If an ultra luxury SUV is not what you are interested in then how about one that you can race through shrubs and bushes in the bundus without cringing? These two medium size SUVs certainly fit the bill.
I travelled hundreds of kilometres in each to sample their mettle and shall attempt to summarise their abilities in a few paragraphs.
The Mitsubishi Pajero Sport and I crossed seven counties from Nairobi via Kiambu to Murang’a, up to Kirinyaga for a brief stop over in Nyeri before proceeding to Swiss International Resort Mount Kenya in Naru Moru and finally Nanyuki. I was having so much fun I dashed to Naivasha just to confirm it is up to the task.
The Ford Everest adventure had a different twist and I travelled down to South Africa and drove to Entabeni Safari Conservancy in the attractive Waterberg region of Limpopo province in search of an answer.
They are two very different vehicles. The Ford Everest combines a handsome demeanour and rugged off-road ability with a very a comfortable ride while the Mitsubishi blends gorgeous curves with an edgy design that is sure to get you noticed.
While the Pajero seems to have spent enough time at the Spa, the Ford seemed to love the gym. That said both vehicles proved to have credible off road abilities.
The Everest boasts an intelligent four-wheel drive system, an active transfer case with Torque on Demand and ground clearance of 225 mm. It will swim in a water depth of 800mm.
The advanced new Terrain Management System gives drivers four settings — Normal, Snow/Gravel/Grass, Sand and Rock– that alter the vehicle’s throttle response, transmission, intelligent four-wheel drive system and traction control to confidently tackle any situation. For extreme off-road environments, drivers can manually lock the transfer case in low-range four-wheel drive mode for increased control.
The Pajero will wade in water of 700mm and climb up accents of 45 degrees. Despite its looks, it has a 30 degree approach angle and 24.2 degree departure angle.
Mitsubishi’s Super Select II 4WD system delivers performance in the most challenging driving conditions and rugged terrains. This advanced technology provides four driving modes: 2WD High Range, Full Time 4WD and 4WD High and Low Range with locked centre differential.
An easy-to-operate four-wheel-drive selector dial allows switching between 2WD and 4WD on the move at speeds under 100km/h.
The Pajero Sport’s double wish-bone with coil spring and stabiliser bar front, and three-link coil spring with stabiliser bar rear suspension make for a smooth and comfortable except in corners where you will need to slow down or lose grip at the rear.
It comes with a 2.4L MIVEC Turbo Diesel Engine but it is the pairing with the 8-speed automatic transmission that provides the optimum balance of engine power and fuel economy. Power is modest at 133kW at 3500rpm, while maximum torque is 430Nm peaking at 2500rpm.
The Ford Everest has an additional engine option to choose from. The 3.2 produces 147kW with torque of 470Nm. The 2.2 litre engine I tested has 118kW and 385Nm of torque so the Pajero seats neatly between these in terms of power.
Ford opted for a six speed transmission which compromises the driving experience as you keep feeling the need to an extra cog or two. The Everest is available in three specification levels, starting off with the XLS-spec 2.2 Auto 4x2, as well as the Manual 4x4 and 4x2. The 3.2 Auto 4x4 is available in XLT specification as well as the top of the range limited.
To improve cabin quietness, Ford equipped the all-new Everest with Active Noise Cancellation technology in addition to optimising cabin sealing and sound absorbing materials throughout the vehicle.
Similar to the systems used in noise-cancelling headphones, Active Noise Cancellation uses three strategically placed microphones inside the cabin to detect and measure sounds.
The Pajero lets in a considerable amount of exterior noise, lowering its premium feel somewhat.
Both of these premium vehicles are good looking and it now will boil down to your individual taste. Both are intelligent with a long list of high tech features like the Smartphone Link Display Audio (SPA) with Bluetooth connectivity in Mitsubishi and Fords
SYNC 2 providing intuitive in-car connectivity and allows you to control several features including climate control. You have 10 speakers in the Everest and eight in the Pajero so if you are an audiophile you smile might be wider in the Everest. Both offer leather interior and Sunroof is standard in the Pajero and only available higher up in the pricier Everest.
Mitsubishi do not want to confuse you and offer a choice of only one spec at Sh6.6 million while the Everest gives you a mountain of choice from the basic 2.2 standard starting at Sh 5.9 million to the top of the range Limited with the 3.2 litre engine at Sh7.9 million.
Which is better to drive?
Thanks to the 8-speed gearbox, the Mitsubishi was certainly more balanced than the 2.2 Ford, except when cornering hard of course.
Both vehicles have lots of creature comforts loaded in to make your ownership very rewarding, so now that you have a sneak preview of the key features, go get a test drive and decide for yourself.