When the last of the kids left home, the wife and I looked around and decided to take contract positions in far-western Queensland. We quickly realised that we needed something more than our Eco-hatch; we needed a large roo-bar and spotlights. I found a demo Pajero Sport with both items and west we went.
The cargo capacity is very handy when moving house, and the air conditioning is a lifesaver when it's more than 45 degrees. On the highway it was quiet and comfortable and we both found the seats excellent even on long 12+ hour days.
Once west of Roma, trying to overtake triples and fast-moving B-doubles left me wishing for more power and torque, even on the long straights. The fuel economy was startlingly bad, and at around 400km we had to look and plan to refuel. Luckily after the first service the fuel consumption improved considerably, however clearly Japanese engineers have never driven out west, as the tank needs to be substantially larger.
Another irritating item is that the "entertainment" system relies on mobile coverage. This means that for the many hours of driving between towns there are no maps, no music, no nothing. This may not be an issue in downtown Tokyo but when west of the Great Divide, playing eye-spy for hours (when there is nothing to the horizon) is no fun. This is really annoying when we have hundreds of CD's we couldn't use as there is also no CD player. What made this even more frustrating is that the sound quality from the system is excellent.
However, the items I did appreciate were the tight (for a 4x4) turning circle, the reversing camera (a lifesaver for children and small cars), good visibility (front and side), the ground clearance and the 4x4 ability (even with HT tyres). We drove out to visit friends on a cattle station on several occasions and the "bronze beast" handled the hours of corrugations, washouts and loose sand with aplomb.
In our first 12 months we did over 40000km driving between nowhere and the great Australian FA. The Pajero Sport was wonderfully reliable, cool, and comfortable transport, which is exactly what we wanted way out west. However on the wish list is more power and torque (for the road trains, of which there are many), a much larger fuel tank (a range of 1200-1400km would very useful) and a CD player is a must.
For the rest, it was reliable, practical and we could shove lots of stuff in the back, including all the pets and the coffee machine - so it handled all the essentials. Would I recommend it? I certainly would.