Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia)

Family Wagon Which Loves to Leave the Bitumen; While Rugged and Somewhat Basic, Vani Naidoo Finds There Is Plenty to like about This Seven-Seater

Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia)

Family Wagon Which Loves to Leave the Bitumen; While Rugged and Somewhat Basic, Vani Naidoo Finds There Is Plenty to like about This Seven-Seater

Article excerpt

Vital Statistics

Model: Mitsubishi Challenger XLS.

Details: Five-door all-wheel drive large SUV.

Transmission: Five-speed automatic.

Engine: 2.5-litre common rail direct injection turbo diesel generating maximum power of 131kW @ 4000rpm and peak torque of 350Nm @ 1800rpm.

Consumption: 9.8 litres/100km (combined average).

CO2: 259g/km.

Bottom line: From $55,290 ($50,102 for five-seater)

THE Mitsubishi Challenger is something of a conundrum. It is big and noisy, a little ungainly and somewhat, dare we say it, old-fashioned.

It sports all the bells and whistles we have come to expect from the latest SUVs, it is comfortable and spacious yet it remains doggedly true to the very premise of a four-wheel drive. It is defiant of conventional expectation, almost revelling in its decision to buck the trend.

There is an appeal in that. You canat help but applaud a vehicle that is comfortable in its skin, one that does what it says on the box, one without airs and graces.

Comfort

The Challenger shares its underpinnings and driveline with the Mitsubishi Triton with the interior also borrowing much from the ute. Fixtures and fittings are user-friendly but dated.

Seating is comfortable and electronically adjustable making it easy to find the optimum driving position.

The seats are high too, allowing the driver and passengers an unrestricted view.

The second pew folds and tumbles giving suitable access to the third row, which to be honest, should remain the preserve of children. The cabin feels extremely spacious with thoughtful storage and a surprisingly large boot adding to the appeal for families.

On the road

Our test car was powered by a 2.5-litre direct injection turbo diesel engine, suitably mated with a five-speed auto gearbox.

Torque is available from low down the rev range (1800rpm) providing enough grunt to make the Challenger a satisfyingly powerful machine almost from standstill, even under load.

While it is remarkably easy to drive, the Challenger does feel top heavy and cumbersome as it lumbers into corners or around city streets. It is loud too, the diesel clatter announcing its arrival long before you catch sight of it. At speed, on the open road, it does quieten down a bit thanks to improved cabin insulation but it still rattles and vibrates in the most agricultural fashion.

Take it off-road though and watch it transform into a vehicle with purpose.

With its high clearance, above average wheel articulation and muscular engine, the Challenger is a trooper in the rough, making light work of steep inclines and rugged terrain. It is sure-footed and capable, giving even moderately experienced off-road drivers immense confidence.

Other options

Competition will come from stablemate Mitsubishi Pajero (from $50,990) as well as the Ford Territory Diesel (from $55,240), the Nissan Pathfinder (from $59,490) and the Toyota Prado (from $64,490). …

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