2012 Mitsubishi Pajero VRX 3.2 Diesel Review

Ian Crawford | 16 Comments


What’s hot: Audio system, off-road ability
What’s not: No steering-wheel reach adjustment, ageing engine and styling
X-factor: That long-established reputation; proven tow-vehicle and off-road performance

Vehicle style: Medium 4WD SUV
Price: $70,890
Fuel economy (claimed): 9.0litres/100km


Mitsubishi’s Pajero SUV is one of those icons of the motoring world that seems to have been with us forever.

While the years are starting to show, especially in refinement, the Pajero can still hold its head high in the ‘heavy-duty’ 4x4 segment.

It’s tough, reliable and capable and can handle just about anything an Aussie family can throw at it.

To scrounge a bit more time before an all-new model arrives, Mitsubishi has upgraded the Pajero for 2012 with a raft of styling, safety and luxury-appointment changes.

There is a handsome new front bumper and radiator grille and new-look 18-inch alloys on the VRX and the top-spec Exceed models. We drove the heavily-specced $70,890 VRX for this review.


Quality: While the interior is a tad dated (like the rest of the Pajero), it’s functional enough. All 2012 model-year Pajeros feature new trim material and in the case of the VRX, it’s a combination of leather and ‘sports cloth’.

Aluminium sports pedals add to the ambience. There’s plenty of hard plastic but there’s still a feeling of quality to the fit and finish.

A debit however is that dash shook noticeably on corrugations.

Comfort: The heated front seats are well-shaped and bolstered, but the third-row seats are not flexible enough: they can be folded flat, but, unlike the second-row seats, can’t be split-folded.

The driver’s seat has ample eight-way movement as well as lumbar adjustment. However, the lack of steering-wheel reach adjustment is a real oversight in the VRX – I simply couldn’t get comfortable.

Equipment: The VRX’s standard kit includes 18-inch alloy wheels, Mitsubishi’s “Super Select” 4WD II system with a selectable 2WD mode, climate-control air-con, cruise control, central locking (including the tailgate), remote keyless-entry and power exterior mirrors with fold control.

Also standard is an electro-chromatic rear-vision mirror (that also houses the rear-view monitor), 12-speaker 860W Rockford Fosgate audio, rain-sensing wipers, dusk-sensing HID headlights with automatic levelling and washers, reverse-parking sensors and Bluetooth connectivity and data transfer.

Storage: There’s no shortage of useful cubby holes; these include six cup-and-bottle holders, glove box, centre-console bin, passenger seat-back pocket, front-and-rear door pockets and an underfloor compartment.

With the second- and third-row seats folded away, there is a cavernous 1758 litres of storage space.

Towing capacity: With a 3.0-tonne towing capacity, the Pajero can handle a big horse float, caravan or boat.


Driveability: Under the bonnet is Mitsubishi’s 3.2 litre DOHC common-rail intercooled turbo-diesel. It delivers a lusty 147kW of power at 3800rpm and 441Nm of torque – arriving at a lazy 2000rpm.

The engine is mated with a five-speed sequential-sports-shifting automatic transmission.

The Pajero’s age comes into focus so far as the engine is concerned, especially under acceleration. It is a tad truck-like and it has nowhere near the refinement of the latest Euro-diesels (the Germans and Range Rover pack).

Refinement: There is a fair degree of wind noise from around the large exterior mirrors and some harmonic drumming from the tyres on coarse bitumen. An 11.4-metre turning circle though is impressive for a vehicle of the Pajero’s size.

Suspension: The front-end is an independent, double-wishbone/coil spring set-up with stabiliser bar; at the rear, independent multi-link/coil-spring and stabiliser-bar.

The suspension controls things pretty well, on road and off. It delivers a reasonably firm ride and while there’s some evidence of body roll in tight cornering, it’s about what you’d expect from such a vehicle.

With 225mm of ground clearance, and wading depth of 700mm, the Pajero is up with the best of them for serious off-roading. Underneath is Mitsubishi’s superb Super Select 4WD II – it works brilliantly off-road – and also allows the driver to alternate between 2WD and 4WD modes at speeds of up to 100km/h.

Braking: Beefy ventilated disc all round give the VRX all the stopping power you need; even when towing large loads.


ANCAP: 5-Star rating

Safety features: Front driver and passenger, side and curtain airbags, Mitsubishi’s MATT all-terrain technology that bundles together active stability and traction control, the ABS braking system with electronic brake-force distribution.

There are also side-impact door beams, engine brake-assist control, front seatbelt pretensioners and force limiters, child-proof rear door locks and seatbelt warning.

Warranty: A ten-year/160,000km non-transferable drivetrain warranty; five-year/ 130,000km new-vehicle warranty; plus free five-year/130,000km roadside assist.

Service costs: Capped-price servicing for the first four years (or 60,000km) of ownership.


Toyota Prado VX 3.0DT ($75,404): The more expensive mid-spec VX Toyota Prado’s figures are 127kW and 410Nm from its three-litre engine, easily bettered by the Pajero, but the Prado is more refined and a technological tour de force. (see Prado reviews)

Nissan Patrol TI Wagon 3.0DT ($69,690): Like the Pajero, there is something of Grandpa’s axe about the Patrol. Tough, strong, capable: an ideal tow vehicle but feels big and heavy on narrow bush tracks. (see Patrol reviews)

Land Rover Discovery SDV6 SE Wagon ($81,990): The easiest on the eye, best on-road and far from shabby in the bush, but much, much more expensive. (see Discovery reviews)


Time - and the competition - is moving on for the venerable ‘Padger’. Even with the upgrades for the 2012 model-year, its slicker competition exposes its ageing styling and engine refinement.

That said, the very well equipped VRX model tested here is priced competitively. It is also right up there with the best of them for towing and in the rough (thanks to that ‘Super Select’ 4WD/transmission package).

Lastly, if you’re not fussed that it’s not at the cutting edge, Mitsubishi’s industry-leading warranty package continues to make the Pajero - and all of the Japanese brand’s products - an attractive buying proposition.

Filed under: Featured, review, wagon, Mitsubishi, diesel, suv, 4wd, pajero, mitsubishi pajero, automatic, family, Advice, special-featured, 6cyl, 5door, 5a

Leave a comment:
Enter comment here.
    4 years ago
    It's really impressive, reliable off-road SUV even cruising rugged terrain.. i really like it,,smile
    HOPE and PRAY to have this kind of SUV in the near future..smile
    • Rudi Stryk says,
      3 years ago
      1 like
      What I would like to know is what is the carrying capacity of this vehicle, I was looking at a ford ranger but it is over 1 ton capacity which rules it out under f.b.t rules.
  • MrTwstr says,
    3 years ago
    The facelifted Pajero is ugly. It was good looking before it now it is really looking like Frankenstein' home project. I would not care, since I have got the 2011 model. I am just really worried how the new Pajero model will look like. This facelift is not a good sign. I think I will not buy the new since my car is tuned for the desert and runs really well. Swb 3.8 280bhp
  • P. Robinson says,
    3 years ago
    Have had a new Pajero Platinum now for maybe 2 months. LOVE itbiggrin jsut spent 2 weeks up on Fraser Island (towing a trailer) and it was the only one of the group not to get bogged. Had to pull a Prado out (of what a feeling!). I LOVE the look of it. If it still had the corvette front mud guards then I would have shopped somewhere else. I was a committed (unfortunately) Land Rover fan - but I can tell you, I am a convert. If this truck keeps running this well over the next 5-10 years then I will be a repeat customer - Love that car!!
  • P. Robinson says,
    3 years ago
    dry Sorry for the spelling mistakes in the last entry!!sad
  • Richard janssen says,
    3 years ago
    1 like
    I have a 2007 V6 Pajero, and really love it 2500K towing capacity & 250K on the ball . I notice in this reveiw that thay have'nt mentioned the 3000k towing capacity. all good, BUT 180K Max ball weight?, whats that all about.I was looking to upgrade to a 012 model.The 012 will not pull my 21ft caravan . so i guess ill have by pass the paj all togeather! upgrade? or down grade?
    • Bakerboy says,
      3 years ago
      1 like
      Hey dude. Have a concept vision total weight 2730 just built. 20.6feet with the lot. Toeball weight was 150kg so put dual 100 amp hour batterys under chasis just front of Axels.2 jerks on rear and this gives us heaps of towball download when loading.awesome. You can work your weights around with good outcome. Go the o12 plat pj. Tough as guts.cheers.
  • Cade Anderson says,
    3 years ago
    We as a family of 5 (2 adults & 3 small children) have recently purchased a new turbo diesel 2012 active Pajero. We have just been on a family holiday over to the South Coast without towing a caravan or trailer we had a pod on the roof. The pajero provided us with plenty of room ( I also removed third row of seats which provides plenty of storage). We travelled over 1500 km's averaging 9.3 liters per 100 km's or approx 25 miles to the gallon. I cannot speak highly enough of the pajero on or off road.
  • Tyronne says,
    3 years ago
    I just bought a Platinum II Iron Bark Turbo Diesel pajero. We just did over 2500 kms and it was awesome. Trip was very smooth and we felt very comfortable. It continued to perfomred 8.5-9 L per 100km. Only down side was the blue tooth music play was configurable with Apple products.

    I am very happy with MY12 pajero and I can't wait till I do a off road trip. On road car it drives very smoothly.
    • jobins says,
      2 years ago
      1 like
      I just bought a pajero glxr last week and it configured with my HTC phone with no hesitation .wondering what model is yours.the interior is aged and proven but simple to operate.drives reasonably comfortable and no doubts about pajeros ruggedness
  • Graham Knox says,
    2 years ago
    I bought my first Pajero in 2012 only because I couldn't get a Prado which I have had 4.
    I have just recently returned from a 10 day trip as far as Broome towing a camper trailer just to Broome.
    Took off Monday 4am got into Newman @4.30pm 1200klm's later.
    Took off to PT Hedland via Nullagine Marble Bar RD all dirt.
    Stayed in Pt Hedland for 3 days then went to Broome 600klm's from Hedland.
    Saturday went mud crabbing at Willie Creek got stuck sort of not bogged putting the boat in, but my stupid fault not the Pajero's, only got 3 muddies.
    Couple of days later back to Hedland down to Karratha & Onslow, then back to Karratha.
    On the 11th day left Karratha 4.30am went up to Hedland then headed back to Perth 18 hours later got home, Nackered.
    The Pajero performed so well I doubt if I will ever go back to a Prado , on the dirt so responsive felt so safe, on the highway so comfortable passing 53.5mtr road trains effortless in passing with the help of a UHF.
    Vehicle spec:
    NT Pajero Platinum.
    3.2 DIesel Auto
    ARB steel bulbar
    K&N airfilter
    50 Watt HID spots
    BF Goodrich 265/70 17 tyres
    Total distance in the 11 days 6350 KLM's
    OH WHAT A PAJERO never thought I would say that.
    Most Prado's did around 160,000 to 220,000 klm's in around 3 years each.
    True story
    • Fran says,
      2 years ago
      Hi Graham, what was the average fuel consumption during your trip?
      • Graeme says,
        2 years ago
        1 like
        Hi Fran,

        Did you get a reply from Graham? I am thinking of buying a Pajero and you like some idea of the fuel consumption while towing long distances?

        • Ern says,
          2 years ago
          1 like
          One review mentioned around 10 l per hundred on the open road rising to around 13.5 on the outback SA dirt roads. Not towing. HTH.
      • Nev says,
        2 years ago
        I have been getting 7.9lt per 100 not towing, and towing 20ft caravan around 16lt per 100rolleyes
  • Mike says,
    2 years ago
    1 like
    Bought a new my12 exceed 2years ago and highly recommend them , have had it down to 7.1 per hundred with a tail wind & around 16-17 towing a 18 ft jayco Expander , we looked at all the suv's and value for money the Pajero won hands down , a few friends went for the Parado and now wish they had'ent !!
    As the more technical wizardry they put in these days the more things that can go WRONG !
    I added a second bowl fuel filter just to keep things clean fuel wise as in the out back you never know what you might pick up .
    Plus also fitted a set of Blackwidow draws & fridge slide which makes caravanning a pleasure , I can recommend the Pejero to anyone thinking of taking the plunge you won't regret it !
    Just look how many grey nomads are towing vans out there with Pejeros , lots , they do there homework !

    Cheers / One happy Pejero owner .
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