.
In fact, it is quite a complicated system to erect the seats in any sort of hurry and the parts are quite weighty, as well. People of a smaller stature will struggle a bit to configure those rear seats in any sort of hurry.
The same criticism can be levelled at the second-row seats, which basically need two separate movements to revert from tumbled to assembled. In their favour, they do offer a reclining back, which adds to rear seat comfort, and there is absolutely no shortage of headroom or kneeroom for even the tallest passengers.
There are ISOFIX mounts on the second-row outside seats, as well as a pull-down centre arm rest that hides two cupholders. Unusually in a relatively modern car, there are no door cards of any description in the rear doors, which means bottles can't be stowed there.
While the front doors have narrow short pockets, they are not equipped to hold any sort of bottles, either. The only way that you'll hold the drink is via the two cupholders that sit side by side in between the two front seats.
The big Paj is unashamedly aimed at people who like to treat their cars hard and put them away wet, and there is a lot of hard plastics here that will resist the rough and tumble of an outback life but may detract from the Paj’s ambience for suburb dwellers.
Overall, though, the Pajero is incredibly easy to operate and live with. There is an absolute lack of unnecessary bells and whistles and it features just what you need to drive up and over any obstacle in your path.
Visibility around the car is excellent in all directions, though the tall bonnet may make it awkward for some drivers to park the car. There are sensors and a reversing camera for parking, which does make life easy, although there are no line markings on the display to help you line up a trailer.
Our tester is carpeted, and one can easily see large rubber mats placed on the floor for a little bit more off-road resistance.
Internal cargo space rivals that of a panel van, with a low floor, high roof and large door aperture making the 1069 litres (VDA) of space with the second row in place (or 1798L with all rows folded) a doddle to access. The right side-hinged one-piece swinging door won’t suit everyone, though, and we weren’t able to access the rear of the Paj when our trailer was in place.
The spare wheel is mounted to the rear door, which isn't always the easiest thing to access, either, particularly for smaller adults. As well, you'll have to get under the floor to retrieve the jack and the wheel brace, as they are located in with the third-row seat.
There are luggage tie-downs in the cargo area while vents are situated in the roof throughout the car and the third-row passengers also get their own cupholders. Second-rowers miss out on any sort of power points but they do have access to ventilation controls.
And a big tick for the extendable sections within the Pajero sunvisors - such a rarity these days! It’s like no-one commutes north or south any more in car design land...
There's no digital speedo, sadly; in fact, there's not much digital stuff going on at all other than an ageing, but still useful, digital fuel and information gauge on top of the centre console.
The Bluetooth-ready head unit is similar to those found in other Mitsubishi products and features Apple Car Play and Android Auto. It's reasonably simple to use, though some of the submenus are quite hidden, making them hard to access. And the USB ports are mounted in the glovebox; not a drama, per se, but more inconvenient than most.
Price and features
Jeep Grand Cherokee8/10
This three-row L, scheduled to go on sale mid-year, is the first of several versions of the Grand Cherokee set to arrive in 2022.
Our very own Chesto has driven the five-seat version in the US, specifically the plug-in hybrid 4xe, another first for the model, set to hit showrooms in the second half of the year.
But for now, the seven-seat L is the focus, offered in three grades starting at just over $80K, before on-road costs, and topping out at roughly $115,000.
This is part of Jeep’s stated aim to move upmarket, and aside from the safety and drivetrain tech covered a little later, the entry-level Night Eagle at $82,250, before on-road costs, features suede and leather-appointed seat trim, eight-way electrically-adjustable and heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, sat nav, an 8.4-inch multimedia screen, a 10.25-inch instrument display, six-speaker audio (with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity), three-zone climate control, a rear-view camera, keyless entry and start, adaptive cruise control, auto LED lights, 20-inch alloys, a power tailgate, and more.
Step up to the Limited ($87,950) and the media screen increases to 10.1-inch, the seat trim is even plusher ‘Capri’ leather, there’s a multi-memory seat function for the driver, the front seats are ventilated and the second row is heated, pull-up shades are added to the rear side windows, the audio system has three extra speakers with a 506W amp (and active noise control), plus there’s ambient interior lighting, and auto high beam.
Opt for the top-shelf Summit Reserve ($115,450) and the rims are even bigger at 21 inches, the front seats are 12-way electrically-adjustable, open pore wood trim is added to the dash, doors, and steering wheel, the climate control is four-zone, the front seats feature a configurable massage function, the stereo is pumped up to a 19-speaker, 960-watt package, there’s a dual-pane sunroof above your head, and the ‘Palermo’ leather seat trim is quilted. There’s more, from Berber floor mats to a hands-free tailgate, but you get the idea.
Overall, despite a solid asking price, generous standard equipment helps substantiate a category competitive value package.
In terms of its value, the $58,990 Pajero GLS presents very well against its most logical rival, the $59,990 Toyota Prado GXL. It's arguably got more capability than than the younger Prado, though size- and ability-wise, the Paj isn’t too far off the venerable LandCruiser GXL, which is almost $25,000 dearer.
Out of the box, the Pajero GLS comes with automatic lights and wipers, a leather-clad steering wheel and shifter, leather-bolstered seats with cloth inserts, heated front seats, a rear diff lock, front and rear fog lights, regular (non-adaptive) cruise control, and a 7.0-inch touchscreen multimedia system with Apple Car Play, Android Auto and Bluetooth streaming. There is no navigation fitted to this particular version.
The Paj features a multi-stage 4x4 system that Mitsubishi calls Super Select II, as well as independent suspension front and rear, and the company's tried and trusted 3.2-litre DiD four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine mated to an old-school five-speed automatic gearbox. It rides on 18-inch alloys that are shod with a more street-orientated all-terrain tyre.
Engine & trans
Jeep Grand Cherokee7/10
All versions of the Grand Cherokee L are powered by a 3.6-litre naturally-aspirated V6 petrol engine producing 210kW at 6400rpm, and 344Nm at 4000rpm, driving all four wheels through an eight-speed auto transmission and a transfer case - single speed on the first two models and two-speed on the Summit Reserve flagship.
The evergreen Pentastar V6 is a naturally-aspirated, all-alloy, quad-cam design featuring dual variable valve timing and sequential-injection.
If you want more grunt? Yes, there’s a 5.7-litre Hemi V8 available in this new Grand Cherokee. But it’s in the States, not here. There’s no diesel option, either. But as mentioned earlier, a plug-in hybrid, the 4xe (four-by-e) is coming later in 2022.
The fourth-generation Pajero was updated in 2011 with the then-new 4M41 3.2-litre four-cylinder direct injection turbo diesel engine, and it instantly transformed the Pajero into a much nicer rig.
Even seven years on, the engine still feels refined and powerful, and it gives nothing away to its more modern, smaller capacity four-cylinder turbo diesel rivals. It musters up 141kW of power and 441Nm of torque – the latter number sounds a bit anaemic in this age of 500Nm utes, and the two-tonne-plus weight of the Paj plays against it too, but in use, even with a two-tonne race car/trailer combo on the back, it did the job perfectly well.
The engine connects to Mitsubishi’s Super Select II 4x4 system via an old but tough five-speed auto.
The Super Select II system allows the driver to pick rear-wheel drive, or three distinct 4x4 modes. High-range 4WD (centre diff unlocked) is suitable for everyday use, and should arguably be the default setting. High-range 4WD (centre diff locked) is better for dry and loose conditions, while low-range 4WD is your go-anywhere, do-anything mode, especially when combined with the lockable rear diff.
What does that do, you ask? It basically prevents the diff from sending all power to the wheel it thinks needs it the most, enabling both rear wheels to help when the going gets slippery. It's a definite no-no on the streets, though; you'll 'wind up' the diff by not allowing the other wheel to rotate freely when you're turning a corner, and it doesn't like that.
If you want to tow with the 2255kg Pajero, it can haul 3000kg of braked trailer, and has a generous gross vehicle mass figure (total legal weight of car, trailer, passengers and load) of 6030kg. If your trailer is over 2500kg, the downball weight maximum is 180kg, which increases to 250kg if the trailer is under that figure.
Sure, the Pajero not getting any younger, but it all works brilliantly well... and that's testament to its basic good character.
Jeep Grand Cherokee7/10
Jeep’s official fuel economy figure for the Grand Cherokee L on the combined cycle is 10.6L/100km, the 3.6-litre V6 emitting 243g/100km of CO2 in the process.
Given the specific on and off-road combination of the launch drive we’ll wait until we can evaluate the car over a longer period to quote an ‘on test’ number.
Worth noting stop-start is standard, and in the name of weight saving, the car’s bonnet and tailgate are aluminium. Still weighs around 2.2 tonnes, though.
The tank holds 104 litres, which using the quoted consumption number, translates to a range of around 980km.
After 380km aboard the Paj, including 55km with a laden trailer behind it, we returned a dash-indicated fuel figure of 10.4 litres per 100 kilometres on the combined fuel economy cycle, and our 38 litres of fuel used equated to a real-world 10.0L/100km.
Against a combined fuel economy claim of 9.1 litres, this is a great result.
The Pajero’s tank holds 88 litres of fuel, giving it a theoretical range of 980km.
Jeep Grand Cherokee8/10
In driving the new Grand Cherokee the first thing you recognise is the Pentastar V6’s characteristic induction sound. That’s not to say it’s overly loud, just familiar.
But in terms of what it delivers, nearly 90 percent of the engine's peak torque is available from 1800 to 6400 rpm, so you’ve got that mid-range pulling power which is as nice on the highway as it is around town, but also good for people that are into towing.
The eight-speed auto is nice and smooth, as well, and even though it’s a conventional torque-converter unit, manual shifts through the steering wheel paddles are quick.
Suspension is multi-link front and rear, with the top-spec Summit Reserve picking up air suspension and active damping. Major components are alloy to reduce unsprung weight but you can certainly feel the scale of this car.
It’s 5.2 metres long and weighs roughly 2.2 tonnes, so you’re guiding this sizeable machine along the road. It’s not an involving drive, we’re not in sports car territory here. But it feels stable and predictable in cornering, and body control is well buttoned-down.
The electrically-assisted steering’s weight is nice from parking speeds right up to freeway velocity, but road feel through the wheel is relatively modest.
In terms of the seating position, you do feel as though you’re sitting up and on, rather than down and in the front seats. But when it comes to support, after hours behind the wheel, including off road, the front chairs remained comfortable.
This is a big vehicle, that will often have a boat, van, or something else substantial hitched to the back of it, and the brakes are suitably specified.
Big discs are ventilated all around, clamped by two piston calipers at the front and singles at the rear, and on the off-road section of the launch drive we were by necessity leaning on the brakes for long periods of time.
You could occasionally smell that they were working hard, but the pedal remained firm all day, without a hint of fade.
Speaking of off-highway performance, as part of its development program Jeep tested this new Grand Cherokee in remote parts of Australia, with more than 60,000 km under the wheels of various prototypes. Likely a big help in setting up the local spec.
And that spec is, four-wheel drive in all models, as well as a single-speed transfer case in the Night Eagle and Limited, with the latter also featuring the ‘Selec-Terrain’ traction management system, controlling torque split (up to 100 per cent of drive to either axle), as well as the brake calibration, steering, suspension, throttle, transmission, transfer case, traction control, stability control, and ABS settings.
The Summit Reserve boasts a two-speed transfer case, with low-range reduction, as well as traction management and air suspension with electronic adaptive damping.
The air suspension incorporates five height settings - Normal, Off-road 1 (40mm lift), Off-road 2 (60mm lift), Park (46mm lower), and when in sport, Aero (21mm lower).
In typical Jeep fashion we attacked challenging fire and forestry trails on the launch drive and a couple of things emerged.
First, on street-focused tyres this car does incredibly well off-highway. And second, the ‘Quadra-Trac II’ 4x4 system with low-range capability in the Summit Reserve, combined with the crawl control function, makes a significant difference. You find yourself feeling that bit more composed and confident tackling very rough sections.
Also in the Summit Reserve, a low-set, forward facing camera allows you to see what’s actually happening at the front wheel via the central media screen, and in the Off-road 2 setting the car feels like it’s up on stilts and able to tackle anything in its way.
And for those that really want to get amongst it, the body clearance data is below.
|Night Eagle/Limited||Summit Reserve|
|Running clearance (mm)||215||276|
|Approach angel (degrees)||20.6||28.2|
|Breakover angle (degrees)||18.2||22.6|
|Departure angel (degrees)||21.5||23.6|
|Wading depth (mm)||530||610|
Around town and between cities, the Pajero is a big, soft, cuddly, easy-to-drive companion on both tar and gravel. It's not exactly precise through the helm, but it stays away from being overly agricultural, and compares well to younger rivals like the Everest.
In fact, it's surprisingly easy and comfortable to drive every day, with a responsive, well modulated power delivery through the five-speed auto, good brakes and good road manners at cruise. It's easy to manoeuvre in town, too, though there's no doubting that it's a big car from behind the wheel.
On paper, it seems like it’s a little less sophisticated than some of its more modern rivals when it comes to off-road ability, but with the rear diff lock and low-range capability, the Paj does perfectly well without modern niceties like hill descent and ascent control modes.
The gearbox can be overridden so a gear can be held when clambering up or ratcheting down a steep terrain, and while the more citified tyres are a little bit of a compromise when the going gets really rugged, dropping the pressures will help immensely to find additional grip when needed.
Jeep Grand Cherokee8/10
The Grand Cherokee L is yet to be assessed by ANCAP, but Jeep has upped its active safety game with standard crash-avoidance tech including, AEB with cyclist and pedestrian detection, lane keep assist, ‘Intersection Collision Assist’, adaptive cruise, as well blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, traffic sign recognition, tyre pressure monitoring, and ‘Drowsy Driver Detection.’
The Summit Reserve adds Level 2 driving assistance features, a 360-degree camera view, self-parking assist (parallel and perpendicular), and more.
If an impact is unavoidable, there are eight airbags on-board - dual front, front side, front knee, and full-length side-curtain.
There are three child seat top tethers across the second row, with ISOFIX anchors on all three positions. And there are top tethers on both third row seats.
This is where the Pajero’s age plays against it. It’s equipped with six airbags (including full-length curtain bags) and brake assist, as well as a reversing camera, but its architecture prevents the addition of driver aids like lane departure warning and auto emergency braking (AEB).
It still holds a maximum five-star ANCAP safety ranking, which was achieved in 2011. If it were retested for 2018, it could potentially lose up to two stars for the missing driver aid equipment.
Jeep Grand Cherokee6/10
Jeep covers the Grand Cherokee with a five-year/100,000km warranty, which is behind the five-year unlimited kays cover which is pretty much standard in the mainstream market now.
But you do receive 12 months complimentary roadside assistance, which is renewed for another year every time you service your vehicle at an authorised Jeep dealer.
Service is recommended every 12 months or 12,000km, and capped price servicing is available for $399 annually for the first five years. Not bad for a car of this scale and complexity.
Mitsubishi offers a five-year/100,000km warranty on the Pajero.
It also offers a fixed-price service deal for the first three years of the Pajero’s life, with service intervals of 15,000km or 12 months (whichever comes first).
The first three services over 36 months total $1810 (which is $460 more than the Pajero Sport, by way of comparison).