2016 Toyota Fortuner GXL v Mitsubishi Pajero Sport Exceed comparison
If you’re in the market for a rugged, yet family-friendly SUV, then it’s hard to go past these two contenders: the 2016 Mitsubishi Pajero Sport and the 2016 Toyota Fortuner.
Both are diesel-powered, both are priced close to one another in the trim levels we have here – the Mitsubishi being the flagship Pajero Sport Exceed, and the Toyota the mid-spec Fortuner GXL – and both are going under scrutiny here so we can see which we would recommend as the best rugged off-road family vehicle at this price point. …
You may be thinking: “Wait there, didn’t CarAdvice already give the win to the Toyota? Remember that 4×4 family SUV mega test that the guys did early in 2016?”
Well, you’re right: we did crown the Toyota champion of the segment – chiefly because the Pajero Sport didn’t offer seven seats. But now it does. And that could be a game-changer…
So, can the Toyota hold on to its spot at the top of the rugged SUV crowd? Or will the now more practical Mitsubishi claw its way up the rankings? Let’s find out.
Pricing and specifications
The Toyota Fortuner GXL won our SUV mega test because it argued the most convincing case among its peers, and at $55,990 plus on-road costs it was well and truly in the mix in terms of pricing.
But we’ve now got the seven-seat version of the Pajero Sport Exceed, which is still more affordable than the Toyota at $52,750 plus on-road costs, but it’s now more functional than it used to be. That’s right – the price hasn’t changed, but the practicality has been bumped up a seat or two.
And despite being more affordable, the Mitsubishi gives the Toyota a bit of a spanking for standard equipment.
The Mitsubishi has safety extras that the Toyota misses including forward collision mitigation (autonomous emergency braking) with mis-acceleration mitigation (where the car won’t move forward if you accidently hit the throttle and there’s something in front of the vehicle), plus it has blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and a surround-view camera.
The Toyota misses out on all that high-tech safety kit: it has a rear-view camera and rear sensors, but that’s it.
Further, the Toyota has cloth trim instead of leather, halogen headlights instead of LEDs, 17-inch wheels instead of 18s
Neither car has satellite navigation, but the Mitsubishi’s media system offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, meaning you can use your phone’s mapping software to tell you where you’re heading, provided you remain in data-friendly phone range. But, that could simply be a limitation of the phone’s operating system, given Android Auto allows the installation of extra applications, making offline maps a viable option.
Other good stuff the Mitsubishi gets that the Toyota doesn’t includes heated seats with electric adjustment up front, digital radio reception, auto wipers, and it’s got a longer warranty – five years, over three – and a longer capped price service program. You really can’t argue against the value of this thing.
Now, those third-row seats…
As we’ve intimated above, the big reason the Mitsubishi didn’t win the test last time was that it lacked third-row seats. In fact, that was the only reason.
Sounds like we can call this over now, then, yeah? The Mitsubishi should win against the Toyota because its biggest flaw has been addressed, and it’s still cheaper…
Perhaps, but rather than take an early-mark on this test, let’s look at the execution of each SUV’s third-row seating.
Neither of these SUVs has the more traditional and space efficient mechanism that sees the seats fold flat into the floor.
In the Pajero Sport the seat bases fold forward and the uprights fold down flat. If you need even more boot space, the second row rolls and tumbles, and the third row bases tuck away.
In the Fortuner, the seats fold upwards and latch onto the head lining, meaning you can never use the full width of the boot. When you fold them down they latch on to the floor, and with the second row folded you’ve got good space, but those third row seats are still in the way.
As for occupant space, there’s barely anything in it between these two: both are fine for younger people or smaller adults, but taller occupants may find themselves a little cramped, particularly for head room – and if you’re off-road, there could be bumped heads as a result. There’s probably just a touch more space in the Mitsubishi in the back row, so if that’s vital to you…
Another point worth considering is that those in the third row get a better view out the side windows in the Pajero Sport than they do in the Toyota, because of the way the C-pillar is shaped.