As a kid, I can always remember driving around in a Mitsubishi Pajero. My folks are onto their third one, and picked up a 2015 NX 3.2L GLS diesel in 2018, which they’ve been using to tow a 2750kg Kokoda Digger Caravan. In this post, we look at how its gone, whether they’d get one again and what you need to look out for.
Pajeros are great vehicles
I have to say, if you want a mildly capable, comfortable and no fuss 4WD that won’t break the bank, Pajero’s are up there with the best. Dad’s had a number over the years, and whilst I feel they are less refined than a Toyota Prado you pay a whole heap less too.
With a good driver, I’ve seen these things show up plenty of other 4WD’s, and its almost comical to watch, as they aren’t considered to be tough off road 4WD’s. They are IFS and IRS (independent front and rear suspension), which is unusual, but they fill a particular niche extremely well, and despite many people knocking them they are actually a really solid option.
Pajero owners know this, but a lot of others don’t. It comes with a factory rear diff lock, which is pretty helpful.
Unfortunately the Mitsubishi Pajero is no longer sold now (you can get the Pajero Sport, which is basically a replacement new Mitsubishi Challenger with a 2.4L turbo diesel motor), but you can still pick up a reasonably new unit.
Its worth mentioning that these run a different chassis to what you’d expect on a 4WD; it’s a monocoque and is part of the body of the vehicle, which can present some different challenges when fitting accessories.
Dad’s Pajero facts
Dad purchased the Pajero in 2018, with about 21k on the clock, for about 43k. Yes, this was well before the prices of used 4WD’s went through the roof. Since then, he’s fitted an aluminium Bull bar, some roof rails, a Provent 200 catch can, Amaron starter battery, rear airbag man airbags for towing, long range fuel tank and an old awning that we had from our 80 Series Land Cruiser, and that’s it.
They load some basic gear in the back (food, fishing gear, dive gear and that’s really about it) and its got a factory Mitsubishi Tow Bar on the rear.
Kokoda Digger Caravan
The van is a 2017 Kokoda Digger X-trail, and is single axle with two spares on the rear. It’s got an ATM of 2750kg, a tare weight of 2240kg, and is up there with the largest single axle vans you can get.
Dad was keen on getting a single axle van for a number of reasons, and I don’t think they’d be legal towing a dual axle one due to the weight limitations. Dual axle vans are always heavier from the get go, and that’s a problem when you have limited weight available.
How does it the Mitsubishi Pajero tow?
The 3.2L, 142kW diesel motor is a torquey motor, and I’d say its significantly more powerful than our Isuzu Dmax. It tows their van at 2750kg reasonably easily, with Dad sitting on 90km/h most of the time and returning fuel figures around the 20L/100km, or slightly better. This has been improved by fitting a torque converter lockup kit though, which we’ll talk about more in another post.
For the first part of the ownership I kept hammering Dad about getting an OBD2 scanner to check his automatic transmission temperature, which he finally did after finding his transmission oil black (and potentially burnt after only 50,000km).
The results were surprising, with the transmission temperature rarely going over 100 degrees thanks to a lockup kit too. Mitsubishi run a factory transmission cooler, which is far better than the unit at the bottom of the radiator on our Isuzu Dmax that is woefully inadequate when towing something heavy.
To this date, they are still running the factory cooling system with a cheap OBD2 Bluetooth module and the ‘Torque’ app to monitor the temperatures as needed, and it does really well. We saw 111 degrees the other day in our Isuzu Dmax in the Adelaide hills, and that’s with an aftermarket transmission cooler but no aftermarket lockup kit!
When we compare temperatures the Mitsubishi Pajero often has lower temperatures, which is interesting given a much heavier van, and a bigger, less aerodynamic one than our Reconn R2. That said, the GCM is probably similar.
One of the interesting benefits of the Mitsubishi Pajero is its exceptional turning circle. This thing literally runs rings around our Dmax in terms of backing and manoeuvring into tight spots. Dad is incredibly fortunate in that he has just enough clearance to have the van at more than 90 degrees to his car without anything touching, which makes for some pretty entertaining movements.
Are they legal?
Yes, in every way. That said, Dad has to pay careful attention to his tow ball weight (and regularly weighs it before they take off and makes adjustments) as the Pajero is limited to 180kg tow ball weight when you are towing over 2500kg. That is a huge problem, and one of the reasons Pajero’s are not a prime towing vehicle for many. You can get tow ball weight upgrades in some states, but I’m not sure if it applies in WA.
GVM: 3030kg maximum
Rear Axle Weight: 1780kg at maximum
Front Axle Weight: 1330kg at maximum
Van ATM: 2750kg
Tow ball weight: Between 160 and 180kg.
Isn’t the tow ball weight too low?
Everyone seems to think that you have to have 10% tow ball weight or you’ll be towing in an unsafe manner. This is complete and utter rubbish, and there’s a reason Mitsubishi recommend 6% tow ball weight. You can have a perfectly legal and stable 4WD and Caravan at less than 10%; it really depends on the design, and weight distribution
Dad often puts a jerry can or two on the rear to change the tow ball weight, and keeps it under 180kg at all times. He’s had a couple of blow outs and never had any significant sway issues.
Yes, the van about the same, or maybe a smidge more than the car, and I don’t like, or recommend this, but it can be done legally and you have to be sensible about it.
He’s also recently installed a TPMS system (Tyre pressure monitoring system), which is a good idea especially with a heavy, single axle van like theirs.
Overall, I can’t really speak much higher about the Mitsubishi Pajero. It’s a really, really under rated vehicle, and I have no doubt it will continue to take my folks around the country for many years with minimal fuss. You can’t ask for much more than that!