Bang for buck the Pajero is the easily best allrounder for my money. It has everything I need does everything I want with ease. I looked at all of the other brands and for a family of 5 it ticked all the boxes for me. One of the key features was the comfy second row that can seat 3 people easily with heaps of leg and head room. The issue that turn me off the Prado cabin was that the middle position of the second row was horribly uncomfortable and like sitting on rock and no one is going to put up with that regardless how how good the rest of the vehicle is. Strangely, the second row in a dual cab HiLux is better than the Prado, its just not wide enough, nor have enough legroom to carry 5 people comfortably on a long road trip. In my opinion the seating in the Pajero is generally better than the others available. Except for the Discovery, but thats to be expected with the Landrover price tag.
The Pajero has a great diesel engine and I've achieved some amazing consumption figures like 6.7l/100 from the Blue Mountains to Sydney. On the highway with a moderate load it will eat up the miles with an average of 8.9l and towing an offroad camper, a full load in the rear, 5 occupants and a loaded cargo pod on top UP the Clyde Mountain from southcoast NSW still only averages 17l. After 30,000 kms covering a wide range of driving conditions including low range off road, the long term average is 11.6l. Pretty damm awesome in my opinion for a 4wd wagon.
Issues? Haven't had any.
The factory Yokohama Geolanders have performed surprisingly well but they are rapidly reaching the end of their serviceable lifespan already. Air-down and the Geo's do well off road (in the dry), don't bother with muddy tracks. However, throw on a set of Bridgestone Duelers or BF Goodies and the Pajero will get to all but the most extreme of locations in my experience. Want to go further, a 50mm suspension lift will be necessary.
The factory standard rear diff lock, locking center diff and traction assist work well in offroad conditions in combination with the 447Nm under the bonnet. Whatever you do, don't turn off the traction assist when driving on the road in the wet. In 2wd mode, those 447Nms find their way to the rear from very low revs and you will be pointing the wrong way before you know it. Leave it on and it will save your arse. Rightly or wrongly, I put it into 4wd in the wet and have never had a issue with handling, even when towing the camper across the mountains in heavy rain.
Service costs are standard and there is a huge range of aftermarket products available from all of the big suppliers if you want to bolt on a few extras.
Around town is easy to drive and doesn't feel like you are trying to park a Kenworth when you get to the shopping centre. Rear visibility is ok but like all large vehicles an extra head check is necessary. The GLX-R has a rear camera as standard to help with reversing.
The rear cargo area is huge and has 4 tie down points located in the corners as well as a 12v power socket. This area will fit a 65lt fridge with heaps of room to spare. I would say that the fridge only takes up 50-60% of the available floorspace. The 3rd of seats fold neatly into the floor and are easy setup and fold away. If you need extra carrying capacity, the 3rd row can be removed and the cavity can be used for storage. Bonus!
Not everyone will agree with me, but this is an honest summary of my experience with this vehicle over the past 18mths. Sure, some people will disagree and point out the differences with other vehicles. I know what they are, I did my homework and am not interested in getting into a debate over them. At the end of the day, the Pajero is affordable, capable, reliable, comfortable and does everything my family and I need it to do from the school run to the highway, out to the bush in low range and back again. On top of that, it has the best warranty in its class by a long shot.
Hope you enjoy yours as much as much as love driving mine.