Mitsubishi Pajero Exceed .
Brendan is in the market for a used large 4WD. He’s looking to hold onto it for about the next 10 years and would like luxuries such as leather and a sunroof. He’s weighing up between Toyota’s Prado, its LandCruiser 100-Series/Lexus LX470 siblings and Nissan’s Pathfinder.
$15,000 to $25,000
Toyota 4WDs have a great reputation, and with good reason given their competence, durability and golden resale.
In the case of the Prado, 100-Series LandCruiser and LX470, we’d say Brendan could do a lot worse than any of them, with our preference tending towards the Prado as its similar talent set, superior value and better economy make its bigger brothers just a little redundant.
Finding one, though, mightn’t be straightforward. Only topline Grandes have the leather/sunroof combo – at the lower end of this budget you’ll be looking at first-gen models, which dictate a last-century safety artillery, while pinning down the second-gen model you want (the diesel) could be tough even at $25k.
So we wouldn’t count out looking elsewhere if the right Prado refused to pop up. Not to the Pathfinder, though – superseded WX II models at the lower end of this budget have similarly safety shortcomings to the first-gen Prado; we’d have a current-gen models with a diesel engine but only the topline petrol Ti gets leather.
2007-09 Kia Sorento EX-L CRDi, from $21,340*
This isn’t an easy car to love with its bland looks, mushy handling and jittery ride, while there are plenty of rivals offering better space, user-friendliness and quality.
However, the Kia offers a path to respectably fresh (if still superseded) metal for surprisingly few dollars. It’s a tough customer off the beaten track, usefully practical, affordable to run by big 4WD standards and has a reputation for hanging together.
This topline EX-L, too, has the leather and sunroof Brendan desires, as well as safety must-haves like stability control and curtain airbags. The CRDi diesel engine also offers up a well-rounded mix of accessible grunt and economy, unlike peaky, thirsty petrol V6 versions.
Read Drive’s Kia Sorento reviews: Kia Sorento CRDi road test.
2005-08 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited CRD, from $19,690*
This Jeep has it all over the Sorento for appeal with its chunky looks, more refined (if still wobbly) road manners and stronger, smoother diesel V6.
Its generous specification also trumps the Kia; on top of leather you get heated seats and all sort of other upmarket toys, though a sunroof was optional. It has a more sophisticated all-wheel-drive system and is hugely capable off-road.
Even with $25k in your pocket, however, you won’t get as new an example as the Kia, and you might have to settle for its less desirable predecessor at the lower reaches of this budget. Don’t expect Japanese-beating quality and reliability, either, or benchmark cabin and boot space.
Read Drive’s Jeep Grand Cherokee reviews: Jeep Grand Cherokee road test.
2002-09 Mitsubishi Pajero Exceed diesel, from $15,510*
Used examples of this Mitsubishi straddle this full budget range and deliver some of the most car-like road manners in the class, backed up by ample off-road ability, a roomy, user-friendly cabin and willing diesel engine.
These topline models also get the leather Brendan desires and plenty of other upmarket toys, though like the Jeep a sunroof was optional.
These Pajeros, however, are firmer riding and noisier than some 4WDs and aren’t exceptionally thrifty either. You’ll need to do your homework to sort through myriad similar looking versions – we’re sidestepping original NM models here for 2002’s NP, which added stability control and side airbags, or the NS of 2006 with its freshened styling and cabin, more advanced diesel engine and curtain bags.
The Kia’s value, contemporary safety and excellent diesel engine make it the big 4WD to go for if you’re on a tight budget, but only if you can live with its shortcomings and total lack of emotional appeal.
The Jeep goes the other way. It’s possibly the most desirable package here but there are also question marks over its value and reliability prospects.
Which leaves the Pajero to snare the mainstream vote. It’s not without its issues but it has the right specification, the smartest cabin, solid reliability prospects and drives better than its rivals too. Its availability and strong value across Brendan’s full $15k-$25k budget range seals its victory.
* Values are estimates provided by Glass’s Guide based on an example averaging up to 20,000km per annum and in a well-maintained condition relevant to its age.