We drove the mid-range Mitsubishi Pajero Sport GLS, a seven-seat, SUV family car. I'm always really excited to test the family aimed cars as they should be really family, child and user-friendly, making my week driving them a breeze! Shouldn’t they? Let's find out…
Well with the Pajero Sport it felt like Mitsubishi did a good job at making a good modern vehicle, that drove relatively quietly and smoothly compared to others in its category. The media system was easy to use and it has Apple Car Play and Android Auto. The interior was very nice with very comfy seats trimmed in leather, and so easy to wipe clean. There is also a lit illustration on the dashboard to tell you which seatbelts are fastened and which are not, a useful feature in a seven-seater as I imagine by the time you have called the seatbelt roll one will have undone it again!
And this is where the BabyDrive practicality positives stop, unfortunately!
It felt like Mitsubishi had put no thought into the user functionality of this vehicle. I just don’t know where to start!
I would think that the Pajero Sports main target market will be families as it is a seven-seater. So there will need to be child seats installed, people will need to get in and out of the back row of seats, they will need as much boot space as possible and storage for drinks etc for general everyday ease of use.
There are no top tethers in the third row of seats, so you can only install child seats in the second row of seats. There is ISOFix in the two outer seats, embedded in the seat base in slits in the fabric. I found them tricky to connect because of the surrounding fabric.
The only top tether point fitted as standard is for the central seat and that is located in the ceiling above the third-row passengers' heads, meaning anything you connect to it will be obstructing the rear passengers' vision and the driver's rear visibility.
Not to mention the fact that the two do not match up! Most modern car seats in Australia use both top tether and ISOFix (ours does) to connect to the car, so I was a little stumped when I went to install my daughter's child seat 30 minutes before daycare pick-up to find I could not install it in any of the seats! Time was ticking so I looked in the glove box for the manual and I found a second top tether anchor point in a bag and instructions to install it yourself! Also, it said to remove it after each use!! You also need a ‘torque wrench’ to install it and I had no idea what that was or how to use it!
When our daughter was born I had no idea how to fit a child seat in a car and found the whole thing overwhelming and I think most people do, so to install your own top tether point and un-install it each time is asking a bit too much, Mitsubishi!! I quickly popped the child seat into our own car and dealt with the Pajero Sport later!!
I would hope that something that is a legal requirement in a passenger vehicle was installed by the manufacturer at the factory or at least before it leaves the showroom to ensure it is correctly fitted not left to new parents, who have by far enough new things to be getting to grips with, to purchase at an extra $33 each!
With all the top tethers installed, I did manage to physically fit three child seats across the second row of seats. However, the middle seatbelt strap comes from the ceiling behind rather than the shoulder of the seat, causing issues for rear passenger and driver visibility, but also it goes across the throat of a primary school aged child rather than across their chest, which would be very uncomfortable.
The central seat's other issue is the seatbelt buckle. It sticks so far up in the air on a rigid stick with a super hard casing that makes it impossible for anyone to sit there comfortably as it is right in your buttock!!! Also, you cannot bend it around a child seat base.
In the end, I installed the Mountain Buggy Protect infant capsule rear-facing on one side and the Infasecure Kompressor4 rear-facing on the other side, with the Infasecure Foldaway booster seat in the centre.
The second row of seats does not slide forward in order to get through to the back seats, meaning you have to uninstall a child seat, bring the seat back forward for the rear kids to climb in and then re-install your child seat!!
The third-row passengers need to watch their heads climbing in and out too as those top tether anchor points once they’re installed are perfectly positioned to hit your head on, as we found on a few occasions!
The third row of seats fold up when you don’t need them to give you extra boot space, however, they fold up onto the back of the middle seats, instead of folding flat into the floor like in most vehicles. This uses a lot of boot space that would be much more appreciated as storage space.
There is a storage area under the first part of the boot which I found useful for wet and dirty items as it is plastic I could clean it out easily.
As a seven-seater, I could get five shopping bags in the boot but our Mountain Buggy Urban Jungle stroller would not fit.
As a five-seater, I could fit our Mountain Buggy Urban Jungle stroller and six shopping bags beside it.
There are aircon vents for all three rows of seats. The second and third rows have vents in the ceiling at the side of the car and the rear controls are central in the ceiling with the interior lights. I found my rear-facing child seat passenger at the side of the car found the position of the vents meant the airflow was too direct for them and uncomfortable. Thankfully Mitsubishi has put the master switch in the front dashboard for the driver to be able to turn the rear air on and off so I was able to stop it.
My final big gripe for BabyDrive unfriendliness is the airbags. There are seven as standard in the Pajero Sport but the lowest spec GLX model has no airbags for the third seat passengers! In the GLS and Exceed the side curtain airbags extend to the back of the car giving protection to the third-row seats but the GLX they stop at the second row. Insert angry face! So as you mainly put youngsters in the furthest back seats as they are normally the only ones that fit, it really does pay to go up a model if you are looking at this vehicle for your family.
In summary, the Pajero Sport was an enjoyable in terms of the drive, engine and comfort. But the practicality and usability for a family could have been much better executed!