It’s always sad when a storied and accomplished lineage comes to an end with no successor in sight. Today, that fate belongs to the Mitsubishi Pajero. On Wednesday Mitsubishi Motors announced that the illustrious off-roader will cease sales in Japan this August, and that the company will not develop the nameplate any further.
Since 1982, the Pajero (sold in the US as the Mitsubishi Montero and Dodge Raider) has been one of Japan’s flagship SUVs. Combining the comforts of a passenger car with true off-road capabilities, the truck has maintained its rugged body-on-frame construction even as car-based crossovers infiltrated the market. Its rise in popularity during the 80s and 90s coincided with Japan’s RV boom, which spawned countless vehicles for camping and outdoor activity enthusiasts.
What set the Pajero apart, and catapulted it to legend status in Japan and throughout much of Asia, was its dominance in the Paris-Dakar Rally. With 12 victories in one of the world’s toughest off-road competitions — including an unprecedented seven-year streak from 2001-07 — the Pajero made Mitsubishi the winningest marque in the race’s history. That record still stands to this day, even though Mitsubishi hasn’t participated officially since 2007.
Mitsubishi has produced over 3 million Pajeros with over 640,000 sold in Japan, but in recent years domestic sales have declined to just a few hundred a year. The current generation, the Pajero’s fourth, has been on the market since 2006, the same year Mitsubishi halted US sales of the Montero.
To mark the end of the Pajero family tree, Mitsubishi announced a Final Edition model. It will offer the most popular options, such as roof rails and leather upholstery, in a single trim with special badging to denote that it is the last of its kind. Only 700 will be made. Mitsubishi is also offering a commemorative decal set and a serial numbered wristwatch made by Citizen.
Mitsubishi will continue to produce the fourth-gen Pajero in its Gifu Prefecture factory for export. The Pajero is still popular in southeast Asia and Latin America, but how long that will last is unknown. With no development planned for a next generation and already 13 years on the vine for the current one, it’s likely living on borrowed time.
An unbroken 37 years is a long run for any model, but when it’s one as acclaimed as the Pajero, the demise is particularly heartbreaking. Sports cars have been on the decline for decades, but 4x4s, especially ones with competition provenance, seemed as if they’d be able to more easily find a place with enthusiasts as tall, AWD wagons became the vehicular norm. Instead, we see the passing of yet another great machine built with purpose. With all its iconic nameplates save for the Delica now gone or reconstituted as shadows of what they once were, it truly feels like the end of an era for Mitsubishi.
Images courtesy of Mitsubishi.
Sad to hear about the sad demise of the giants of 4 wheel by the name of pajero intercooler
Can’t use Pajero sport for towing vans, 66 ltr too small fuel capacity at 66 ltr. Against 88 for Glx. Prado, good fuel capacity, but way too expensive!
Easy to install a 110L fuel tank though, you can do a lot of mods to a sport and still be far cheaper than a Prado.
But Sports are crao
Rubbish we love ours it’s fabulous.
Then you never really enjoyed pajero. The sport is the challenger, it has nothing like a traditional pajero. And the sports capability off road is very substandard compared to pajero.
At least we can rest easy that they chose not to besmirch it’s good name with some terrible CUV.
Just wait a few years.
I am great fan of pajero, the one 1990 to 1998 is the best and beautiful model, very successful in Pakistan.
I have had 6 4×4’s now have had 2006 exceed for many years and absolutely love driving it. Cannot find anythin
g to replace it. Thanks.
WTF happened to the Nissan merger?
Yet ANOTHER wrong move from Mitsubishi! The kill the iconic Lancer Evolution, and now this! Sales are low, sure they are when you continue to sell the same vehicle year after year with no improvements! Ive been a fan and owner of Mitsubishi cars since 1985. Im so upset with their decisions year, after year! With the termination of the Lancer Evo, they handed subaru the market for 4WD street/rally cars, and now the Pajero! Low sales? Why do you suppose? No proper sales? Selling the same thing with no improvements wont help you! I am a faithful original owner of: 1989 Starion SHP, 2006 Lancer Evo IX-MR, and a 2018 Outlander Sport (RVR/ASX), but Ive owned a total of six Mitsubishis. What a disappointment this company is now. Well my two cars will increase in value…
2006 did 3.2 best vehicle i owned and still drive 350 000 km goingstrong
Great models ending. Others reborn as car-based suburban yuppie transports.
Take a look at the new Chevy Blazer and weep.
The Blazer was particularly egregious! I’d rather see the Pajero stay dead than be reincarnated as such.
then again, nobody complained much when this generation of the Trailblazer was issued https://orangecounty.craigslist.org/cto/d/fullerton-chevy-trailblazer-tl-sport/6870878814.html
I’ll always remember them as they charge across the dunes in the Paris – Dakar Rally. Awesome…
Current Mitsubishi management should be lined up against a brick wall and be shot in the balls, hopeless bunch, never knew how to capitalise on what is good for the company. Pojero set the bench mark for today’s SUV.,a true legend
The Dodge Raider was pickup, not an SUV.
The Dodge Raider was a rebadged Montero (Pajero) 2-door SUV from 1987 to 1989.
You’re thinking of the Mitsubishi Raider, a rebadged/restyled Dodge Dakota pickup from 2006 to 2009.
Sad to see such a legeñd go down? but I am a proud owner of 16 years pajero 3.5 v6
Bring back the original ones they were simple and look cool. If mitsu released a brand new 1985 pajero with a 4b12 cvt or manual I would be the 1st to buy one. Too many features kills cars now.
I agree with Ben. My 1984 built/1985 on the road, 4 cylinder, petrol, manual, LWB Pajero Wagon is still going. It has a reconditioned engine, our 2 kids learnt to drive on it, it’s taken us to many outback areas of Australia, is extremely useful for carrying all sorts of loads & I love it dearly. No frills so not so much to go wrong with it. We also have a newer model so are Pajero fans – what a retrograde step by Mitsubisi to stop making them.
Mitsubishi has been watching the market for quite some years to determine what the next Pajero should be. With diesel fuel’s future looking grim and electric vehicles set to pounce, where does a manufacturer spend it’s development dollars? So Mitsubishi have tried to keep the current Pajero relevant waiting for the market to settle into its new direction. Unfortunately that hasn’t happened in time and the old girl just can’t keep up any more. Not Mitsubishi’s fault. She’s still a good seller in many parts of the world though. Here in Australia she still sells well, though far from topping the charts. Unfortunately though as the gap widens between Paj and the new breed the writing is on the wall. Such a shame.
They only had to develop a small v8 diesel for it and it would have become a world beater. I love my gen 4 3.2 diesel but I think people still like big engines in this type of vehicle.
I owned a Pajero back in the nineties, nice and smooth to drive but useless off road. My mates Hilux repeatedly ran rings round it, then I bought a 12HT Sahara HA HA HA,
Obviously you don’t know how to drive a Pajero off road…My 94 NJ has done every iconic track in Tassie and keeps up to the others with there 3inch lifts and 35’s..
Pick the right line and you will out drive other known brands of 4wd’s…
What!? I have an 88 2 door and it is the most capable truck I have ever owned. I’ve had Troopers and an Fj62 Land Cruiser and my Pajero is small and light enough that it effortlessly crawls over any trail.
I still drive my Gen 1 from 1990, Love it. Full rebuild and is running like a dream.
I guess one day it will end up on blocks.
hard to keep a good heritage since there is Mitsubishi.Renault.Nissan alliance issue going up and down
Well I feel sad about this, but this isn’t the only one which is going to be axed……the Toyota Mark X is also on the list:
Yes, that’s going up tomorrow ?
Crazy, redevelop with a new engine and raise Australian tow capacity to 3500kg and it would be hard to meet market demand
Hey, at least we have the e-Evolution to look forward to.