Newspaper article The Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Australia)

Rough and Tumble Load-Lugger; the Harder the Terrain, All the Better in This SUV Reveals Vani Naidoo

Newspaper article The Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Australia)

Rough and Tumble Load-Lugger; the Harder the Terrain, All the Better in This SUV Reveals Vani Naidoo

Article excerpt

MITSUBISHI'S Challenger offers an intriguing conundrum, always has. What would be the appeal, for example, of a SUV using the underpinnings of a commercial-grade vehicle? And why would you include it in a fleet that featured the Pajero, which is cut from the same mould?

Yet, it remains there or thereabouts finding favour in equal measure with families that like the work-horse capability of the Triton but the body of a wagon or by those who are not swayed by the comforts of soft-roaders preferring instead the Challenger's prowess off the bitumen.

Mitsubishi has trimmed and simplified the line, dropping the two-wheel drive version and seven-seat options as well as the top-of-the-range XLS. The Challenger is now available in two-entry models and an up-spec LS choice.

Comfort

Inside, the Challenger is quite utilitarian, almost stark really. Function quite obviously outdoes form here but there is surprisingly a certain comfort to that.

Plastics are harder than they should be and the sat-nav and radio surrounds feel quite cheap but dials and buttons are large and sturdy and cleverly, exactly where it would make sense to find them.

The driving position is excellent - you sit perched high above the traffic with the instrumentation unobstructed and steering wheel comfortable under hand.

There is head and leg room aplenty for both rows but while the rear seat is a bit flat, as is often the case with vehicles of this sort, it is rather a more comfortable journey for occupants in the front. Seats are supportive and nicely bolstered holding you in even on the rough bits.

There are plenty of easily accessible storage compartments, all sensible in size, so you can easily fit the coffee, water, phone as well as the kids' Little Pets collection.

The boot is impressive, so much so that I actually had to climb inside to anchor the car seats instead of just stretching over and it offers up more than 1800 litres with the second row stowed.

On the road

The Challenger takes most of its underpinnings and driveline from the Mitsubishi Triton and this is largely reflected in its on-road performance.

The feel is all commercial strength rather than family wagon but strangely enough it remains a comfortable ride. The 2.5-litre four-cylinder diesel engine does a great job in powering the Challenger even under load. It takes a while to get going - and is loud to boot - but once under way it is quick to speed and easier on the ears too.

The soft suspension coupled with power under foot and rigid diff can make for some interesting moments until you become au fait with its language.

The Challenger drifts noticeably around corners and large steering turns from lock-to-lock calls for some nifty work around tight traffic circles and busy city roads yet it is quite accomplished in tricky shopping centre car parks. …

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