After publishing my owner review of my family's 2016 Mazda CX-9 and seeing all the positive feedback it sparked, I decided to write another owner review.
If you didn't get around to reading that review, my name is Jordan and I'm 14 years old. I have a massive interest in cars, and my dream job is to become a motoring journalist. But, for now I'm stuck with reviews of my parents cars, and thankfully CarAdvice – Australia’s best motoring website – offer the amazing owner reviews where I can write to my heart's content. So, here we go…
Our old 2013 Nissan Navara ST has been killed off and now, a new life has been born in our car family. Opening the garage door, we now see the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport sitting alongside our family hauler - the Mazda CX-9.
We also have our beautiful Aussie classics, two LJ Toranas; both of which are in restoration, and a Ford XT Falcon GT.
Now, I can hear you saying: “Wait, hold on a minute; you bought an SUV to replace your completely fine ute?”
Well, read on to find out why.
See, when I began researching what ute to buy next, I was immediately thinking we needed a ute that can tow our boat, fit our family and two large Rottweilers in the back, while being technologically advanced and most importantly, safe.
All 4x4 dual-cab utes sold in this country fit this criteria, except for the latter two which are harder to come across. That meant that the recently launched Great Wall Steed was crossed off the list, same goes for the Foton Tunland.
Now, I was left with Nissan Navara ST-X, Mitsubishi Triton Exceed, Holden Colorado LTZ, Ford Ranger XLT, and the new Volkswagen Amarok V6 Highline. My pick was the Holden Colorado, as it was a great package and alternative to the dearer rivals.
But, of course we never looked at the Colorado, and that's my fault.
One day, I was watching YouTube videos about the Colorado when I came across the CarAdvice video comparing the Pajero Sport and Holden Trailblazer. After not thinking much about it, I continued to look at the Colorado. Then, I was interested – how can these cars can do everything a ute can do, yet be as versatile and comfortable as a passenger car.
After that, my random discussion about the Holden Colorado while my parents were talking about something completely unrelated to cars changed to the Pajero Sport. Needless to say, they were intrigued – and the Pajero Sport earned itself a place in our garage.
However, before the buying process, anyone researching a car should look at other cars in the segment and I did just that. But, the Pajero Sport still come out on top; well, the Ford Everest actually did, but we would need an extra $25k and for that money, we could buy a brand new small car.
Now, before SUV haters insult us for buying one, consider these facts: 1) We never used a ute for utility purposes, and often couldn’t fit things in the back (it had a canopy); 2) While I tried to find a wagon, unfortunately none could fit the criteria and finally Skoda don’t make a ute, or 4x4 SUV derivative.
So far, it has been a month since the day we took our baby home and the Paj’ Sport has already acclaimed over 1500km. The car has had a few minor issues, but has been reliable. If something went wrong, it's great that Mitsubishi offers a class-leading five-year/100,000km warranty, which is a great assurance as you know Mitsubishi believes its product will last.
The engine is quiet, at least from the perspective of having a Navara previously, and being largely based on the Triton ute engine and chassis. The average fuel economy usually sits around 8.5-9.0L which is close to the claimed figure of 8.0L/100km.
In terms of driving, the suspension irons out most bumps and the steering is agile (for the size and type of the vehicle). However, it is a bit jumpy over some humps and bumps on the road, but not enough to spill your coffee.
Styling the Pajero Sport is the new Mitsubishi ‘Dynamic Shield’ front fascia. It is a nice design, if not a tad bit chrome heavy, but in our particular vehicle, it has been covered with the tough-looking ARB Summit bull-bar.
Our car is painted in the most popular Titanium grey. We chose this colour because it looks similar to our CX-9 in Machine Grey. The Pajero Sport sits very high and the usually decorative side steps still make it difficult to get in and out. It certainly isn’t afraid to say “I’m an off-roader”.
While I hated the rear design, I have become used to it, and it actually doesn’t look that bad. Still not a great design, though. In my opinion, the rear on the Fortuner would match the Paj Sport perfectly as it has various similarities to the Outlander and even ASX. Same goes for Eclipse Cross, but that's a different story.
Also, the tow bar is strangely positioned and is a separate component to the car, it looks like Mitsubishi has gone “Oh no, we forgot about the tow bar; quick just get this and put it under the car”.
The cabin is simple, but in a good way. Sure, it may not have a large touchscreen or soft-touch plastics, but it makes sense. It has the ‘Mitsubishi’ feel where minimal corners have been cut to save as much $ as possible, such as no hand grip for the rear seats and blank buttons, which is annoying.
What's best about the interior is the material used for the leather seats. They are the most comfortable seats I have ever sat on in a car; it almost feels like we have taken what should be the actual seats out and put couches in. If anybody thinks these seats are uncomfortable, the car needs to go back to the dealer ASAP.
One annoying niggle we have found is the automatic door lock system. I understand why this system exists: to reduce carjacking and ultimately protect you and your car, and I welcome that wholeheartedly, but they don't unlock when the car is in park and the engine is off.
Passengers have to flick the lock before opening, yet the driver doesn't! And, when opening the driver's door it doesn't unlock the others. Also, if the car's on accessory mode, the boot won't open unless you turn the car off, lock it and unlock it again. Within two weeks, the car was brought back to the dealer and they changed the setting so that the doors unlock when the car goes into Park.
Some technological features the Pajero Sport has include a 7.0-inch infotainment system with the ever-so-popular Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well as DAB+ digital radio along with the standard FM/AM radio, no CD player though – which is becoming the standard, and is fine for me, but may be annoying for people a bit older.
The display is bright, easy to read and simple to use, albeit with amateur looking graphics and no embedded sat-nav, which is quite strange for a near $50,000 car. The "Warning, ensure you read the safety manual" message on start-up is annoying when you have to press Accept. It should be like other systems where it disappears after 5-10 seconds.
As previously mentioned, the car comes with no sat-nav, but has GPS sensors? Apparently it's to boost the maps connection on your phone's CarPlay/Android Auto, but, still annoying.
Overall, it's a great system and hopefully Mitsubishi improves some minor issues in revisions to the Pajero Sport, Pajero, Triton, Outlander and upcoming ASX update, all of which share the same system.
Also, the Pajero Sport gets a nifty off-road ‘Super Select II system'. It works well and efficiently on the fly, and the car can be driven in 4x4 full time without it being in high/low range or without any differential lock. The Jeep Grand Cherokee like Terrain Select system seems handy, but we haven’t had a chance to test it out yet.
It’s great the Pajero Sport comes with seven seats standard on the GLS and Exceed, and, at no price increase from the 2016 model which did not have the extra row of seats, it’s great value. But, for buyers like my family who already have a seven-seater, that being the Mazda CX-9, and retirees who want to take it around the country with the ’van for example, it should really be a no-cost option, considering that it eats into the boot space and has an overly large load-lip. We were contemplating buying the five-seat GLX but couldn't justify taking away the nice extra features available on the GLS model.
In conclusion, we are enjoying having the Pajero Sport in our garage and it is a great option for someone looking at a ute-based 4x4 SUV.
Stay tuned for more reviews of other cars from me in the future and feel free to leave a comment below. Your feedback is greatly appreciated!