Hey Blaire, lets get a track car!
After realising that a Swift Sport and an FTO can't tow another car, we came to the realisation that we would need to get a car that would be able to tow, thus beginning the hunt. We had roughly $8000 to spend, and after hours of looking through classifieds we came across this; a 2000 Mitsubishi Pajero Exceed with 215,000km on the clock. After testing driving it we knew it was the one (We paid $6000 with rego and RWC).
From the outside, I find the Pajero a fairly good-looking car. It's simple and square, and I actually like the two-tone paint with the large chrome mirrors. Some don't, but hey, they don't have to drive it.
Lets talk safety. It has ABS and two airbags.
On the inside everything is nicely laid out. The gauges are a nice size with everything clear to read. Towards the middle you have a small funky screen that displays the time, temperature and a compass, which can also be changed to show each wheel's speed (and surprisingly mine still works!). There is also your usual climate control dials and a double DIN head unit (an after-market addition, as in the standard offering you got a 6-disc stacker... OoO fancy) as well two cup-holders and a very large center console, which has two levels that can be slid back and forwards.
Moving to the passenger side, there are two gloveboxes, although whatever you have in the top one will just rattle and slide around, as there is has no material in it to stop this. In the middle row you have heaps of space with a second aircon and a centre armrest with cupholders. Jump into the third row and... well there are cup holders, a small storage nook and zero leg room. I'm 5-foot 5, and struggle to fit. Personally, I like most of the cabin, other than the black leather seats; they are freezing in winter and scorching in summer.
Boot space is huge. With the third row removed (or tucked away under the floor) there is plenty of space. I have made multiple Ikea trips without having to lower the second row. When the second row is tumbled forwards, there is heaps of space. My only dislike is that the boot door opens outwards instead of upwards, which makes it bad in small parks. It is also a heavy door (with the spare wheel on) but i assume that is why it doesn't go upwards on struts as you'd need some industrial-style ones to lift the thing. Oh, and there is no load cover, which means everything is exposed. Newer ones did get one though.
On the road the Pajero is what you expect; it's heavy, slow, thirsty and handles like a brick. Although in saying this, it is a comfortable brick, and on the freeway I would take it over my Swift any day. The steering is fairly light but a bit vague. Handling can be improved by putting it into AWD with the super select lever. I do drive the Pajero to work (Prahran) once or twice a week, and the fuel usage is about 2.5 times higher than the Swift and its about 50 times harder to find a park. But it is comfortable and the auto is much nicer in heavy traffic.
Off road is really where this car surprised me. I have standard road tyres on it and it has gotten me pretty far without hassle. My only problem was that my tow ball bottomed out once, but I removed it as soon as it happened. Other than that, I haven't had an issue.
So, the main reason we got this car: to tow. We have towed our track car a few times now without an issue. The Pajero sits at ease on the freeways (110km/h) and never misses a beat. A lot of people ask me why we didn't get the diesel, and honestly for how much we do actually tow, we couldn't justify the extra cost in both initial purchase plus maintenance.
The Pajero has been fairly reliable. We have carried out general service items - spark plugs (which was a huge PAIN), oil, filters, 02 sensor and fuel pump (which we chose to do, not because it needed to be done). There hasn't really been a day where it hasn't started. It does have some rattles though, which is expected from a 19-year old 4WD.
Improvement wise, I can't think of much other than what is said above. It has done everything I've expected it to, for an older 4WD.