- Excellent off-road ability
- Industry best warranty
- Surprisingly comfortable ride quality
- No active safety tech
- Noisy and slow
- Feels its age
Robust, capable and tough. These are words that are synonymous of Mitsubishi’s largest SUV: the Pajero. The Pajero has been in production in its current body shape since 2006 – and its platform dates back to before 2000 – which makes it comfortably one of the oldest new cars on the market. 15 years is a long time for a model to stay in production remaining largely unchanged, so has Mitsubishi done enough to keep it fresh? We find out with the 2021 Mitsubishi Pajero GLS.
The 2021 model year will be the last for the current generation of Pajero – and indeed the Pajero nameplate. Of course, the slightly smaller but significantly more modern Pajero Sport continues in the Mitsubishi range carrying the large SUV flag. For the 2021 model year, the Pajero range is offered in just three variants: the entry-level GLX, mid-spec GLS that we tested and the top-spec Exceed – though a Final Edition is due soon as well.
Price & Specs: 7/10
The 2021 Mitsubishi Pajero range kicks off with the $54,490 (plus on-roads) entry-level GLX, which comes with a six-speaker sound system, a 7.0-inch touch screen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth and an auxiliary input, digital radio, single-zone climate control, HID headlights with halogen high beam, front and rear fog lights and LED daytime running lights, 17-inch alloy wheels, an alarm, a leather steering wheel and shift knob, heated and electric-folding mirrors, front and rear power windows, cruise control, a full-size alloy spare wheel and a trip computer as standard.
Standard safety tech across the board is pretty scarce. There are six airbags, stability and traction control, electronic stability control, a reversing camera and auto high beam.
Stepping up to the 2021 Mitsubishi Pajero GLS that we tested here adds rear parking sensors, auto lights and wipers, heated and power-operated front seats, a rear spoiler, larger 18-inch wheels and a superior 12-speaker Rockford Fosgate sound system. All of this extra equipment does come at a cost though: the Pajero GLS comes in at $59,990 plus on road costs (a $5,500 increase over the GLX).
The range-topping Pajero Exceed is $62,990 plus on road costs and then adds a sunroof, leather upholstery, a ‘premium’ alarm, chrome window surrounds and aluminium pedals.
Rivals to the 2021 Mitsubishi Pajero are the Toyota Land Cruiser Pardo (Prado GXL is $66,540), Jeep Grand Cherokee (Night Eagle diesel is $65,950), as well as the current crop of seven-seat versions of dual-cab utes like the Toyota Fortuner and Mitsubishi Pajero Sport. The Pajero may be cheaper than these offerings but it is also more dated and misses out active safety kit and modern features like wireless charging and keyless entry.
As standard, the Pajero comes with one colour called ‘White Solid’ – it featured on our test car. For an additional $740, you can choose from ‘Pitch Black’, ‘Deep Bronze’, ‘Graphite Grey’, ‘Terra Rossa’, ‘Sterling Silver’ and ‘Warm White’.
Performance & Economy: 6/10
The sole engine option in the 2021 Mitsubishi Pajero range is a 3.2-litre turbocharged diesel four cylinder that produces 141kW of power and 441Nm of torque. Compare this to the recently-upgraded 150kW and 500Nm 2.8-litre turbo diesel from the Land Cruiser Prado and you can see that on paper the Prado trumps the Pajero for power and torque. The standard and only transmission available is a five-speed torque converter automatic, which is smooth, though it is very lethargic.
When accelerating onto a freeway or up to speed the engine in the Pajero does get quite vocal although once you are at speed it quietens down. The lethargic nature of the transmission makes the Pajero feel slow, and with a claimed 0-100km/h of above 12 seconds, it really is slow. More grunt would definitely be useful, but the newer Pajero Sport feels barely any quicker – it too, could use more performance.
Mitsubishi claim that the fuel consumption of the 2021 Mitsubishi Pajero GLS is 9.1L/100km on a combined cycle – our testing with a mixture of highway and city driving gave us a figure of 9.7L/100km, which is pretty close to the claim. Mitsubishi’s own Pajero Sport has a claimed figure of 8.0L/100km from its smaller and newer 2.4L diesel – though we’ve never gotten close to that in our testing. Under 10L/100km for the big Pajero is respectable, especially for its age.
Ride & Handling: 7/10
The 2021 Mitsubishi Pajero has a surprisingly soft ride. Thanks to its monocoque chassis – and not a ladder frame like other heavy off-roaders – the Pajero is surprisingly comfortable around town. It takes bumps well, and its body control is reasonable for such a big car. For an off road vehicle that is capable of taking seven people into the sticks, the Pajero does ride well when heading down the freeway as well – shame about the massive road noise levels.
The 2021 Mitsubishi Pajero isn’t known for it’s handling and while it isn’t sports car like it does stand on its own. There is body roll when cornering but that’s too be expected in a tall, large 4×4. The steering is heavy but offers more feel than – especially – the Prado, and while the brakes are wooden in feel, they stop well.
The Pajero’s 4×4 classification means that it is capable of getting off the beaten track. It comes with a centre differential, differential locks, auto-locking free wheeling hubs, a front stabiliser bar, independent front and rear suspension and a front skid plate as standard. It also features the company’s ‘SuperSelect II’ four-wheel drive system with high- and low-range gearing.
When it comes to towing, the Pajero can tow a maximum 3,000kg – but up to 2,500kg, it carries a 250kg ball limit and at 3,000kg, the limit drops to 180kg.
Interior & Practicality: 6/10
Even when the current shape Pajero was released in 2006, its interior wasn’t at the top of the class. Although Mitsubishi has made little subtle changes over the years to make it a little more modern – like adding a colour touch screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto – it’s definitely not modern. The materials – even the grain of the dashboard plastics – are dated and hard, the steering wheel buttons are old and the seats are flat.
The 7.0-inch colour touch screen that comes as standard in the Pajero is best described as adequate. It has shortcut keys to each side of the screen to help user friendliness, but there is a delay from when you touch them to when the screen reacts, which can be a little frustrating on the move. The other aspects of the screen are as you would expect – there are colourful tiles to navigate between the functions and the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are clear and easy to access.
The dials remain largely unchanged from the Pajero’s release, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. They are clear and easy to read, although there is still no digital speedometer and the trip computer is strangely located on the dash above the centre screen.
The second row of seating is adjustable for both slide and recline, making it easy to get comfortable and there is also a rear centre armrest. There are also rear air conditioning controls, which helps comfort. The third row isn’t as roomy as the second row and the only feature there are cupholders. The third row does fold into the boot floor when not in use giving more cargo space – and you can remove it altogether, leaving a huge box under the boot floor.
The boot of the 2021 Mitsubishi Pajero GLS can accommodate a few grocery bags when all three rows are in use but once the third row is stowed away there is a huge 1,069-litres of cargo space – a Prado only has 620-litres of cargo space. Once you fold the second row down in the Pajero the cargo space opens up to a massive 1,789-litres.
Service & Warranty: 9.5/10
Mitsubishi currently has the best warranty out of any manufacturer in Australia. The 2021 Mitsubishi Pajero comes with the brand’s ten-year, 200,000km warranty, which is much better than the five-year warranty offered by competitors. There is also 10 years worth of roadside assistance, although with purchase you only get 12 months – this is extended by a further 12 months with every scheduled service through a Mitsubishi dealer for up to ten years.
Servicing the 2021 Mitsubishi Pajero comes along every 12 months or 15,000km. The cost of servicing a Pajero over three years or 45,000km comes in at $1,697, which isn’t cheap. For comparison, servicing a Toyota LandCruiser Prado occurs every 10,000km or six-months and at a three year cost of $1,560. Servicing the Pajero over five-year or 75,000km comes in at $3,295.
2021 Mitsubishi Pajero GLS DiscoverAuto Rating: 7.1/10
Australians love a capable seven-seat SUV, so we should all be mourning the death of the Pajero. There is plenty to miss about the Pajero – its spacious interior, low entry price and capable 4×4 system. There are although quite a lot of drawbacks to the Pajero such as the lack of active safety tech, its ageing design and its lethargic engine, we wish that more could’ve been done with the Pajero name to keep the legend going.
Here at DiscoverAuto, we do love a capable SUV, but for us there are better options on the market than the 2021 Mitsubishi Pajero GLS: chiefly, the Pajero Sport, which manages to be even more capable off the beaten track, much more modern, better equipped and with a newer engine that’s also more efficient. It’s clear that the Pajero Sport is the replacement for the long-running Pajero – perhaps the next one will revert to the Pajero name? Whatever the case, that would be our choice for a large and capable off-roader for a reasonable asking price.