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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Cape Town
    Thanked: 272

    Default Mtsu Pajero DiD crowned Auzzie's best towing vehicle

    No doubt many will cry foul but interesting nonetheless

    When trying to decide on a tow vehicle, most people have a five-minute test drive of a demonstrator vehicle around city traffic, without ever getting out of third gear. So we set out to find the best tow vehicle.

    We picked an ideal test track. Heading out from McGraths Hill to Penrith, along the freeway, up Lapstone Hill, through to Katoomba, we descended Mt Victoria, proceeded to Lithgow, climbed Scenic Hill and ambled down Bells Line of Road before returning to McGraths Hill. Some 210km of steep climbing, city traffic and roundabouts, straight runs, sharp turns, hard braking, steep descents, gruelling hills, and all with the most magnificent scenery.

    We started each day at approximately 9am and concluded around 4pm with a 30-minute lunch break. So we were in a driving situation for the whole day, very similar to that of a normal touring person.

    We also shook it up a bit by adding a Winnebago 23ft motorhome on a Fiat Ducato chassis into the mix to test a motorhome’s fuel economy in relation to the tow vehicles. We found some surprising results. For the towing vehicles, we had a Jayco Heritage 23ft behind us on most trips and a similar-weight Millard for the other.

    Taking the Jayco over the weighbridge certified it to be 2280kg. As two of our test vehicles had towing capacities of 2300kg, this van was ideal.

    The Great Dividing Range was certainly dividing up the vehicles in performance and drivability. If we were to call it a day at Katoomba, we would have had very different results. Instead, we achieved more by pushing harder and getting through the climbs from Lithgow to Bell and Mt Tomah. We had two vehicles that struggled during the test and both manufacturers were invited to provide a replacement if they thought it was required. Ford chose not to provide another Territory and Nissan provided a second Navara. It had proved to be a very good test track.


    The first of the two Navaras in this test was a manual, and it wasn’t long before we noticed that the car jars a lot as you drive. I had a hard time writing in the passenger seat.

    Visibility over the bonnet was superior to most and it certainly had good braking and steering. Fred Wright (our driver) liked the dash, the controls were easy to read, and the red needles really stood out. Plain is better!

    The test vehicle drove like it was due for a service even though it had only travelled 6000km. It developed a pinging while under load through the mountains and we could not determine where the noise was coming from. We also sent out a small black cloud
    of smoke each time we pulled off.

    It sat very well in fourth gear, and had plenty of pickup from 80km/h when required. Fred was aware he was pulling a large van all the time and we think a smaller van could be better to tow.

    Second and fourth gears are great pulling gears, but first and third both suffer with lack of power. We were flat to the floor up Scenic Hill doing 45km/h in first gear. The gearbox seemed to be the driver’s main cause for concern over the trip.

    Firstly, the gear selection was not natural (easy), and secondly it was like the turbo didn’t cut in until a much higher rev, so there was nothing to help get the van moving from a standing start.

    Fred said, “I wouldn’t call it a second-rate vehicle, so don’t judge it too quickly”.
    The more we drove it the more we liked it, until we had to do a hill start. This vehicle transfers more road information to the driver than the others. The driver is working harder in this vehicle, is more aware of the road and therefore more fatigued at the end of the drive. It’s not a shopping car.

    Fuel consumption for this vehicle was very good and it came in second place behind the motorhome.


    As we had concerns about the original test vehicle, we asked Nissan for an automatic Navara to take the test and bring it in line with the other vehicles tested, as they were all automatics.

    We found this Navara performed very similar to the original vehicle. It was slow to take off and lacked power to pull a van of this size from a standing start.

    This was one of the noisiest and the most uncomfortable drives of the entire test. There was no hiding it’s a diesel engine from inside the cabin. The overdrive button doesn’t remain switched off. Each time we started the engine, we had to remember to disengage overdrive.

    It didn’t like Lapstone Hill that much and we travelled up Scenic Hill at 60km/h in second gear, so it performed better here than the manual.

    We found with both the Navaras that they seemed to drive better when they’ve got a challenge. I liked the fact that you had the option of 2WD and 4WD at the flick of a button. This provides a great deal of flexibility.

    The seats are really hard, so it’s not a comfortable or relaxing drive. The vehicle is extremely bouncy, it had the noisiest of cabins, and it sounds like a truck. At the end of the trip, the driver felt very tired with a sore back and was ready to get out. It’s a working vehicle and very good at it.


    The vehicle was so well presented to us, it had to win first prize for presentation. Well done Ford! The first half of the trip was such a pleasure, but the second half gave cause for concern.

    It was so comfortable that we thought we were in the higher price bracket. There was not too much pitching and it didn’t bounce like some of the others did. The Territory’s gauges were all very clear.

    It took off from a standing start like a rocket, so it won the 0–80km/h category, but struggled getting from 80–110km/h. This may have been due to a wind that we felt when we hit 110km/h.

    The Territory had good vision and the driver’s seat was comfortable, but could have done with a lumbar support section.

    Just before lunch as we headed back up a hill at Lake Lyle, we noticed the temperature light began to flash. We then saw the gear selection indicator was flashing and the temperature gauge had risen to 3/4.

    We inspected the vehicle and read the owner’s manual to discover this represented an automatic overheat. After a few minutes on the side of the road, the temperature gauge began to reduce, so we proceeded to Lithgow and stopped for a half-hour lunch break.

    The temp gauge had reduced to normal, so we set off. Each time we climbed a hill, the temp gage raised and it lowered as we went down them. Spending the rest of the trip glancing at the temp gauge made us feel so unsure that we lost all confidence in the vehicle. This certainly added to the stress of driving, so a vehicle that should have ranked in the top three was now slipping down the ladder.

    We reported this to Ford, who responded by saying the vehicle was starting to put itself into a “limp home mode”, designed to protect the vehicle from damage. Ford inspected the vehicle and found no error codes. We are pleased to hear that Ford has such in-built safety; however, we could not place a vehicle that struggled to handle this weight, on a hot day, into the top rankings.

    The Territory ranked well as a shopping car, drive car, and for stability on the road.


    The Nissan Patrol has been around for many years and is an avid off-road vehicle. To our surprise, this vehicle lacked the grunt of its size and was a disappointing performer.

    The Nissan Patrol is a rugged and tough vehicle, but didn’t have the power and flexibility of the other vehicles. The handling of the vehicle was very stiff and it suffered a lot of bounce similar to that of the Navara.

    The controls were all easy to read.The GPS looked like it was a touch screen, but didn’t work until we found the remote control. The black leather seats were quite hot and the heat off the console is really unpleasant. We found it was quite a noisy diesel engine, especially under load and it needed more cabin noise reduction.

    We struggled up Lapstone Hill and headed up Scenic Hill, with the power button on. We sat in first gear at 40km/h and had to manually put it back into first gear as it kept hunting between first and second. It was a very poor show.

    This vehicle required a fair bit of concentration to constantly urge the car to perform better. The power button helped, but not a great deal. The driver’s seat provided good support, but rated only adequate by the end of the day.

    The sheer size of the vehicle definitely kept the van more stable. There was never a time when the RV was going to overpower the tow vehicle. The brakes were good, the steering more than adequate, it was just the engine that was the letdown.

    This was the slowest off the mark, it revved the highest of all the competition, and drove the second slowest around the track. It was like being out for a Sunday drive.


    Not every person who tows an RV owns a new 4WD. So we decided to put two 2WD vehicles into the mix: the Ford Fairmont (a late-model car) and the Ford Territory, as both are used by readers to tow. The Fairmont is very comfortable to ride in with a towing capacity of 2300kg, which is more than acceptable.

    The rear of the Fairmont Ghia was too low causing ‘bottoming out’ on undulating surfaces. We would recommend an upgrade to lift the rear. The ride quality was very comfortable and plush to say the least. It was a softer and more compliant ride than the 4WDs.

    The engine had ample power to pull the van. This test proved the torque of a diesel was better than that of a petrol engine for towing. The braking was good and the side mirrors essential (not to mention legally required) for safe driving; however, they moved in the wind. Steering the vehicle gave the driver good feedback and the power steering was good.

    Engine performance was good on flat surfaces – climbing sometimes caused the auto to kick down with high revs to maintain speed. The Fairmont was one of the quickest off the mark and is an obvious choice for a drive car and shopping car.

    It was not as happy towing as the other cars, but the pulling power was adequate. We never felt like the caravan could overtake the car. The van wasn’t pushing the car, but it was rocking back and forth.

    This vehicle has the potential to be a good towing platform. It offers a somewhat relaxing ‘plush’ ride to occupants. At the test’s conclusion, the driver felt relaxed and fresh.


    It’s no secret that our driver has been a Toyota man for years. That’s why this tow test had two people on every trip to give balance to the article. That said, our driver had high hopes for the Prado. We were given a beautiful brand-new release Prado Kakadu with beige leather interior and it looked like a dream car with all the bells and whistles.

    The only time you could tell from inside the cabin that it was a diesel was when idling. The noise suppression was so good on the road, it was as quiet as you could ask for. It was certainly a softer ride than many of the others, but was way too bouncy for towing.
    The Prado was just not that happy towing this weight. It ranks with the most refined vehicles we have driven, but it just doesn’t have the punch to tow as well as the Pajero or LandCruiser.

    The driver tended to drive the vehicle softer. The Prado has been over-engineered into a soft shopping vehicle, not a punchy drive car.

    The Prado was flat to the floor a few times and just didn’t have the pickup. The engine didn’t seem to have the torque for towing. It had smooth delivery of power that’s a lot more luxurious and sedate.

    Until you do a test like we did with these vehicles, you cannot predict the differences between the test vehicles’ performance, with and without a van attached.

    It was pathetic up hills. The driver had to use the gearbox manually to get through the
    steep climbs without losing the revs. To get up Scenic Hill, the driver placed the Prado into second gear before the hill and was flat to the floor at 60km/h with the gearbox in second the whole time.

    At the end of the trip, the driver was relaxed, he had a pleasant drive and could easily do it all again, but thought, would you really want to?


    As an alternative to towing, we put a Winnebago motorhome into the mix to compare its driveability. This vehicle turned out to be a surprise package. Not only was it comfortable to drive, relatively relaxing and easy to control, but it also scored best for fuel economy and was the fastest vehicle around the course.

    The AMT (automated manual transmission) was frustrating at first, but as we drove and let the vehicle dictate its terms, we had a pleasant drive. All dials were clean and easy to read, and the radio volume controls were also on the steering wheel. The steering was very light.

    Noise level was very high in the motorhome over rough, bouncy roads. With lots of banging and clanging, it was hard to get used to it or listen to the radio. The radio would be easier to hear if speakers were placed behind the driver’s and passenger’s head.

    There was very good vision in mirrors and with the reversing camera on all the time you can see what’s behind you.

    We got through Lapstone Hill fine, even pulled out from behind a truck to pass. On Victoria Pass, it was a little unnerving going down and into the corners. We had to slow right down to take the corners. The Fiat had really nice braking. On Scenic Hill, it accelerated right up to 60km/h with no problems, but was down to 40km/h on corners.

    It was comfortable in cruise control, but the driver’s seat was not supportive enough for concentrated driving. Concentration levels varied, and at times you felt relaxed, but at others, you had to put in a lot of effort. It’s not one of those vehicles you get out of and say, “I could do that again”. By the end we felt exhausted and ready to stop. It’s not a chore to drive, just noisy, and it was bouncier in this cabin than most.

    At first we thought it would eat the fuel, but Winnebago provided testing they did that showed they achieved 11.34L/100km. Ours at 12.78 was slightly higher due to the constant climbing and braking involved on this course.

    We were so glad we decided to put the Winnebago on the test track. We never expected the fuel consumption to be so good. The drivability is easy and it made a great alternative. Winnebago is onto a good thing!


    The LandCruiser was always going to be a contender for the best tow vehicle due to its popularity and reputation. Not swayed by that, we were eager to put it through its paces like the rest of the vehicles.

    The LandCruiser has a presence on the road that few other vehicles can command.
    It handled the road conditions with ease and without letting the driver have any feedback to worry about.

    The overall ease of driving was very good. It ranked first in several categories including drive car, tow vehicle, 4WD, stability and speed, and being the quickest to get to 110km/h; however, it ranked poorly as a shopping car.

    Braking with electric brakes was exceptional with good initial brake response. At no time did we ever feel the caravan could have taken control of the LandCruiser.

    The LandCruiser’s weight definitely gave better control of the caravan. Acceleration was outstanding. At times you would be forgiven for wondering if you were even pulling a two-tonne van.

    Pulling up the steep hills was never a problem and we didn’t need to use the power button. Scenic Hill to Mt Tomah was a breeze for this combination.

    The suspension was extremely well suited to towing. No pitching and very little sway. The LandCruiser had significantly better torque than the others, which made it better for inclines and acceleration.

    The LandCruiser is happy with the tow weight; it would walk all over the smaller vehicles in a tow contest. All the instrumentation was easy to read.

    However, the large A-pillar can obscure the drivers’ vision, there was insufficient lumbar support in the driver’s seat, and the fuel consumption exceeded expectations.
    Our driver’s comment at the end of the day was, “If there is a better station-wagon tow vehicle, I would be surprised. I could do the whole trip again now”.

    The LandCruiser has the best of 4WD platforms and towing capacity.


    This vehicle turned out to be the surprise package of the whole lot. The Pajero is a rally-bred vehicle that is more of a driver’s car and was so punchy. The Pajero was fun to drive and it was a lot more responsive.

    We were so impressed with this vehicle, the way it handled, its towing capabilities, and the comfort. The whole package was such a delight to drive. The driver’s seat has a lot of electric adjustment. The dash was clear, stylish, and simple, and that suited us just fine.

    The Pajero was good on hills, corners and downhill slopes. Although it doesn’t have the torque of the big LandCruiser, this engine punches above its grade. Mitsubishi has created a very nice package.

    This vehicle had the choice of 2WD or 4WD at the touch of a button. It really had the best of both worlds.

    The vision over the bonnet was brilliant, it was more comfortable, had better appointment level, was smaller in body size, both width and height. It was pretty hard to beat. It was a very pleasant and enjoyable vehicle to tow with. The noise suppression within the cabin was excellent.

    The Pajero ranked highest as a shopping car, and was ranked highly in the categories of drive car, 4WD, tow vehicle, speed and stability. We searched for things we didn’t like, and the only thing we thought of was the hot black leather and the hard to find fuel release.

    This was by far the windiest day we had had, but there was no evidence of that in the driver’s seat. There was also more traffic today than any other day,and that didn’t affect us either.

    The car and caravan were possibly too similar in weight, and if there could have been any improvement, a slightly lighter caravan may have been better. That said, this was never a cause for concern, more an observation.

    The driver was so relaxed at the end, he could have done it all again. He stepped out of the vehicle just as stressfree as when he stepped in.

    All this added up to make this the Best Tow Vehicle!


    We wanted to give rankings for different categories to help us determine the best overall tow vehicle. It wasn’t good enough to be just the best on the day – we wanted to know about the overall performance of the vehicle, as a drive car, a 4WD, the stability on the road, as a shopping car, and how it performed on the fuel consumption and speed tests.

    The Mitsubishi Pajero Exceed was the outstanding performer. Although not the winner in every category, it was never out of the running or far behind the leader of each category. If we were to purchase a tow vehicle today, the Mitsubishi would be our first choice, closely followed by the LandCruiser.

    Year: 2009
    Fuel: Diesel
    Engine: 3.2L CDI DOHC 16-valve intercooled turbo diesel
    Power: 147Kw @ 3800RPM
    Torque: Torque 441Nm @2000rpm
    Towing Limit: 3000kg*
    Towball Limit: 180–250kg*
    2WD/4WD: 2WD & 4WD (button operated)
    Gearbox: Five-speed automatic ‘Sports’
    RRP: $79,280 (prices correct at time of article)
    *NB: The towing capacity ball weight is reduced when the tow weigh exceeds 2500kg.

    Year: 2009
    Fuel: Diesel
    Engine: 4.5L V8 turbo diesel
    Power: 195KW @ 3400 rpm
    Torque: 650Nm @ 2600rpm
    Towing Limit: 3500kg
    Towball Limit: 350kg
    2WD/4WD: Six-speed automatic
    Gearbox: Five-speed automatic ‘Sports’
    RRP $86,750 (prices correct at time of article)

    Year: 2009
    Fuel: Diesel
    Engine: 3L turbocharged common-rail direct injection
    Power: 127kW @ 3400rpm
    Torque: 410Nm @ 1600–2800rpm
    Towing Limit: 2500kg
    Towball Limit: 250kg
    2WD/4WD: Constant 4WD
    Gearbox: Five-speed automatic
    RRP $88,990* + $2500 for the advance safety pack (prices correct at time of article)

    Year: 2007
    Fuel: Petrol
    Engine: 4L inline six
    Power: 190kW @ 5250rpm
    Torque: 383Nm @ 2500rpm
    Towing Limit: 2300kg
    Towball Limit: 230kg
    2WD/4WD: Constant 2WD
    Gearbox: Four-speed Sports auto
    RRP $20,000 second-hand (prices correct at time of article)

    Year: 2009
    Fuel: Petrol
    Engine: 4.0L MPEFI I6
    Power: 190kW
    Torque: 383Nm
    Towing Limit: 2300kg
    Towball Limit: 230kg
    2WD/4WD: Constant 2WD
    Gearbox: Five-speed auto
    RRP $39,890 (prices correct at time of article)

    Year: 2009
    Fuel: Diesel
    Engine: 2.5L (2488cc) common rail intercooled diesel DOHC
    Power: 128kW @ 4000rpm
    Torque: 403Nm @ 2000rpm
    Towing Limit: 3000kg
    Towball Limit: 300kg
    2WD/4WD: 2WD & 4WD (switch operated)
    Gearbox: Six-speed manual
    RRP $48,400 (prices correct at time of article)

    Year: 2009
    Fuel: Diesel
    Engine: 2.5L (2488cc) common-rail intercooled turbo diesel DOHC
    Power: 128kW @ 4000rpm
    Torque: 403Nm @ 2000rpm
    Towing Limit: 3000kg
    Towball Limit: 300kg
    2WD/4WD: 2WD & 4WD (switch operated)
    Gearbox: Five-speed auto
    RRP $50,110 (prices correct at time of article)



    1. Prado/Pajero
    2. Fairmont
    3. Territory


    • LandCruiser
    • Navara 1 & 2
    • Patrol
    • Winnebago


    1. LandCruiser/Fairmont
    2. Prado
    3. Pajero
    4. Territory
    5. Patrol
    6. Navara 1 & 2


    1. LandCruiser
    2. Pajero
    3. Prado
    4. Fairmont
    5. Territory
    6. Patrol
    7. Navara 1 & 2


    1. LandCruiser
    2. Pajero/Prado
    3. Patrol
    4. Navara 1 & 2


    1. Territory
    2. Fairmont
    3. Winnebago


    Winnebago Fiat Ducato: 12.78 Diesel
    Nissan Navara 1: 16.81 Diesel
    Mitsubishi Pajero: 16.97 Diesel
    Toyota Prado: 17.78 Diesel
    Toyota LandCruiser: 19.15 Diesel
    Nissan Navara 2: 20.12 Diesel
    Nissan Patrol: 20.98 Diesel
    Ford Territory: 21.06 Petrol
    Ford Fairmont: 21.54 Petrol
    All vehicles were driven with overdrive off and air-conditioner turned on

    0–80KM/H: 12.2
    0–110KM/H: 22.6 (Highlight)

    0–80KM/H: 14.81
    0–110KM/H: 28.65

    0–80KM/H 16.68
    0–110KM/H: 33.54

    0–110KM/H: 24.5

    0–80KM/H 11.45 (Highlight)
    0–110KM/H: 26.03

    0–80KM/H 24.07
    0–110KM/H: 42.07

    Navara 1
    0–80KM/H 17.25
    0–110KM/H: 37.09

    Navara 2
    0–80KM/H 14.6
    0–110KM/H: 28.0



    1. LandCruiser
    2. Pajero
    3. Territory


    1. Prado
    2. Fairmont
    3. Patrol
    4. Winnebago
    5. Navara 1 & 2

    Caravans were provided by Parravans Caravan World
    130 Windsor Road, McGraths Hill NSW 2756
    Ph: (02) 4577 5577
    [email protected]


    2015 Pajero Sport 4x4
    1996 3.5v6 Pajero (For Sale)

    Carpe Diem Scrotum
    Give a man a beer, waste an hour. Teach a man to brew, and waste a lifetime!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Thanked: 2022


    Thanks for your research.
    Don't hold your breath for an enthusiastic response on this site

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Thanked: 1048


    First the triton,Ute of the year,now the paj,towing vehicle of the year.8)
    Cant wait to have the higher output 3.2 released in the triton sometime soon,HOPEFULLY.Heard they are gonna bring out the 2.5 with 144kw.Not sure if that would be in S.A though

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Lonehill (JHB)
    Thanked: 37


    Shame daar is seker nie Land Rover dealers in Oz nie
    What about Nissan Patrol or even a Merc GL/ML ? Surely they must be up there?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Thanked: 2022


    Nissan Patrol was tested, came 5th.

    Reading between the lines: one has to suspect they had a matrix scoring system. The Pajero managed to hit the podium in most categories (like Alonso in the second half of the season) to make it to the top of the pile (unlike Alonso in the last race).

    The fact that the Cruiser was out-scored makes one think that a Merc or a Jeep wouldn't have made much difference to the outcome.

    All this test confirms (what Pajero owners alrready knew) is that the Pajero is a well balanced all-round performer.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Thanked: 243


    Quote Originally Posted by RoelfleRoux View Post
    All this test confirms (what Pajero owners alrready knew) is that the Pajero is a well balanced all-round performer.
    I'll agree there. I do not own one but drive one quite regularly, and I wasn't too surprised by the results. I really enjoy that vehicle.
    2014 Mitsubishi Pajero Sport
    Sorted for camping away from the crowds.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Kempton Park
    Thanked: 21


    Quote Originally Posted by RoelfleRoux View Post
    All this test confirms (what Pajero owners alrready knew) is that the Pajero is a well balanced all-round performer.
    That is so true. Its not the best this or the best that, but is - in general - good enough at everything.
    Bite off more than you can chew - then chew!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Thanked: 0


    Thanks Simon, it surely made for some interesting reading. Like it has been said before, Pajero might not be the best in anything, but if you keep on coming second in every category, then you will end up high in the ranks. On an overall package perspective, the Paj is still one of those "good, decent, honest, working behind the scenes, fair deal" kind of vehicles. The Paj is (in my opinion anyway) and never was a "lime-light" vehicle.


    Stock standard 99 Pajero 3.5

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Thanked: 7


    Wonder why they call the Prado "KAKAdu" in Auz

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Greenstone hill, Edenvale
    Thanked: 5


    Quote Originally Posted by SimonB View Post
    No doubt many will cry foul but interesting nonetheless
    woohoo Pajero wins. I believe I bought the right vehicle. Mine does better on fuel consumption towing a Xcape. Test vehicle did 5.9km/lt and mine averages around 7km/lt.

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