The Mitsubishi Pajero, known as the Mitsubishi Montero in North America and Spanish-speaking countries, and as Mitsubishi Shogun in the United Kingdom, is an SUV built by Mitsubishi Motors. The name Montero (meaning "mountain warrior") was used because Pajero is slang for wanker in Spanish.
Thanks to its worldwide popularity, the Pajero (and Montero) names were also applied to other, unrelated models. The Pajero Mini is a keicar-sized SUV available only in Japan. The Mitsubishi Pajero iO (sold in Europe as the Pajero Pinin or Montero iO), is a smaller SUV, similar in size to the Toyota RAV4 and the Honda CR-V. The Japanese Mitsubishi Challenger was renamed as the Pajero Sport and Montero Sport in most export markets.
The first Pajero I prototype was unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show in November of 1973. The Pajero II prototype followed in 1978, five years later. Mitsubishiâ€™s aim was to create more of a recreational vehicle, not just a workhorse, as Mitsubishi Motors has been Japanâ€™s biggest four wheel drive manufacturer before World War II.
The first generation made its debut at the Tokyo Motor Show in October of 1981, and hit the markets the following May. Initially, it was a three door, short wheel base model available with a metal or canvas top and three different engines options: a 2.0 liter gas, 2.3 liter naturally aspirated diesel and a 2.3 liter turbocharged diesel. It was loaded with features never before seen on a Japanese four wheel drive; a turbocharged diesel engine, a front double wishbone suspension with torsion bar springs, power steering and suspension seats. This made the Pajero a four wheel drive vehicle which integrated all the amenities of a passenger car. In January 1983, only a year following its launch, mildly tuned production Pajeros entered the world of motor sport. The Pajero, however, failed to appeal to everyone. It was seen to be a commercial vehicle, and since it was only available in a short wheel base form, it didnâ€™t really appeal to those with families. Hence, in February of 1983, Mitsubishi came out with a long wheel base, five door model, to serve the needs of a larger target market. The long wheel base model was available with a choice of two different engines; a 2.0 liter turbocharged gas and a 2.3 liter turbocharged diesel. The long wheel base model also increased seating capacity to seven, with available third row seats, which could be folded to the sides for additional trunk space or combined with second row seats to form a bed. The Pajero was further refined in June 1984. The turbo diesel engines now had higher horsepower/torque ratings, whilst the long wheel base models got standard four wheel disc brakes and four way adjustable shock absorbers as standard equipment. In January 1985, the first Pajero made its debut at the Paris â€“ Dakar Rally, surprisingly taking first place. To date, the Pajero continues to the one of the most successful vehicles in the Paris â€“ Dakar Rally. This not only gave the Pajero a rugged reputation, but also helped in the department of sales. Four months later, in April 1985, the Pajero set another standard: an available four speed automatic transmission and standard ELR seatbelts. A new flagship model was then introduced in early 1987, with a two-tone paintjob, fifteen inch light alloy wheels, front seat heaters, wool seat covers, genuine leather headrests, a three spoke steering wheel and a sound system with radio/cassette. Finally in 1988, a 3.0 liter SOHC V6 engine was made available, alongside a 2.5 liter turbo diesel engine, with the first 4x4 intercooler. This translated to better acceleration in mid to high rev ranges. The long wheel base models got a leaf spring rear suspension, which formed a coil link suspension system for better ride comfort and off-road ability.
Mitsubishi sold over three thousand Pajeros in 1989 and 1990. However, the time for a redesign was long due and 1992 saw the first Generation II Pajero. Just about everything was now new and further enhanced. A new, larger body was available in four different versions; Metal Top, Canvas Top Convertible, Semi High Roof Wagon and High Roof Wagon (long wheel base). The short wheel base models where stretched by 70 millimeters (2.8 inches) and the long wheel base models by 30 millimeters (1.2 inches). The available engines included a 3.0 liter 12-valve SOHC with ECI-Multi electronic fuel injection and a 2.5 liter turbocharged diesel engine with an intercooler. The second generation also saw the introduction of Super Select 4WD (SS4) [known as ActivTrak 4WD in some markets] and multimode ABS, which were firsts on Japanese four wheel drives. SS4 was ground-breaking in the sense that it combined the advantages of part time and fulltime four wheel drive with four available options: 2H (high range rear wheel drive), 4H (high range fulltime four wheel drive), 4HLc (high range four wheel drive with locked center differential and 4LLc (low range four wheel drive with locked center differential). Another advantage of this system is that it gave the driver the ability to switch between rear wheel drive and fulltime four wheel drive at speeds up to 100 km/h (64 MPH). Multimode ABS, on the other hand, was equally innovative. This meant ABS would be fully functional in all modes of SS4, as braking with a locked center differential requires completely different braking parameters. In July of 1993, two new power plants were introduced; a 3.5 liter 24-valve DOHC with ECI-Multi and a 2.8 liter turbocharged diesel with an intercooler. A new, larger transmission and transfer case was also part of the upgrade. The Pajero Evolution was introduced in October 1997, which was developed in response to new entry requirements for the Paris â€“ Dakar Rallyâ€™s T3 Class. The Pajero Evolution came standard with a 3.5 liter 24-valve DOHC V6 with Mitsubishi Innovative Valve Timing and Electronic Lift Control (MIVEC). A new, dual plenum variable intake helped increase horsepower and a new suspension made the ride even smoother. In 1998, vehicles destined for General Export and the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council Countries) received a facelift. Wider fenders, new headlights, grille, bumper, fog lights and sidesteps. Driver and front passenger SRS airbags were made standard, whilst an upgraded interior wood trim was made available. A leather-wrapped or leather and wood trim steering wheel was also made available, alongside an upgraded suspension and steering system. The 3.0 liter 12-valve SOHC engine was now upgraded to a 24-valve configuration.
The third generation Pajero hit the Japanese Domestic Market in 1999, whilst it was made available to other markets in late 2000 as a 2001 model. The vehicle was completely redesigned, inside and out and now has a lower, wider stance. A lower center of gravity meant the Pajero had better on-road handling manners, whilst the new body has over three hundred percent more torsional rigidity. The biggest change to bring this about is that the Pajero now utilizes a unibody construction, as opposed to the previous body-on-frame. This also helped give the Pajero a longer suspension stroke. The fuel tank was also strategically placed between the axles for better safety. The SS4 system was also further refined, as bevel gears were replaced with planetary ones. This meant the front-to-rear torque setting ranged from 33 to 67, with the ability to adjust to 50/50 depending on surface conditions. The system was also made fully electronic, which meant the vehicle didnâ€™t have to be in gear to switch between drive modes. After all the upgrades, the system was renamed to Super Select 4WD II (SS4-II). Alongside rack and pinion steering (as opposed to the recirculating ball system on previous generations), the Pajero also offered a choice of three transmissions; a five speed manual, a four speed INVECS-II automatic and a five speed INVECS-II tiptronic. An all-new 3.8 Liter SOHC 24-valve V6 powerplant was also introduced on this generation. This engine utilizes an Electronic Throttle Valve (ETV), to deliver a refined cruising power with power to spare for offroad ventures.
The first generation was built from 1982 to 1991. It was available with a 3-door body for a short wheelbase (SWB) or a 5-door body for a long wheelbase (LWB). Engines included a 2.4 L I4 with 82 kW (110 hp/112 PS), a 3.0 L V6 with EFI and 104 kW (139 hp/141 PS) and a turbocharged 2.5 L OHV diesel I4 with 62 kW (83 hp/84 PS) or an intercooled 70 kW (94 hp/95 PS). Non-permanent four wheel drive was standard on all models. It was later built under license by Hyundai Precision Products as the Hyundai Galloper from 1991 to 2003, and briefly exported to Europe.
The second generation was built from 1992 to 2000. It retained the two body styles, but design was rounder and more city-friendly than the previous bulky model. The 3.0 L V6 gasoline engine was retained, now with a 24-valve head, capable of 136 kW (183 hp/185 PS), while the 2.5 turbodiesel's power was slightly increased to 73 kW (98 hp/99 PS). In 1996, the Pajero was slightly restyled, and larger engines were introduced, a 3.5 L V6 with 153 kW (205 hp/208 PS) and a 2.8 L SOHC turbodiesel rated at 92 kW (123 hp/125 PS). These versions introduced Mitsubishi's Super Select four wheel drive system, with an electronic transfer shift that could split power between both axles without the need to stop the car. It worked at speeds up to 100 km/h (64 mph).
The short wheel base was called a Dodge Raider in North America. In 2005, Mitsubishi would use the Raider name on a Dodge Dakota clone in North America.
The third generation was introduced in 2001 and is scheduled to be replaced by the end of 2006, having been restyled in 2003. This was the most luxurious of the three generations, moving to a more upscale segment to compete against the Land Rover Discovery, but more importantly, to counter its home rival Toyota Land Cruiser's growth. The 3.0 L engine's power was decreased to 130 kW (175 hp/177 PS), and the 3.5 L engine was given gasoline direct injection, increasing power to 162 kW (217 hp/220 PS) in the Japanese market (export versions kept the standard EFI engine, now with 149 kW (200 hp/203 PS). The 2.8 L Diesel was retained only for developing markets, and was replaced by a new 16-valve direct injection engine, with 3.2 L and 120 kW (161 hp/163 PS).
In the North American market, due to the lack of a V8 engine, the 3.5 L engine was replaced for 2003 by a more powerful 3.8 L unit, with 160 kW (215 hp/218 PS). This engine was later made available to a few export markets such as South America and Australia, whilst it replaced the GDI V6 in the Japanese lineup in 2005. The short wheelbase model is not available in North America, where the Montero is the only SUV in Mitsubishi's lineup with standard four wheel drive. Faced with falling sales, 2006 will be the last year of the Montero for North America. It will largely be replaced by the smaller Endeavor (introduced in 2004).