When it comes to four wheel drives, Mitsubishi have built a reputation on the back of the Pajero and Triton. The Challenger nameplate is another entry into a crowded market and, like the original vehicle, is based on the Triton platform.
The current model clearly displays the family likeness, with the same swoopy front end and the ridgeline in the side profile with a full sheetmetal finish over the Triton’s normal ute style. Prices start for the Challenger range in the mid $30k bracket.
Our test vehicle, the diesel XLS five seater (seven seater is also available), came with a Bluetooth microphone mounted high on the driver’s side windscreen, some plastic woodgrain trim, electric driver’s seat and an interior that, although easy enough on the eye colour wise, can’t see an update soon enough. With the Triton donor chassis itself some years old now, there’s little surprise that the Challenger is behind the eight ball.
The single CD/radio is tucked away in a slot and seemingly an afterthought, the fuel and bonnet releases underneath the steering wheel on the kick panel and not easily accessible unless you’re off the seat, a dot matrix display for the upper dash setup with compass and graph like fuel display….dynamically there’s no doubt the chassis is not meant for sporting driving, suffering from understeer when pushed but there wasn’t a lot of body roll however, thanks to the double wishbone front and coil sprung rear.
As expected, safety isn’t overlooked, with six airbags, the usual stability control, a four channel ABS setup and Mitsubushi’s proprietary Reinforced Impact Safety Evolution (RISE) chassis design, engineered to absorb within the crumple zones any and all impacts.
Engine wise, again the age of the platform was evident through the sheer noise factor. Startup sounded as if there was no oil, acceleration was adequate if not startling, with 350Nm on tap from 1800rpm and twisting a five speed auto, whilst still being excessively noisy (compared to the current crop of new diesels and better noise insulation) and needing the volume on the radio being wound up. On the freeway, the Challenger has a comfortable ride, taking most normal road undulations in its stride but is somewhat sluggish when asked to respond to throttle input.
The exterior is handsome enough and has dated well; the headlight cluster is slightly different to the Triton and is fitted with HID lamps while the driving lights are integrated nicely into the front bumper. It’s a long and smooth profile with an elegant taper to the rear hatch, whilst the high riding position and airy glasshouse provided plenty of vision.
Being a 4wd competitor, there’s a proper transfer case involved as well, with a centre console lever cleanly accessible and providing a decent off road experience. The suspension works hard and does a great job at keeping all four paws dirtside plus it has up to 600 wading depth, with an approach angle of a reasonably steep 35 degrees.
With Mitsubishi’s model cycles due to move to the upgrade soon, although it’s still a competent and comfortable vehicle, the generational change the competitors have underway can’t come quick enough for the Challenger.