Enjoy getting away off the beaten track but still want a comfortable city vehicle for your family? This could be the car for you.
The Pajero Sport is the smaller of two large, but very different, 4WDs offered by Mitsubishi.
While both compete in the large SUV market, the Pajero Sport is 215mm shorter than the Pajero.
It also is 60mm narrower and 40mm lower than its bigger sibling and while they have similar off-road capabilities the Pajero Sport has been designed more for the urban environment.
While the name suggests the Pajero Sport is a variant of the Pajero it has more in common with the Triton ute sitting on the same platform and sharing many of the same mechanical underpinnings.
It also has the same diesel engine as the Triton though it does not offer a petrol variant. The Pajero Sport is offered in three trim levels – GLX, GLS and Exceed and with the option of five or seven seats, depending on the trim level.
Direct Advice for Dads was provided with the mid-spec GLS with five seats for testing.
Strap ’em in
As you would expect in a large SUV, there is plenty of room in the back seat for two baby seats, whether they are forward or rear facing.
It has two sets of ISOFIX fittings and three anchorage points, in the roof of the cargo area just in front of the tailgate, for the top tether.
With the rear facing seat set up behind the driver’s seat I had to move the seat forward a little from my preferred driving position but not enough to make it uncomfortable to drive.
There were a few issues with the Pajero Sport in regards to fitting baby seats.
- While there is provision for three anchor points for the top tether only one is fitted as standard and it is for the middle seat. The issue with having the baby seat in the middle, especially in a big vehicle like the Pajero Sport, is that you would need to climb into the car to put the bub in the seat.
- There is a second anchor supplied but for some reason Mitsubishi decided to put it in a sealed bag in the glove box (I am guessing for aesthetics reasons). If you need to fit two baby seats you will have to screw the extra fitting into one side and either purchase a second fitting or move the middle fitting to the other side (they don’t fit if you use the middle seat). The second option also leaves a gaping hole in the middle of the roof.
- Having the top tethers secured to the roof, and so far back, makes it a little messy in the cargo area. You will also need to buy a long extension if you are using a rear facing baby seat.
- If you are looking to buy the seven-seat version it also means the straps will be over the top of the passengers in the third row of seats. You could move the baby seats into the third row but I am going to suggest a rear facing seat won’t fit and there are no ISOFIX fittings. If you opt to put forward facing baby seats in the third row you will definitely need to climb into the car to get the bub in and out of the seat – not something I would be wanting to do.
- If you need two baby seats and set them up in the middle row of a seven-seater you cannot tilt the seats forward to access the third row seats. (This is the same in any seven-seater).
The Pajero Sport cabin is well finished and comfortable. The mid-spec GLS comes with leather upholstery (a must have with small children) and soft-touch plastics in all the right places.
While it is a dark grey palate, the chrome highlights give it a nice lift and a premium look. Storage is good, with cup-holders for passengers in all three rows of seats and bottle holders in each door.
From the driver’s seat the dash layout is nice and clean and easy to read, and Mitsubishi has done a good job with insulation ensuring a quiet peaceful cabin.
Some friends commented on how high the Pajero Sport felt as they “climbed” in, which may be a bit of an issue for some people when putting the bub in the car.
This can be summed up in just one word — massive — and is one of the main reasons I would buy a large SUV over a small or medium-sized wagon.
While there is slightly more room in the back seat of the Pajero Sport than most medium-sized SUVs, there is substantially more cargo space.
On the five-seater version we tested the cargo space is 1073mm long and can hold 673 litres of gear with the second seat in use and 1624 litres when it is folded flat.
Even with the second seat in use there is more than enough space for a pram or two, even the larger models, as well as whatever else you want to carry.
The Pajero Sport also comes with a full-size spare tyre that fits underneath the car. It is wound down via a bolt in the floor of the cargo area.
The Pajero Sport comes standard with Emergency Braking Mitigation and adaptive cruise control technologies that are both designed to help prevent rear-end accidents. You need to move up to the top-of-the-range Exceed to get lane departure warning.
Inside the cabin there is a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay, a reversing camera with rear parking sensors and six-speaker stereo. The GLS also comes standard with climate control with vents for all three rows (even when there aren’t three rows).
There are three 12 volt power outlets and two USB ports, though they are both in the back of the centre console. It also comes with keyless entry and start and automatic headlights and windscreen wipers.
ANCAP Safety Rating: 5 Stars
The Pajero Sport was last tested by ANCAP in December 2015 and scored 36.22 out of 37.
It scored 15.22 out of 16 in the frontal offset crash and full marks in all other crash tests.
Standard safety equipment includes the driver assist technology previously mentioned along with seven airbags, Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD) and Emergency Brake Assist (EBA).
The wife’s take
The Pajero Sport just reinforced what I already knew – I really am not a fan of big 4WDs.
I found it quiet high and felt like I had to climb up to get into it, though the one advantage of that was getting the kids into the baby seats in the back was really easy.
Once up and in the car I liked the layout of the interior and found the infotainment system easy to use. I was, however, a little puzzled at why the USB points could only be found at the back of the centre console – I had to get in the back seat to plug them in (though I think younger drivers will probably be able to reach around more easily).
I thought it was comfortable and easy to drive, despite its size, though you definitely knew it was a diesel engine.
“The Pajero Sport just reinforced what I already knew – I really am not a fan of big 4WDs.”
The 2.4-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel has plenty of grunt and is fairly smooth but is not the quietest in its segment.
The eight speed automatic transmission is very smooth and well matched to the 133kW/450Nm power plant.
While it is a combination that feels at home in the urban environment the performance is not exactly sporty.
Mitsubishi has positioned the Pajero Sport as a vehicle that is equally at home in the urban environment as it is off-road, but the ride is not as comfortable on the black top as many of its competitors.
The steering is relatively light and the turning circle tight enough to make parking, even in small suburban shopping centre carparks uneventful.
While we did not have an opportunity to take it off road, from previous experience I can confidently say that it has the off-road capabilities to get you most places.
It also has a 3100kg tow capacity making it ideal for towing a caravan or boat. Fuel economy is pretty good, we used 9.2L/100km during the test which was all done in the metropolitan area.
We don’t have a section on styling in these reviews because, well to be honest, my opinion in this regard really does not matter. But the rear end of the Pajero Sport is polarising to say the least.
That aside, it is a good value proposition that is well finished inside and out.
It is reasonably comfortable to drive and offers good safety for the family. Cargo space, especially on the five-seater we tested, is impressive as is its off-road capabilities and towing capacity.
So if you are a family that owns a boat or caravan or enjoys getting away off the beaten track but still wants a comfortable city vehicle then it is a good option.
Holden Colorado Trailblazer LT
Price: $47,990 RRP
Engine/Transmission: 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel (147kW/500Nm) with six-speed automatic transmission.
Based on the Colorado Ute, the Trailblazer cabin is bit more utilitarian than the Pajero Sport and it offers more cargo space. To get the leather seats and driver assist technology offered in the Pajero Sport, you need to step up to LTZ model and stump up another $4500.
Isuzu MU-X LS-M
Price: $50,200 RRP
Engine/Transmission: 3.0-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel (130kW/430Nm) with six-speed automatic transmission.
Another that fits more comfortably into the workhorse rather than luxury category. The mid-spec model is well equipped and another ute-based wagon with a big cargo – the biggest in this comparison. The 3.0-litre engine generates similar performance figures to the Pajero Sport. Pitfalls are no driver assist technology and no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
Ford Everest 3.2 Ambiente (5-seater)
Price: $52,990 RRP
Engine/Transmission: 3.2-litre five-cylinder turbo diesel engine (143kW/470Nm) with six-speed automatic transmission.
The Everest, based on the Ranger Ute, offers slightly more power and grunt than the Pajero Sport and similar tow capacity. Inside the cargo area is smaller. It is also more expensive, despite being the base model, and does not come with driver assist technology available in the Pajero Sport.
- Price: $48,500 RRP
- Warranty: Five year/100,000km
- Servicing: 12 months/15,000km. Capped for three years at $400 (15,000km), $475 and $550.
- Fuel Consumption: 8.0L/100km (official) 9.2L/100km (during test)
- Engine: 2.4-litre four-cylinder inter-cooled turbo diesel
- Power: 133kW/430Nm
- Transmission: Eight-speed automatic. Also has Mitsubishi’s Super Select II 4WD system.
- Visit HBF for a tailored insurance quote
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