Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia)

Wagon Loves the Tough Stuff

Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia)

Wagon Loves the Tough Stuff

Article excerpt

MITSUBISHI Challenger is a less sophisticated vehicle than the popular Mitsubishi Pajero. This makes it cheaper and, in the opinion of some four-wheel drive enthusiasts, more enjoyable to operate.

Like the Pajero, the Challenger is a genuine 4WD, not a soft-roader. Take it to forest trails and it will cope with ease, likewise it handles beach driving well.

When introduced to Australia in 1998, the Challenger was virtually a Mitsubishi Triton pickup with a station wagon body. Over the years it became a model in its own right. The Challenger has reasonable on-road comfort for its type and most owners are happy with its characteristics. Those looking for a relaxed suburban ride may be better off opting for Pajero instead.

Mitsubishi Challenger is strictly a five-seater, unlike Pajero which can carry seven in some models. Challenger has good head and legroom but is a bit cramped for width in the back for three adults.

Luggage space is excellent, with plenty of length and width. The area is quite easy to load despite being high off the ground. There is also plenty of in-cabin storage space.

The Mitsubishi Challenger's engine is the same 3.0-litre V6 unit as is used on upmarket Triton models. The engine is willing enough, but is slightly down on torque at everyday revs. So you have to work at gearchanging to keep it working to best advantage. The five-speed manual gearbox is light and easy to use.

The automatic transmission is a four-speed unit in an era when many new competitors have moved up to five-speed units. The auto has Mitsubishi's semi-intelligent change system and can be used as a sequential manual.

The Challenger's V6 powerplant doesn't sit in front of the highly-regarded Super Select 4WD system fitted to the Mitsubishi Pajero, rather it uses an old-style setup which normally drives the rear wheels only. The two-speed transfer case can be shifted on-the-fly between 2H and 4H at speeds of up to 100kmh and the front hubs are automatic. So, apart from the inability to use 4WD on sealed roads the system is almost as good as the Super Select one.

The suspension in the original ute-based model gives a ride that may be too firm for some and so can make Challenger tiring on a long trip. …

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