By on December 18, 2014

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Recently I went car shopping with a friend. We were looking at cars I’d rather not check out, but that struck his fancy . While crossovers were initially at the top of his list, he ended up with a 2010 Mitsubishi Pajero, which you may know as the Montero. Being Brazil a Portuguese-speaking countries, Mitsubishi found it safe to use the Japanese market name – in Spanish, it means something naughty.

Looking for all the world like the SUV it is, the Pajero has been a force to be reckoned with in Brazil. Mitsubishi is a brand that survived the thinning out of Japanese brands when the Market opened up in the 90s. Back then everybody came. Mazda (unfortunately), Suzuki (though it’s trying again now), Daihatsu, among others I can’t remember, didn’t make it. The usual trio of suspects did, as did Mitsubishi.

In the case of the three diamond company they did it by going full 4×4 here. Little by little, cars ceased to be offered. In that way they became associated with off-roading and, in a cruel twist of image so common in underdeveloped countries, with luxury.

When my friend called me all enthused saying he had found the “perfect” one, I was a little hesitant. He was happy because the car he was looking at was a very common silver and had low mileage (34,000 km for a 4-year old car, now almost 5). My hesitation came from driving previous Mitsubishi products. The Pajero Io or TR, always felt like it wasn’t properly aligned at speeds above 100 km/h. The L200? So noisy and slow. Plus, like I said, many here confuse it with a luxury product. I was afraid my friend did, too.

When we arrived at the place, her owner was waiting for us. A good sign as she was a she. A woman using this car would do it for school runs and mall visiting, nothing off-roadsy. As a general view of course. Talking to her confirmed our impression. She said she was divorced and the car was titled to her name. The paint still shone, and it was easy to see the interior had been detailed. I got under the car and could see no unusual scratches or anything that’d indicate off-roading.

Took it for a spin, decided it was good. Took it to a mechanic, he declared it good. Money changed hands and that was that. As is the case for this kind of car in Brazil, it was a lot. 71,000 reais of my friend’s hard-earned money. As the exchange rate is hovering around USD$1=R$2.5, you can do the math.

Getting inside, it is the typical Japanese fair. The interior would probably look better in a 90s product, though it is well screwed together. The materials do not impress. On top of the dash is a very thin rubber finishing. Quite hard, at least it’s softer than plastic. There is some sort of plastic possibly trying to imitate wood around the instrument binnacle. There is an insert of perforated leatherette on the door breaking that vast expanse of plastic. The vanity mirrors in both sun visors are among the smallest I’ve seen, but I guess they do their job. The mouse fur on the ceiling is good enough, not too grainy and a light color, which helps the sensation of airiness. All windows have auto up and down, though only the driver’s is marked. All others, a drab slab of black plastic. At least the tactile sensation is not notchy, though not silky either.

The seats were quite comfortable too and offer a wide variety of positions. You get to these positions by manual levers of course. There is not a lot of bolstering, but as this car’s function is to confront the urban jungle, I mean the Sahara, it’s not too bad. The leather of course is false, but there is some variation and the sides have a different pattern than the middle. In the back it is not so good. The backs of the seats are very short and a very large section of metal appears. I have never seen a car with that much open space. The floor back there is quite high too, so not the best place to sit for a long drive.

Talking about good things the trunk is huge, officially rated at over 900L. Again, there is a mishap. No lid. Not a good thing in this country. The best thing in the interior is the wheel, I decide. Plastic, but with a nice texture, it is thick and decent sized, being the best place to lay your hands in the interior.

So now the drive. Inside the limitations of the segment, it is decent. The Pajero boast a 2.5 HPE diesel engine with intercooler good for a little over 150 hp. On the go, with the windows closed, vibrations are contained as is noise. This is a good thing, as outside it still sounds like a bus. At least in Brazil self-service gas stations are outlawed, so the owner will never get the stinky fuel on his hands or clothes. Torque is221 lb-ft  at a low 2000 rpm. Bellying that number and speaking from my experience, you need to rev the thing to get it moving. Most especially in this region of Brazil, Minas Gerais, which is a very mountainous state.

What is not decent is the placement of the gear levels. In my day with it I went to some places with a lot of hills to test the torque and drivability. As a result I spent a lot of time in second gear. Being this Pajero a 5-speed manual car, the position of second gear was simply unacceptable. Once engaged, it eats into my thigh, forcing me to dive with my legs straight ahead and not a little bit open like I usually do. I think this a result of a quickie changeover of the driver’s side, as in Japan they drive on the “wrong” side just like the British. Being that here we adopt the same positioning as most of the world, this would render the possibility of buying this car for myself non-existent.

Once on the move and up to speed it can go quite fast and will keep speed rather effortlessly. I was a bit hesitant to push it over 140 km/h though as at those speeds the car is weaving and bobbing. I slowed down for curves, quite a bit, making it necessary to step on it to make it recoup lost speed. Then, the engine does get intrusive. Spacious enough for a family of 4, the noise and spongy suspension do not make it my kind of car for a sortie to the beach.

This Pajero uses Mitsubishi’s Easy Select transfer case. This means you can go from 2 High to 4 High at speeds of up to 100 km/h. Engaging 4 Low does require almost a full stop. This is where Mitsubishi has built its reputation in Brazil. Off-roaders love them and deem it competent. For normal city use, this system requires compromises that most seem willing to make. Heavy, the 4 wheel drive system takes that much more out of the enjoyment of the car but within the limits of its BOF construction, again, decent.

Due to its slab sides and ample windows, sight lines are good. Again, a good thing, as this is a big car for the spaces available in Brazilian cities. The steering is light and numb, which is what most owners would like anyway. Under normal conditions the car doesn’t threaten to roll over off course, but it is not made for speed. It is much better handling than 90s era SUVs in this sense, but most drivers, as they are not going off-road anyway, would be better served by a crossover. A Dodge Journey/Fiat Freemont has this beast beat in the handling department as possibly has Mitsubishi’s own ASX.

When talking of these cars, people like me who don’t get them always ask: Why? So I asked the happy owner. I know he doesn’t have a farm and has never expressed an interest in off-roading. He said he couldn’t exactly pinpoint it, but it gave him a feeling of satisfaction. After many years of hard work, he got a car that told him he’d made it. Also, it was not a Mercedes so he didn’t feel too uneasy about potential violence or kidnapping. I get the sensation this a prime reason for this kind of car in Brazil. It’s big, it’s imposing, it’s “imported”, but it’s not a BMW. People will look, but won’t necessarily put you on their kidnap list.

For 70,000 thousand reais there are much better cars out there. Big cars, medium cars (talking real cars here), which will all give you more performance, a better ride and even possibly lower running costs as the high cost of insuring diesel trucks in Brazil all but guarantee the fuel savings will be annulled. In our world though none of them give you the presence of a big SUV or CUV and I can respect that. As I saw him pulling up and away from my garage, wheels squealing at the incline and sharp turn, I realized once again, it takes all kinds.

 

 

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48 Comments on “Dispatches Do Brasil: 2010 Mitsubishi Pajero Sport...”


  • avatar
    50merc

    As Yamaha once said about its 2-cycle motorcycles, “different strokes for different folks”.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    “in Spanish, it means something naughty.”

    So, I’ve heard… lol

    Another one for, “What were they thinking?”

  • avatar
    sirwired

    $28.5k USD for a used Montero? Diesel or no, that’s a lot. We really do have it good here in the US. At least this one is low-miles.

  • avatar
    brenschluss

    What does the Brazilian flag button do?

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    So this is the same truck sold here as the Montero Sport until 2004. Over here they have almost exclusively descended into the Buy here Pay here beaterdom, and many were originally bought by people with less than stellar credit.

    Mitsubishi’s answer to the venerable 4Runner, the high floor-low roof formula is copied. Unlike the Tacoma based 4Runner which has rear coils starting with the 3rd generation, the Montero sport kept the L200’s leaf springs like the Frontier->Xterra transformation.

    Never sold with diesels, just 3.0 and 3.5L SOHC V6 engines. Nothing catastrophically wrong with them, they burn some oil as they age and leak it pretty prodigiously from the back of the valve cover. Corrosion related issues that affect fuel and brake lines, as well as the body.

    In the used market place here, they make sense for people that want a capable 4×4 but don’t have used 4Runner money to spend. Aftermarket is tiny compared to Toyota’s, but Old Man Emu makes lift kits.

    • 0 avatar

      Here they have about the same reputation as the Hilux, though they are a bit less reliable. Mitsubishi has done a good job supporting their line here. You know your 4x4s so that is valuable info thanks.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        I think of Mitsubishi and Isuzu 4x4s in the US along the lines of our dear Mr. Lang’s “hit’em where they ain’t” strategy of buying the undervalued and ignored brands. They are every bit as capable, just not as supported by owners groups and aftermarket brands as they are overseas. Australia in particular loves their Pajeros. The pick of the litter is the full-size Montero, especially the older BOF ones are a legitimate alternative to a Toyota LandCruiser in just about every way. Coil springs all around, very beefy axles and drivetrain. The newer unibody trucks with independent rear suspension are also very capable, despite what what nay-sayers would have you believe. That scoffed-at IRS is a Dakar winning setup.

        Personally, I ended up with a 4Runner just because I did want to spend that extra up front to have access to plentiful and cheap parts, a very well studied and supported chassis here in the US, and a very nicely executed interior. They also tend to have just a few less issues than the other trucks, although at 18 years old it slowly becomes a moot point. My 4Runner is getting all new control arm bushings over the holidays, to the tune of $700 once all the labor is factored in.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          I don’t really agree with the assertion that Isuzu is an alternative with hit-em-where-not offerings. The Axiom and Ascender models suffered big time in the reliability area, and the Trooper has a glass transmission that fails every 60k. The Rodeo rusted and had electrical and engine woes.

          The only decent one (because they are rare and well-kept) is probably the VehiCROSS.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            Ascender is just a low blow lol, Trailblazer based junk. Indiana built Rodeos I agree are known to be nothing but trouble, including a recall for the rear trailing arms rusting off. GM 4L30E transmissions: no arguements here!

            But with the MUA5 manual, those troopers will go the distance. 99-02 DOHC 3.5 can have oil burning problems, but the older 3.2L trucks are rock solid. So I should have included an asterisk next to my earlier post, but it further reinforces the concept of a bad perception due to the US-built Rodeos and bad automatic transmissions lowering the resale of some perfectly good trucks, namely the Japanese built Troopers with the stick shift.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            What about the Axiom, you forgot to include that in the awful acknowledgement! LOL

            But really, how many JPN made manual Troopers are there? Not many.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            Axiom I believe had the same 3.5L DOHC engine, but now with a beta-test version of Direct injection! I bet that’s all sorts of fun for the owner to deal with.

            Interestingly, the Axiom was knocked off by the chinese to form the basis of their ‘Hover’ series SUVs.

            And I’d say the ‘good’ troopers (and first gen Rodeos) come up on craigslist with some regularity, and thankfully many of those that do are equipped with 5spds. My guess is that many of the automatic trucks are in junkyards by now.

            here’s a 5 second search on my local craigslist:

            linkhttp://indianapolis.craigslist.org/cto/4797350624.html

            linkhttp://indianapolis.craigslist.org/cto/4791414670.html

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I didn’t know about the DI on the Axiom. Good thing they only sound 15 of them anyway. I couldn’t believe when I saw they basically shoved the Rodeo interior in there, which was seriously outdated by the time.

            The problem with getting a manual Trooper is that you couldn’t really get one with power anything or leather! The one you wanted was the 3.5 L (Limited) version with leather, wood, and big sunroof.

            Of course you could opt for the SLX (LOL).

            BTW, I test drove a 97 IIRC Montero couple years ago, and I came away very impressed at how comfortable it was, even though it had not been particularly well maintained.

          • 0 avatar

            I think the off road community still loves Isuzu and Mitsubishi. Yes they have more problems then the 4runner but you pay a lot less. 4runners are not perfect either (lots of rust and on certain years rear spring issues) but if price were equal I would go for the 4runner. I kind of want a trooper or a Montero (full size never really liked the sport) thou and if you go on the forums like expedition portal you will here plenty of guys with well over 2-300k miles on troopers and monteros.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      And even in 2004, the Montero Sport was very outclassed and outdated. I can’t believe the same car is still for sale in Brazil, with a slightly modified front and rear clip (hideous, IMO).

      They were never as comfortable or rock-solid as the 4Runner, or as reliable. They looked alright in the later iterations and Limited trim. Especially in pearl white.

      This version!
      http://o.aolcdn.com/commerce/images/mitsubishi_03monterosport_angularrear_Large.jpg

      • 0 avatar

        This is one of the few, thankfully by now, classic examples of cars not being made elsewhere anymore and thus having their tooling sent here and onto a prolongued life.

        That being said, Mitsubishi does have a local engineering team and they have messed with the car a lot. Yes, there are limitis to what they can do, but having this car way back then, nowadays it has been improved and rolls along with more confidence than before.

        My sincere evaluation of it is just that, not bad, but not great either.

        • 0 avatar
          MK

          These trucks have been produced for so long that they’re very well-sorted. My wife has owned the US spec 2004 Montero Sport AWD, 3.5L gas version since 2005 and has put about 140,000 miles on it with very minor repairs only in the last year or two. (radiator started leaking $100, IAC valve $200, etc.) The oil leak they all develop from the back of the valve cover is actually a small cam bearing cover plate where the o-ring cracks. It only takes about 10 minutes to fix this and for less than $2.

          Sure it’s a body on frame truck and it’s not as refined as a more modern car but another interesting data point on their durability is that you still see a LOT of these things running around even though the NEWEST one in the US is from 2004. They’ll be beat-up and often are in the ‘hood (see BHPH comment up above) BUT they’re still running even with that kind of abuse.

          We did a lot of research before buying it and the 4runner was definitely a little nicer but it wasn’t 35% nicer which is what the cost difference was at the time. Long term ownership has borne out that this was a wise decision for us.

          It hauls a lot, the ride height and visibility is very good, it’s quite capable in the rain, snow and heat and it’s just been an all-around great vehicle. Mitsubishi gets beat up on the internet but when I was in Rio a few years ago you saw Pajeros all over town in some of the nicer areas. Glad to see Mitsu is continuing to develop them but I doubt we’ll ever see them here again which is too bad. They were a very good value (although that dash is exactly the same as my wife’s from ’04 except hers is an auto with gear indicator in the center).

          I think your buddy made a good decision.

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    That taillight treatment is terrible. Looks like something a person who was too cheap to buy the correct replacement taillight would do would do. Make a panel to fill the hole where the factory taillight was so that you can fit some trailer lights from the auto parts store.

  • avatar

    Hey Marcelo, did you get my email? Wanted to run something by you…

    [email protected]

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    When did they stop making this Pajero Sport version in Brazil?

    I’m not surprised Mitsu is more popular there with their diesel engines. There are many old Mitsu diesels running around in South Korea too – in Hyundai/Kia products.

    The Montero Sport in the US got many of the same interior bits as the PRIOR generation full-size Montero, while the Montero moved on to a much better interior with the 02-06 version. The full-size Montero was certainly the most reliable Mitsubishi product sold in the US, since it wasn’t made at DSM.

    Is the full-size Pajero a big seller there? Do you all get the Pajero two door? I always liked the Shogun name used in parts of Europe.

    Edit: Answered my own question. Yes you get the “Pajero Full 3D.” I’m jealous a bit.

    • 0 avatar

      Two door cars are rare, except in base segments. Though the Io had them, I don’t think the current TR has ever had them.

      I could be wrong, but in a way they still exist. It is now called Pajero Dakar. Like the Sport, it is the SUV version of the L200 or L200 Triton pick up.

      As far as when they stopped making the exact version pictured, I guess maybe 3 years ago. This one always follows the pick up.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Looks like you can equip the Full 3D in regular or 3.2L diesel for R$ 185.990,00.

        http://www.mitsubishimotors.com.br/wps/portal/mit/areas/veiculos/familiapajero/pajerofull3d/PajeroFull3D/PajeroFull3D2015

        I like the metal PAJERO interior sill plates.

        Is that a lot of money for such a car in BR?

      • 0 avatar

        Its how much they go for. Check the Dodge site. The Durango goes for even more. If you put in another 60k the Evoque is yours. And on and on.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          By the final Montero Limited model, they were up to about $47000 here (don’t think there were any options except a free sunroof delete in exchange for rear DVD).

          But that’s why they didn’t sell many, nobody wanted to spend that on a Mitsu.

          • 0 avatar
            JayDub

            Do you mean the 2006 Montero Limited model in the U.S.? I paid $31,500 new. That was $500 over invoice. Eight years later, my trusty Monty has 135,000 miles on the odometer, and is still in great condition. Next week I’m replacing the (OEM) struts and shocks for the first time, even though I off-road a ton. For the price, I really cannot think of another V6 4wd SUV that could replace it. Bring on the new Montero for the U.S.!

  • avatar
    EAF

    I would definitely purchase the Montero, over its competition, for daily driving duties and occasional light off-roading endeavors. Not at $28k though, that price is borderline insane.

    All of my DSM and Mitsubishi vehicles inevitably consumed an excessive amount of oil, it was always attributed to cheap valve stem seals.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      You must keep in mind that a new 3-door Pajero diesel is $88,000USD

      • 0 avatar
        EAF

        I was thinking more along the lines of a 2003 Montero for $3k! At this price point it is significantly less expensive than other competitors from ’03; Pathfinder, Cherokee, 4Runner, Exploder, Xterra, etc.

        $88k No wayyyyyy!!!!!

        • 0 avatar
          MK

          Jeezus!
          For a 2004 model Montero Sport (auto, AWD/4WD, mid-trim XLS, with 18,000 miles) we paid USD $17,000 in 2005 (!!!).

          current asking prices are around USD $6000 or so (but we don’t get the diesel versions).

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I have owned one Mitsubishi product, a Mighty Max pickup, and while it was not bad there are other brands I prefer. The parts were hard to get and more expensive than a Toyota and that was even when the truck was 2 years old. If Mitsubishi disappeared from the market it would hardly be noticed.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Do they even make a Montero for the USA anymore? I thought the Outlander was their only suv/cuv offering in the USA. Mitsubishi is a dead brand walking. The Mirage is their newest offering which is not saying much.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    That’s what I thought, they have few models available in the US. I wonder how well their electric car is doing? Losing the Chrysler connection has hurt them.

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