Reader Help

Reader help: should I buy a new Pajero Sport or a second-hand Prado?

Pajero Sport Vs Prado is becoming a common decision in the off-road world…

QUESTION: Hi Practical Motoring, I’m just wondering what your opinion would be on comparing a brand new Pajero Sport GLS or Exceed against a 2013 Prado GLS with 50,000kms… I confess the appeal of the Toyota brand is strong in terms of not wanting to get stuck with a failure in the High Country, but if you find the time for a more informed opinion, I’d love your insight. My use case / requirements are family of four, towing a soft-floor camper trailer weighing less than 1500kgs, and off-road touring.

ANSWER: Hello – the Mitsubishi brand should also give you confidence about not being stuck with a failure, so I wouldn’t say Prados are more reliable than Pajero Sports. Yes, the Sport is a new car, but it’s based on the Triton and Mitsubishi know how to make a good offroader. So if we discount reliability as equal (yeah, Toyota owners, write in and complain) we can look at the cars in terms of capability.

First up, these two are not quite the same size. Prado is 4930mm long (with door-mounted spare), Sport 4790mm, and widths are 1885 and 1820mm. Prado is also 250kg or so heavier. So first off, be sure you are happy with the sizes – which would suit you best? Still, both could handle a family of four camping once you tow a trailer and/or put a roofrack on.

Offroad – the Prado beats the Sport through slightly better ground clearance, better gearing and suspension. But it isn’t by enough to make a significant difference. You put a lift and decent tyres on either of them and you go where you want in the High Country or anywhere else bar the most hardcore tracks. Pajero Sport has a rear cross-axle locker, but you’ll rarely need it, so good is the traction control.  It also has a terrain select system but that won’t stop Prado keeping up with it and then some.

At this stage, the Prado is well ahead on aftermarket support, and that has to be a huge consideration for you as an offroad tourer. Also, the Prado 150 has a very useful 150L fuel tank (previously 180L in earlier models), whereas you’ll need to budget for an aftermarket unit for Pajero Sport which has a very tiny 68L tank. Fortunately, Brown Davis is there for you with a 107L replacement unit, and I have no difficulty in recommending them. But even that’s 43L off the Prado, or almost two jerrycans which typically take 22L apiece.

Prado also has a decent swing-out door with spare mounted in the right place, whereas Pajero Sport is underslung – ok – but has its release in the cargo bay – very bad.

Onroad – neither are BMW X cars. Pajero Sport is newer and sharper but that’s not saying much considering it’s being compared against Prado. Both are all wheel drive, yes even Pajero Sport. The Sport is a bit quicker as it has a touch more grunt, 8 not 6 speeds (maybe 5 depending how old you go for the Prado) and is lighter. Oh, and “quicker” is a relative term!

Even though it’s older, the Prado has a better interior and 7-seat layout; Pajero Sport is a little odd and has some idiosyncracies. More here. Towing is a decisive win to the Sport, with 3100kg braked compared to only 2500kg for Prado, and the Sport has trailer stability control as standard. Both will easily pull your camper.

Prado does well for safety, but won’t match the high 5 star rating of the Sport which also features some advanced safety aids in top-spec Exceed trim such as AEB and blind spot monitoring.

A new Pajero Sport nets you a 5 year 100,000km warranty. A new Prado… 3 years, 100,000km and a 2013 car would be out of warranty, but its depreciation hit would have been taken care of. An older car may well come with some useful offroad accessories too. In general, 4X4s that have been used offroad are not necessarily to be avoided. Yes, they may have the odd scratch or scrape, but often they are well cared for mechanically and accessories can be had a for a fraction of the new cost, providing a further saving. However, 4X4 setup is quite personal so you may end up switching parts which may be more expensive than starting from scratch.

Overall, both cars can do the job. My advice is to look at the accessories you want and make sure they’re available for the Sport, and check our reviews to see if there’s anything you can’t live with. If all that checks out, your choice is this – do you prefer a new car with warranty or an older, slightly larger one with a better 7-seat layout and more accessories? This isn’t an easy decision, so I’m not going to finish with a recommendation as with so many of these questions all we can do is lay the facts and experience out and let you make the call.

Further reading

  • trackdaze

    Seen and Stopped to help plenty of broken down prado owners. From the expired d4d at grafton maccas to an all failed front strut 20minutes west of the coulsen track.

    • That’s because Prados are very common not because they are unreliable. We had to get one out of the bush with a failed alternator a few weeks ago…we did it, as the car still ran off its battery (and other batteries). Good engineering, some modern cars would have just died completely.

      • trackdaze

        Had applied the commonality filter

        Yes the alternators seemed to be a increasing issue with the 150. Nowhere near as suceptable as the 70 and 200 series v8 alternator though.

  • Simon

    I believe the 150 prado has only 150L fuel tank, not the 180L quoted in the article. Reducing the impact when you consider it is only 2 jerry cans smaller than the replacement tank in the pajero sport.

    • Good point it was the older ones that were 180. I keep forgetting. Fixed. “Only” two jerries smaller is still a lot, you can go a long way 40+ litres of fuel!

  • dilligaf

    That Pajero Sport has one ugly rear, looks like an upside down Volvo.

    • SgtCarlMc

      Since I own a GLS it really doesn’t bother me as I am in the front section facing forward. Unlike some, you, I just see a vehicle as getting from A to B, I don’t care about looks, rather can it handle the challenges I will give it. If all in your Life is about a rear end of a car, get out more and whats wrong with Volvo? Apart from ABBA the second most wealthy car manufacturer in the World, you don’t get that way selling crappy cars

  • Ken

    Not sure how you think the side opening rear door is “decent”. It is totally impractical in every day motoring. Needs too much room to open, offers no rain protection etc. The five year Mitsubishi warranty could be a factor in the decision.

    • Depends. Side opening doors can have spares mounted and you can build a table to fold down. Upwards opening doors offer rain protection to a small degree. Split horizontal or vertical have other pros/cons. There is no right answer, depends on your use and preference.

      • Ken

        Yeah, I get that but I have seen so many times when it can’t be opened properly because of lack of space in shopping centres or when a caravan is hitched up etc. Remember I did say in everyday motoring. I’m not a 4WD’er. I haven’t had to use a spare for about 5 years and see the spare on the door restricting rear vision too. But, each to his own, I guess.

  • Ken

    One point about the long range fuel tank, be it 150 litres or 120 litres, Each litre weighs around 1 kilogram which has to be included in the GVM of the vehicle. I can’t see any advantage of filling such big tanks around town just to save a couple of cents when fuel is “cheap”. You then have to carry the extra weight around.

    • Hi Ken. A litre of diesel weighs only 850g or so, and that has to come out of the payload not the GVM. Most offroaders and long-distance towers fit long-range tanks to go further between fills, not to save money. I wouldn’t be without my 140L unit, and my previous three 4WDs had long range tanks. The Discovery I owned had 190L which was just great.

  • Mat

    Just having a read through this, and notice it is stated that the prado has better gearing than the pajero sport. wondering if this was an error? as by all accounts, the crawling ratio of the pajero sport is way better then that of the prados.

Robert Pepper

Robert Pepper

Robert Pepper is the editor of PM4x4, an offroad driver trainer and photographer interested in anything with wings, sails or wheels. He is the author of four books on offroading, and owns a modified Ford Ranger PX which he uses for offroad touring. His other car is a Toyota 86 which exists purely to drive in circles on racetracks. Visit his website: www.l2sfbc.com