Mitsubishi Pajero VS Toyota Fortuner
- 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
- Sturdy, unusual looking 4x4 wagon
- Price cuts make it better value
- Quiet and comfy on-road
- No driver aids anywhere in lineup
- Engine works hard up the rev range
- Third row seating compromises practicality
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|
If you remember the Toyota 4Runner from the 1980s, then you’ll totally get the Fortuner.
For those of you born before the advent of the mobile phone, the Fortuner wagon is based on the same platform as the HiLux ute, save for its coil-spring rear suspension.
The cost of a Toyota Fortuner has taken a huge cut for the 2018 model year, and it’s gained a couple of tweaks along the way. Let’s do a model comparison of the range in more detail.
|Engine Type||2.8L turbo|
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?
Toyota Fortuner 7.4/10
Dropping the price of the Fortuner range will improve its fortunes – but it will no doubt upset customers who bought them at first blush.
The Fortuner is an interesting device; it’s civil enough around town but its skillset really lies in the bush or the snow. While the entry grade GX is the pick if you’re intending to use it in the dirt a lot, we’d probably favour the mid-grade GXL if we were staying on the tarmac for the most part. The Crusade is nice, but its spec level over and above the GXL isn’t that compelling – although the LED headlights are brilliant.
Is Toyota's Fortuner on your seven seat 4WD SUV short-list? Tell us in the comments below.
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.
Toyota Fortuner 7/10
The exterior design of modern 4x4 wagons runs the gamut from the straight-bat Isuzu MU-X all the way through to the radical and unorthodox Mitsubishi Pajero Sport.
The Fortuner sits somewhere between those two extremes. It's certainly not something that you'd miss in a car park, but it's not quite as… erm, challenging as something like the Pajero Sport.
The LED headlight array and extra chrome on the Crusade may not appeal to some, but as a package, the Fortuner looks futuristic and quite resolved, without the need for a bodykit (except side steps).
Inside, it manages to hide its commercial origins quite well across all three grades. However, there are still some hard plastics within view, including on top of the door cards and centre console bin, which can be irritating should you rest your elbow there on longer trips.
Thankfully, we can report, that the centre console bin lid is padded in the Crusade. Cheaper versions of the Fortuner have seen us actually tape pieces of foam mat on top of the lid in the search for extra comfort.
It's a bit early to talk second hand price, but the Fortuner will take a hit in resale thanks to the cut.
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.
Toyota Fortuner 7/10
In terms of dimensions and size, the 4795mm-long Fortuner is a centimetre longer and 30mm wider than the Pajero Sport, but it’s almost 100mm shorter than the big Everest.
It’s sold as a seven-seater, with two fold-down seats in the rear (folding up and into the sides of the cargo area).
It’s not a very practical way to carry them when stowed, though, as the folded seats intrude into the rear interior dimensions significantly. A flimsy hook arrangement secures them in the locked position, and you even need to fold down the inside seat rail before locking them into place.
Boot space drops to 200 litres when the third-row seats are in use, as well, but boot dimensions grow to 1080 litres with the seats stowed. Still, they are a luggage capacity killer. No cargo barrier is fitted.
Once locked in place, the third row can be accessed by tumbling second-row seats forward, but given how low they’re mounted, are only suitable for smaller people.
The second row gets roof vents and a fan control, but there’s no such joy for third rowers. All three rows are covered with the curtain airbag, though.
Row two gets a 12-volt power socket (as well as a proper 220-volt socket in the Crusade) while a pair of fold-up hooks in the front seat backs can handle up to four kilos of shopping bags each.
Legroom is adequate, though the seat base is mounted quite high which intrudes on headroom for taller passengers.
There’s a pair of ISOFIX mounts for a baby car seat and three top-tether points, as well as two cupholders in the centre armrest and bottle holders in each rear door.
Up front, meanwhile, reside a pair of manually operated seats in GX and GXL, and a powered driver’s seat in the Crusade, while an oddly half-wrapped steering wheel on GXL and Fortuner wasn’t a favourite with testers; the shiny veneer finish at the top of the wheel rim was decidedly slippery if grabbed during a parking manoeuvre.
Bottles can be stashed in all doors, while a pair of cupholders graces our auto-equipped tester’s centre console. However, manual-equipped cars miss out on front cupholders all together.
A USB and 12-volt socket are covered by rubber flaps, which along with the heavy duty rubberised floor mats are a hint to the car’s rugged aspirations.
On the negative side, the middle belt on the second row is mounted in the roof, and is a pain to access. It’s a long way up into the cabin from the ground for shorter folks, too, while the folded-up third row seats completely obscure the rear three-quarter windows when stashed.
The centre console bin, too, isn’t padded in the GX and GXL, and as mentioned, gets VERY annoying under your elbow after a couple of hours.
The bonnet, too, is ridiculously heavy. In fact, many people may struggle to lift it high enough to lock the support stay into place.
Price and features
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.
Toyota Fortuner 8/10
The Fortuner comes in three grades, all with the same engine and four-wheel drive (4WD) set-up. How many seats, you ask? Seven, all told.
At the bottom of the price range, the GX costs $42,590 in six-speed manual guise or $44,590 with a six-speed auto. That’s a hefty $5400 cut in price, and it’s been slightly improved for 2018, with 17-inch alloy rims instead of steel wheels, and a set of rear parking sensors to complement the reversing camera.
LED taillights, air con, a cloth interior, cruise control, a chilled bin, a 7.0-inch touchscreen multimedia system and seven seats are all standard. A polyurethane steering wheel, basic multimedia system with Bluetooth (but no nav or Apple Carplay/Android Auto) and rubber mats round out the spec. The old-school radio CD player is a thing of the past, and there's no DVD player.
The $47,490 Fortuner GXL is the beneficiary of a $5500 price cut; it’s now as cheap as the GX was at launch.
Toyota has added a new multimedia touchscreen system, incorporating satellite navigation, to the 2.8-litre turbo-diesel powered GXL, which comes stock with a six-speed manual gearbox. Also on the standard equipment list are, LED tail-lights, air conditioning, cloth interior, a chilled centre console bin, the aforementioned 7.0-inch touchscreen multimedia system with a GPS-based navigation system and Bluetooth, as well as seven seats.
It also has push-button start with automatic door lock and keyless entry, roof racks, a colour TFT display for the dash, hill descent control, roof rails and fog lights over the GX. A half-leather wrapped steering wheel and old-fashioned rubber mats round out the spec.
A six-speed auto is $2000, while an all-leather interior with powered front seats is available for an additional $2500, if you're looking to know how much.
The list price of the Crusade is $5000 cheaper at $56,990, and only comes in auto. It offers a few extras on top of the GXL, including leather seats with heated fronts, padded centre console bin lid and a powered driver’s pew, a JBL-branded multimedia system with 11 speakers, daytime running lights, smart key and more satin-touch interior finishes including around the gearshift.
As with all the Fortuners, it comes with a locking rear diff and high-low range 4WD. Other niceties in the Crusade include a powered tailgate, but no sunroof is offered from the factory.
When it comes to picking one of the three, we’d lean towards the auto-equipped GXL. It has all the essentials with a few nice touches, and really only misses out on a padded centre console bin lid in terms of comfort.
When it comes to colours, the Fortuner comes in black, white, blue, brown, red, grey and silver.
Toyota offers a factory-approved accessories, including a bullbar, snorkel and nudge bar for the Fortuner. Floor mats are rubber, and rims are alloy. You'll need to source your own dual battery system if you want one.
Engine & trans
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.
Toyota Fortuner 7/10
The (1GD-FTV) 2.8-litre turbo four-cylinder diesel, sourced from the HiLux, offers the same engine specifications, with maximum power of 130kW at 3400rpm and peak torque of 420Nm between 1400 and 2600rpm in manual guise. The automatic version loses 30Nm of that torque value.
If you're wondering if the engine uses a timing belt or chain, it uses the latter. Oil capacity is 7.5 litres. Toyota doesn't offer a 0-100km/h acceleration speed figure for the car.
Linked to an Aisin-built six-speed manual with a well-weighted clutch, it’s a relatively quiet and pleasingly smooth, tractable engine. The six-speed (conventional, torque converter) auto, too, is well matched to the engine's horsepower, and the steering wheel-mounted gearshift paddles were rarely, if ever, employed.
If it came to a question of manual vs automatic, we'd plump for the self-shifter every time.
The Fortuner range comes with a high range 2WD/4WD and low-range 4WD system activated by a dial on the centre console, while a locking rear diff is also standard. As mentioned, suspension is steel springs and dampers, with MacPherson struts up front and a beam set-up at the rear. There is no rear air suspension.
The manual variant also offers a slightly higher braked towing capacity of 3000kg, versus the auto’s 2800kg.
Weights for the car vary between 2110kg and 2135kg, and the gross vehicle mass (car plus payload, including people) is 2750kg – with four average people on board, you’ve got about 400kg of payload to play with.
The gross combined mass (car, trailer, gear and people) for the two transmissions is 5745kg (manual) and 5545kg (auto), meaning the Fortuner can legally tow 2995kg or 2795kg of trailer respectively when it’s fully loaded.
Downball weight (the weight pushing down on the towbar ball hitch) is 250kg, and Toyota recommends the fitting of a weight distribution hitch if you’re hooking up something biggish. Watch this space for a tow test review.
There have been reported problems with the automatic transmission, with fixes in place to improve oil flow via changing a lock ball pin for fifth and sixth gears. As well, the tailshaft in some Fortuners has needed aligning to fix a gear selection problem.
There is no evidence of engine problems with the turbo powered Fortuner at this stage, though anecdotal evidence of fuel injectors lasting only 100,000km has been called out in various user groups.
There are no other common problems, complaints, defects or issues of note.
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.
Toyota Fortuner 8/10
Against a claim of 7.8 litres per 100km on the combined fuel economy cycle for all three grades and both transmissions, we used 66 litres of diesel to achieve a real-world figure of 8.9L/100km over 756km of testing in the GXL.
The dash-indicated fuel consumption figures of 8.6 and 8.9 in the GX and Crusade bear out this claim.
There is an 'Eco' mode button on the dash, but it only changes the throttle map and doesn't really do much for economy; we used it for about 200km on a highway stint and mileage didn't improve noticeably.
When it comes to petrol vs diesel or LPG... wait, it doesn't matter. You'll never get a petrol version.
Its 80-litre tank offers a theoretical range of around 1000km between fills. No long range tank is fitted.
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.
Toyota Fortuner 7/10
All three cars are essentially the same underneath, save for the 17-inch rims on the GX. The Crusade’s 18-inch wheels are fitted with more road-biased tyres, as well.
Instead of load-lugging leaf springs as in the HiLux, the Fortuner uses coil springs and a beam axle to improve ride quality.
We took the GXL for a an extended test, and it was a comfortable and competent alternative to a more car-based SUV.
It’s noisier inside thanks to its dual-purpose tyres, there’s no digital speedo (a strange omission, given there’s a multi-function digital centre screen between the dash gauges), the steering could be more precise at the speed limit, and modern safety aids like adaptive cruise control and blind spot warning would have been nice to have, but we emerged after each leg in good condition.
The long-travel suspension is firm at low speeds, but frees up the faster you go, providing a more comfortable ride over square-edged bumps and rougher roads.
Steering is reasonably direct, though not especially precise, and you need a steady hand to stop it wandering off centre – a trait of most 4WDs of this size, to be fair.
The 2.8-litre turbo-diesel feels strong at part-throttle, and the long travel accelerator pedal is easy to modulate. The engine sounds and feels laboured when it’s put under load, though, and runs out of steam as it nears 3000rpm. Blame the engine size - we're all used to bigger, leggier diesels.
Outside noise is well suppressed inside the cabin, and visibility is largely okay, save for the rear three-quarter view which is completely blocked by those stowed third-row seats.
To test its off-road ability, we ran the Fortuner up and down steep, rutted, gravel-strewn fire roads that would easily defeat a stock SUV. With its locking diff, on-demand low- and high-range 4WD, and a hill-descent switch, the Fortuner was far from troubled, walking down the slope with ease and climbing up again in H4 without drama.
Its ground clearance is 225mm (not 279mm as first stated by Toyota at launch), and has a wading depth of 700mm. Its turning radius is 11.2m.
Its 80-litre tank and approximately 1000km range may not be large enough for remote explorers, though.
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.
Toyota Fortuner 7/10
All grades of Fortuner miss out on AEB, park assist, adaptive cruise control and lane departure warning, but seven airbags, a reverse camera and sensors as well as stability and traction control means it still scores a top five-star ANCAP safety features rating.
It offers trailer sway control as standard across the range, as well as hill descent control on the GXL and Crusade grades.
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).
Toyota Fortuner 8/10
Toyota offers a fixed service cost program for the Fortuner, which costs $240 per service for the first six services over three years or 60,000km.
Service intervals of 12 months or 10,000km are recommended, and a warranty of three years/100,000km is provided as standard. Toyota doesn't offer extended warranty, but the brand is well regarded for reliability. Just make sure your owner's manual is stamped.
A mid-grade GXL auto bought new in 2016 has lost around 20 per cent if you're looking at resale value.