Just do it!!
Jokes aside, after doing a huge amount of research myself, i settled on the Jeep Grand Cherokee, also after considering the Pajero (it was not an easy process I can assure you. However, despite having been a Pajero fan for a long while and having used them to great effect in extremely rough terrain for work, I decided to go the Jeep route and am very happy.
My criteria for selection were as follows:
3. cruise control and mods cons
4. excellent off-road capability
5. budget of under R200k
6. mileage of under 100k km
The jeep covers all of these and my reasons were as follows:
1. The Mercedes engine used in the 2.7 CRD is by all accounts an excellent engine and, provided you maintain it well, will last a good while. The engine provides roughly the same power and torque as the Pajero (unless you get the High Output version in which case the Jeep is significantly stronger)
2. The Mercedes derived automatic 5-speed gearbox in the Jeep is very smooth and has well spaced ratios for cruising, commuting and low speed use offroad. In addition, the Quadra-Drive system is comparable to the Pajero Super Select system when it comes to the 4x4 system. Also, the Jeep has dual (front and back) limited slip Dana differentials allowing excellent grip control and negates the need for lockable diffs (unless you're looking at EXTREMELY serious off-roading). Furthermore, in 4L, the Quadra-Drive system locks the central transfer case differential in the same way as the Pajero central "diff-lock"
3. The GC is very, very comfortable and has arguably the best seats I've ever come across outside of an old Mercedes. Also, depending on the model (i.e. Limited or Overland) all the mod cons are covered and regardless of spec they come standard with an excellent climate control system and cruise control.
4. The Jeep Grand Cherokee has better clearances than a Fortuner and still has a solid front axle so provides excellent 4x4 ability (having done a vast amount of offroading for work in other vehicles, an SFA is really the best way to go wrt 4x4 ability and articulation).
5. and 6. from my experience, any Pajero for less than R200k will be at least a 2002/3 model and have more than 150k km. I paid R175k for my Jeep with 98k km and a full 2-year unlimited mileage warranty. The Jeep provides excellent value for money - but is most worthwhile if you intend to keep it for at least 5 years or more due to depreciation.
Things to look out for (thanks to the excellent fellow on this forum are as follows):
-as with any vehicle, make sure it has a complete service history and get it checked with an AA 101 point check or similar. The servicing doesn't necesarily have to have been done by the stealer as place like American SUV etc provide excellent service and have a wealth of specialist knowledge on Jeeps.
-check the injectors under the engine cover, if there is any black residue around the seat of the injector, get them to replace the seals immediately (available from Bosch as a kit)
-make sure you get a warranty that covers injector replacement as with bad quality fuel they can fail at 150k km or so. By most accounts, fitting a UDF filter virtually eliminates this problem and allows your injectors to last significantly longer
-listen for any whines in the gearbox and diffs, and check that the diffs do not bind, this may indicate incorrect servicing procedure with the diffs as they need a unique friction modifier additive (very easy to get hold of and the guys on this forum will provide advice on how to add it)
-check that the climate control works in all positions and at all speeds, sometime the blend doors can fail which are costly to get at and replace.
Thats all for the moment but I'm sure the stalwarts will be along soon enough to give you more reasons to come over the dark side! All the best and good luck!