Text and photos by Eric Tipan
As one of the most successful models to ever run in the prestigious yet grueling Dakar Rally endurance race, the Pajero has gained the status of elite in terms of durability and quality — attributes that have made it highly coveted by both off-road enthusiasts and the average everyday driver.
Even with the popularity and affordability of the Montero Sport, which is essentially derived from the Pajero, the latter continues to be a favorite by those who can afford its lofty price tag.
I take a look at why the 2017 Mitsubishi Pajero GLS Di-D continues to be quite an attractive option for SUV buyers.
The fourth-generation smoothens its exterior out compared to its progenitor while also keeping its squarish and upright silhouette that’s been more or less part of the Pajero’s defining aesthetic characteristic.
It improves slightly on the style developed by famed Italian auto designer Pininfarina on the third generation by adding a more pronounced grille that instantly adds more toughness to its presence.
New horizontal LED daytime running lamps are setup right beside the fog lamps and below the high intensity discharge (HID) headlamps that now come with auto dimming function once it detects oncoming traffic.
The step board seems a bit narrow even for my size nines and without any clearance from the chassis, I could only squeeze my forefoot in there.No worries though as its SUV design makes getting in less of a climb compared to the Strada.
The well-defined wheel arches continue to be a visual expression of its prowess but sans any roof rails and cleaner lines, the Pajero seems more high society now than ever before.
The Pajero’s cabin will generously seat five in the first two rows but the third row will be a tight fit for anyone older than 10.All seats come leather-wrapped, the driver’s is 10-way adjustable, while the front passenger can go four ways.
A couple of features need updating. First, the steering wheel which is only adjustable up and down, and also the lack of compartments for modern, more sizable devices.
It does come loaded with a new multimedia system that uses a 6.5-inch touchscreen able to handle DVDs and CDs along with devices that connect via USB, AUX-in and Bluetooth. The screen also doubles as a reverse monitor.
Above the touchscreen is a digital readout of the outside temperature, fuel consumption, drive range and average speed, and if you frequently set off from the beaten path, it also comes with a barometer and compass to help guide you along the way.
Power and performance
The two-generation old 3.2L 16-Valve DOHC turbocharged and intercooled DI-D engine now comes with Variable Geometry Turbo (VGT) that gives the Pajero a healthy 192 PS and 441 Nm of torque.
There’s a certain amount of real-feel I got from the steering wheel and the throttle that made me feel the heft of the Pajero. Steering is pinpoint and relatively light considering this is vehicle weights a little over two tons.
The INVECS-II five-Speed AT with Sportronic Mode and Super Select II 4WD may seem ancient by current standards but it shifts imperceptibly and doesn’t seem to shortchange the engine even at high enough speeds.
Even in the jungle that is EDSA during rush hour, the powertrain does an excellent job to make the drive tranquil and easy on the driver.
The Pajero’s suspension will mask every road imperfection in Metro Manila save for that terrible patch along C-5 southbound just after Acropolis that needs the DPWH’s attention stat.
It is this ride comfort and stability that makes the Pajero worth every single centavo of its P2.755 million price tag.
What would feel like a chassis-breaking faults on the road are nothing but barely-there ripples inside the cabin, and even if the entire undercarriage is hustling and puffing, I made out but hushed squeaks thanks to its very low levels of NVH.
Legacy of performance and quality
It is expensive no doubt.But keep in mind that performance and quality don’t come cheap.Built to withstand more than the average amount of abuse a vehicle can take, everything feels solid and screwed on tightly like an armored car.
Between its Super Select II 4WD system (2H, 4H, 4H LC and 4L LC) and its 4×4 capability — winning the Dakar Rally an unprecedented seven consecutive times, 12 all in all — you’d be hard-pressed to find an on-road and off-road situation it can’t handle.
The 2017 Mitsubishi Pajero GLS Di-D may be long in the tooth and short of a few modern amenities, but it more than makes up for what it lacks with a ride and drive that continues to live up to its heritage.