Mitsubishi has been building four-wheel drives since 1937.
And, as any fan of the Tri-Diamond will tell you, those 4×4 Mitsubishis have become legends on the World Rally Championship and Dakar Rally race circuits. Tommi Makinen won four straight WRC championships in his Lancer Evos, and truly radical race-prepped Pajeros took 12 overall Dakar titles between 1985 and 2007, including seven straight from 2001 to 2007.
Our far more humble third-generation 2001 Pajero Exceed began life as a Japanese domestic market vehicle. Known as the V60, and the Montero in North American markets, it is equipped with a 3.5L V6 petrol engine, and electronically controlled multi-mode four-wheel-drive. That V6 features GDI, Mitsubishi’s version of direct gasoline injection, a finicky technology that Mitsubishi was the first to incorporate in mass-produced vehicles. It has a locking center differential and independent coil-sprung suspension on all four corners.
It’s a large wagon – bigger than any vehicle we have ever owned – but it wears its weight easily. The “Paj” is a comfortable long distance highway cruiser, and handles corrugated gravel roads with particular skill. More technical off-road trails can be a challenge, however, as break-over angle and wheel articulation are its main limiting factors.
It has taken us all over Botswana – churning fully loaded through deep sands across the Kalahari desert, navigating the late wet-season mud on the salt pans in Makgadikgadi, dodging livestock on Botswana’s highways, and only getting stuck once. We have a number of projects in line for our daily-driver adventure machine, but we plan to keep it relatively stock like we did with our Jeep. We even sleep in it.
With one more year of travel on tap for us in Africa, there are many more kilometers ahead for this big, blue beast. Follow along with our Pajero’s odyssey right here on Venturesome Overland!