The Pajero was Mitsubishi’s answer to the full-size SUV. It started its life in 1982 and is still in production to this very day in certain parts of the world. Depending where it was sold, the Pajero was also known as the Montero or Shogun.
Its impressive 12 Dakar Rally championships brought the famous SUV into the mainstream spotlight and even earned it a Guinness World Book record. Thanks to this, the Pajero nameplate was placed on other Mitsubishi models in hopes of boosting sales.
Pros and Cons
- Great off-road capability
- Available diesel motor in certain countries
- Spacious Interior
- Will last an exceptionally long time with just regular maintenance
- Great ground clearance
- Dakar rally inspired genes
- Old interiors can seem dated on certain models
- Basic features leave something to be desired
- Gas mileage
- Not that fastest SUV
- Small fuel tank
- Underperforming brakes
- Could be a bit bigger in size
Mitsubishi has been making the Pajero for nearly 40 years, and in that time there have been certain issues that owners have reported. This section is dedicated to the most found by Pajero owners.
Blocked rocker cover filter. This is a relatively inexpensive fix and it should be done as soon you experience the symptoms. Leaving it will cause oil consumption and blue smoke and if left unresolved for longer periods of time it could do further damage to your engine.
Timing chain guides. If you are fortunate enough to have a diesel Pajero, you should look at the timing chain guides as they are known to fail without warning. If this happens, it means that a replacement engine will be the only answer.
Hydraulic brake booster motor. This should be taken care of sooner than later. If it ends up failing completely, you could be left with very little to no brake force.
Rocker cover oil leaks. This is not a major issue; however, it’s a messy one. As it is with most older cars, the gaskets do get old, brittle and crack over time, leaving the oil to leak out and make a mess everywhere.
Due to its long lifecycle, the Pajero can be had from prices starting as little as $3,000 and goes all the way up to $17,000. It truly depends and the year, condition, and budget. Here are some of the cheapest and most expensive Pajero’s currently for sale from the dealers associated with JDMBuySell.com.
As you can see, the prices for a Pajero differ quite drastically. From the list above, the older models are more desirable and therefore more expensive. It’s true that “they don’t make them like they used to”, and that is absolutely true in the case of the Mitsubishi Pajero.
The SUV market is incredibly competitive, and the customer has the upper hand. Almost every automaker has its version of the Pajero, and the list is growing bigger every day. Here is a list of the closest rivals that this go-anywhere vehicle has.
- Toyota Land Cruiser Prado (Read our Toyota Land Cruiser Buying Guide)
- Toyota Land Cruiser (Read our Toyota Land Cruiser Buying Guide)
- Nissan Terrano (Read our Nissan Terrano Buying Guide)
- Nissan Safari (Read our Nissan Safari Buying Guide)
- Suzuki Jimny
- Isuzu Bighorn
The list could go on forever, but we decided to keep it short for you to get an idea of what other SUV’s are the Pajero’s closest competitors.
Models and Specifications
First Generation (1982-1991)
First debuted at the Tokyo Motor Show in October 1981, the Pajero was initially sold as a short-wheelbase three-door model. It was available with either a canvas or metal roof and was initially available with three engine choices. By the end of its lifecycle, Mitsubishi offered the Pajero with a total of seven engine choices ranging from a 2.0L gas engine and went all the way up to a 3.0L V6 gas engine. Of course, there were a few diesel motors added to the mix. A customer could choose from 2.3L N/A diesel and a 2.3L or 2.5L turbocharged diesel.
Unlike other SUV’s of the time, the Pajero was offered with additional features such as double wishbone suspension, power steering, torsion bar springs, etc., all of which were a rarity amongst their competitors.
1983 was the first year that we see the legendary SUV available in a five-door configuration. As the years progressed, better performing engines, and improved cosmetic changes were added to the lineup.
Second Generation (1991-1999)
For the second generation, Mitsubishi completely redesigned the Pajero, both inside and out. Improvement such as a longer wheelbase, optional high roof, and improved engines made the SUV reach its legendary status. In addition, multi-mode ABS and shock absorbers were added for the first time on any Japanese SUV. The ability to switch between four-wheel drive and RWD at speeds of up to 49 mph (80 km/h) was the icing on the cake for this generation.
The engine choices were now shrunk down to only six. These included four gas engines ranging from a 2.4L inline-four to a 3.5L V6. Diesel enthusiasts could choose between a 2.5L turbo diesel inline-four or a 2.8L turbocharged inline-four.
During this time, Mitsubishi had a joined venture with several Chinese automakers such as Guangtong Motors, Jincheng Motors, Jinhui Motors, etc. that put their own spin on the Pajero and badged it as their own.
Third Generation (1999-2006)
Japan got the Pajero in 1999 while other markets received it shortly after, with the Philippines not receiving the third generation until late 2003. This time around Mitsubishi focused their efforts on making the Pajero tougher. They designed it with a lower and wider stance alongside a unibody construction which made it a lot stiffer and in turn improved the cabin strength.
A total of seven engines were offered with a new 3.8L gas engine for the North American markets. The diesel lineup was available in a 2.5L inline-four, a 2.8L inline four, and finally a 3.2L inline four. The four gasoline engines were comprised of one 3.0L V6, two 3.5L V6, and finally the all new 3.8L V6. There as a choice of a five-speed manual, and a four or five speed automatic.
Fourth Generation (2006-present)
As times progressed, so did customer demands. The fourth generation Pajero was focused on safety. New front and side airbags were added as well as an improved Active Stability and Traction Control system (ASTC) and an electronic brakeforce distribution.
On top of that, many cosmetic improvements made their way o the Pajero just about every year. These consisted of LED lights, different front fascia’s, bigger wheels and so on. Moreover, the brakes now increased in size to a larger 332 mm front rotors.
In August 2019, the Famed SUV ceased production in Japan as the demand was declining for several years prior. However, it is still being sold to this very day in Australia, the Middle East and even South America.
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Absolutely! In fact, the Pajero is one of the most Relivable JDM SUV’s, especially the older ones.
Depends in which side of the world you live on. The Pajero never did very well in the North American market, but other parts of the world got them in droves. Combine that with the fact that there aren’t many Mitsubishi dealerships left in North America and finding parts can become somewhat challenging.
Yes. The Pajero was sold all over the world, including LHD countries.
Of course. The Pajero is the preferred method of transport for many people all over the world. A lot of customers that live in extreme climates choose it as their daily driver.
We highly recommend going for a model that is at least 15 years or older. We are not saying that the new ones are not good, but the older ones were made to last, unlike today’s cars.
How to Import a Mitsubishi Pajero
Read our ultimate guide, How to Import a Car from Japan.
Can you make this guide better? Are you a huge fan of the Pajero? If so, please contact us.