Getting into outdoor leisure may require a major purchase — a good car. It doesn’t have to be expensive, it just has to fit your lifestyle and your chosen endeavour. We also need it to be reliable, and we need some decent space to carry our gear. Of course, it has to have the looks, some swag if you may. As ‘good looks’ is subjective, I wouldn’t mind if anyone here disagrees that my Pajero Sport is a good looking car — you are not the first one, trust me. 🙂
Now let’s get on with it.
There are a number of factors to consider when buying a new car and if you are like me, budget is going to be one of the biggest ones, if not the biggest. However, you don’t just settle for something because it is within your budget, you would want to get the best car within your range — bang for your buck as they say.
Let me tell you a story. I love telling stories. Bear with me.
It was year 2016, after 2 years of working in Canberra, finally, I landed a job in Melbourne. It marked the end of my 16-hour bus rides on weekends. On top of that, our humble home will be built and expected to finish by mid-2017. Then the missus got pregnant – baby will be out by mid-2017 as well. It feels like one of those “when the Universe conspires” moments — everything seems to fall perfectly into place.
A new job, a new home, a baby. What’s missing? A family car. Not just any family car, we love adventures. And by adventure I mean long drives and occasional trips to places where sedans wouldn’t dare. And I will also need some muscle for my DIY projects e.g. Bunnings trips… and more Bunnings trips — a utility vehicle.
So preferences are a comfy interior to ferry the whole family, a relatively higher ground clearance and a strong capable engine. Clearly, I need an SUV. It is, after all, the current trend.
Why the Pajero Sport?
I have read and watched reviews and comparison videos/blogs and the PS ends up on top, maybe four times out of five. Its close competitors are the Toyota Fortuner, Ford Everest and the Isuzu MUX. Before I started reading and watching reviews, the MUX was what I had in mind. I just liked its presence every time I saw one and it’s got a 3.0L diesel engine. I had this notion that when it comes to engines, bigger is always better — not really these days.
My next pick was the Ford Everest, in fact it was so hyped up in Australia before its release that I was kind of waiting for it to finally hit the market. Patiently waiting and saving all my money so I can hand it over to Ford’s men in ties. And when it did, it was too expensive! At least for me. The top spec model at that time was around $82k – way above my pay grade. The base and mid spec models were within my reach but, nope. Still too expensive for what it had to offer (just my opinion).
When I started watching comparison videos and some blogs, the PS started to make some impression, it’s winning almost every single time. The only problem I had was I never liked the way it looks, at least in photos. I haven’t really seen one on the road at that point. Too fancy and a bit too flashy for a legit off-roader, and that ass (sorry for the language) looks a little off. As much as I tried to steer away from it, I just can’t, there were just too many good feedbacks to pass this one up.
Moment of truth
After months of weighing things up, I thought the only thing that makes sense is to test drive a PS. You know, let’s give it a chance. So we went to a local Mitsubishi dealer and there it was, massive, beautiful. Much better than what I see in photos. Knowing that the usual issue with 7-seaters is the 3rd row space, I went straight into it. Feels just right for me, in fact, it is much better than I expected. I’m 5’8″ and there’s almost nobody (there’s one, there’s that one bloody brother) in the family who is taller than me. Then I went to the driver’s seat. Straight away it felt like home. Maybe because I used to drive my uncle’s 2000 model L200 ute for like my whole college life. So much memories in that car.
With all the research that I have done, and how I actually liked the way it looks, there wasn’t much to test. I don’t think a 5-minute drive around the block would have changed my mind either way, so there was no need for it. Done deal.
Oh and I forgot to mention, I did check the competitors. Same “feeling out” process that I did with the PS, and the PS did win in my books.
Do I really need 7 seats?
I’ll take you back to when I did not even consider a 7-seater. My eyes were set on the Jeep Grand Cherokee. To be honest, that is still the best looking SUV in my opinion. However, when we were expecting a baby, things changed. The missus had an ultimatum – the next car should have 7 seats. Did I mention we love long drives? That’s not just us two, my in-laws as well. Then again they only get to visit us once a year. Do we really need 7 seats?
The answer is, yes. Our PS is a little over 3 years old now and there were times where the extra 2 seats came in really handy. In-laws are in for a vacation, a few friends coming over for a week or two — not a problem. Drives are actually more fun with a full house. Or car for that matter. The third row seats are stowed for about 90% of the time but just like a tow bar, one day you will need it, and you will thank yourself for having it.
What I hate about this car
As much as I love my PS, it is not perfect. Having said, I can try to list down the things I like about it and end up with a long and slightly more off-roady write-up. Because that is where it really shines, off-road performance. Instead, I’m going to list down what I don’t like because there’s just one. I’m lazy like that.
Child seat anchor points – the child seat anchor points are roof mounted, somewhere above the third row. I don’t have the words to describe it so see for yourselves:
I posted this in a PS Facebook group and I received mixed responses. Most people actually like it this way, thinking it is safer compared to the ones that are on the back of the second row seats. For safety reasons, I may agree with them, and besides, my only issue is that I hate seeing those child seat straps. I don’t have an OCD but it does bother me. And I also don’t want my occasional 3rd-row passengers to have this thing in front of them.
There is a reason behind this design though. I did contact Mitsubishi about it and they explained that it is because the 2nd-row seats can be fully folded and tumbled down. Having said, it is not the safest place to anchor your child seats because in an unfortunate event, say a crash, laws of physics will not be in your favour.
So what do you get when you have these seats that can be fully tumbled and folded down? Well, more cargo space when needed and easier access to the 3rd row. I did try another SUV that did not have the tumble down feature and I must say it was quite hard to get in and out of that. So it is not a bad design, it’s just a compromise and it is up to you decide.
Choosing a new car is very much like building a new house. It needs a lot of research and after all that you do, things aren’t really perfect. There will always be little things that annoy and rub the sleeping OCD in you. However, if you do enough research, you can be sure that you will end up with the car that fits your lifestyle, your personality and your budget.
Furthermore, thorough research has given me some knowledge on car prices, technology and current trends. Having some knowledge will definitely give you more confidence and a bit of bargaining power when dealing with sales people. And yes, I did save a good $3000 for that. Not bad for a first-time buyer I guess.
Geared for the outdoors
As we look forward to our next adventure, I am sharing some photos of my ultimate adventure-slash-family-slash-utility-slash-everything car.
See you in the next adventure!