2012 Mitsubishi Challenger 4WD XLS Review Photo:
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What's Hot
Plenty of equipment-list surprises.
What's Not
Noisy, rattly diesel is off the pace of newer engines.
A genuine rugged workhorse that mixes on road comfort with off road ability.
Kez Casey | Mar, 09 2012 | 5 Comments


Vehicle Style: Large SUV
Fuel Economy (claimed): 9.8l/100km
Fuel Economy (tested): 10.7l/100km



Mitsubishi’s Challenger takes the best of the Triton ute’s engine and drivetrain and wraps them in a family-friendly wagon package.

While adding in comfort and rear seat space, there is no sacrifice to the Challenger’s ability to tackle the rough stuff off-road.

Matching a 3.0 tonne towing capacity with genuine 4WD ability,, the Challenger may just be the ‘missing link’ for rural families - or for anyone with an urge to play in the mud.



Quality: Up front the Challenger shares its dash with the Triton; that’s a sturdy base to build upon and one that’s proven to be reliable and durable.

The hard corflute-finish dash surface was rippled and poorly fitted in our test car and the feel in front of the passenger was a little flimsy, but the rest of the interior was solid, if a little agricultural.

Comfort: With leather trim, moderately bolstered front buckets and electric adjustment, the front seats proved a comfy place to settle into.

At the rear the reclining bench seat sits higher than the front seats for a commanding view and provides a range of adjustment to suit all sizes. But the centre seat is a little lumpy and feels narrow for any passenger drawing the short straw.

Equipment: Top-of-the-line XLS specification includes leather seat surfaces with leather-wrapped steering wheel, gear selector and transfer selector, climate-control air conditioning, dusk-sensing xenon headlights, automatic windscreen wipers, electric folding mirrors, reversing camera and rear parking sensors, side steps, front fog lamps, chrome mirrors and door handles, 17-inch alloy wheels, eight-speaker AM/FMCD/MP3 audio with USB input and Bluetooth telephone connectivity.

Storage: Rear space is capacious, extending to a total 1,823 litres with the 60:40 rear seats tumbled forward.

The glovebox and centre console, without being supersized, offer useful lidded storage.



Driveability: When tied to the five-speed automatic the Challenger’s 2.5 litre direct-injected turbo diesel pumps out a fit 131kW at 4,000rpm and 350Nm at 1,800rpm (Manual models benefit from an addition 50Nm).

That provides enough grunt that, no matter how loaded, the Challenger pulls strongly without breaking a sweat. It’s not quick, but the ample torque from just off idle means there’s hardly a need to push the engine beyond 2500rpm.

Refinement: Tough-as-nails workability takes priority over refinement, and, unlike modern diesels, the Challenger’s mill feels and sounds more like diesel engines of old. That means you will need to get used to some diesel clatter at idle and up through the rev range.

A gentle rock at standstill and plenty of vibration transferred through the gear and transfer levers are also constant companions.

The news isn’t all bad though, once moving the Challenger smooths out a little and the automatic transmission, although a little slow to react, provides unobtrusive gear changes.

Suspension: Big wheel-articulation from the long-travel suspension is great for genuine off-road adventures, but it does tend to make the Challenger tip, pitch and roll about on the highway.

The ride across rough surfaces though is well-isolated, meaning the kids won’t have too much to complain about off the beaten track.

Four-wheel coil springs and independent front suspension provide the Challenger with its mix of comfort while still maintaining off-road ability, a feature enhanced by the standard locking rear differential.

Braking: Stopping power is provided by four-wheel ventilated disc brakes, with a long-stroke brake pedal for superior off-road control. You’re aware of its weight in hard stops, but the Challenger will come to a standstill in a respectable distance on road.



ANCAP rating: 4 stars (Result derived from Triton crash test)

Safety features: Dual front, side and curtain airbags, driver’s seatbelt warning lamp, height adjustable front seatbelts with pretensioners, Active Stability and Traction Control, Multi-mode ABS brakes with Brake Assist and Emergency Brakeforce Distribution.



Warranty: Vehicle warranty is five years/130,000km with up to 10 years/160,000km powertrain warranty for the original owner.

Service costs: Mitsubishi’s Diamond Advantage capped-price servicing extends for 60,000km/48 months (whichever occurs first) with a service price of $250 for the first 15,000km/12month service and $580 per service at 30,000km/24 months, 45,000km/36 months and 60,000km/48 months.



Toyota Prado GXL ($64,490) - There’s a huge pricing step-up to get into a Prado, but for that you get added interior space, seven-seat capacity and a very capable off-roader.

Best of all, a fuel tank over twice the size of the Challenger means the ability to head further and longer off the beaten track. (see Prado reviews)

Nissan Pathfinder ST-L ($59,490) - Conceptually similar to the Challenger (derived from Nissan’s Navara ute), but with a more closely-matched equipment list than the Prado and the added advantage of an additional 100Nm for more effortless towing ability. (see Pathfinder reviews)

Ford Territory TS Diesel AWD ($55,240) - Looking for something with a little more on-road finesse?

It’s hard to fault the Territory, and with frugal diesel running-costs and a superior driveline, the homegrown contender stands out as the weapon of choice for anyone not intending to head too far off road. (see Territory reviews)

Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.



It’s not suited to life as a city commuter - if that’s why you’re considering the Challenger then you’re barking up the wrong tree.

However, in XLS top-spec trim, you’ll find a leather-lined wagon with plenty of bells and whistles inside, teamed with serious off-road capability.

If you’ve got a big caravan or boat to pull, the 3000 kilogram towing capacity has you covered. If your favourite campsite takes a rocky mountain scramble and a river crossing to get to, even better as far as the Challenger is concerned.

It’s not the most modern, but is family-friendly, capable and rugged. Well worth a close look if the great outdoors are calling.

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