The Mitsubishi Challenger is a medium-size 4x4 wagon, which according to the ads, was supposed to offer buyers ‘civilized ruggedness.’ The 1996 to 2000 Mitsubishi Challenger was indeed a nice machine, offering buyers plenty of standard kit, along with Mitsubishi’s Easy Select 4WD system. Utilizing a free-wheeling front axle, the Challenger is able to reduce fuel consumption, while allowing high range to be selected at speeds up to 100 km/h. A limited-slip rear differential was also available as an option.
The MY2001 refresh brought a host of changes, including a new 3-link coil spring rear suspension (the PA Series I Mitsubishi Challenger used rear leaf springs), which smoothed out the ride considerably, allowing it to actually feel ‘civilized.’ The front fascia was reworked with clear headlamps, a new grille, and a pair of driving lights. The rear was also freshened, and a spoiler was added for a sportier appearance (LS). A new set of aggressive alloy wheels replaced the rather truck-like wheels on the previous model, and a luxurious LS model was added to the range.
Both versions of the Mitsubishi Challenger were powered by the same petrol-powered dual overhead cam 3.0L V6, although an updated automatic transmission was offered on post-2001 models. The interior was also updated in 2001 with a two-colour dash, a new centre console, and dual airbags. The Mitsubishi Challenger LS added leather seats, wood grain dash trim, and ABS.
In 2010, the Mitsubishi Challenger was completely redesigned, but instead of the typical monocoque design, Mitsubishi’s medium 4x4 rode on a full ladder-type frame shared with the Triton utility. The sole engine choice was an advanced 2.5L diesel, which came with an intercooled turbo and common-rail injection. This combination yielded an impressive 400Nm of torque, a (braked) tow capacity of 2500kg, and fuel consumption of just 8.3L/100km.
A new 4WD system called Super Select was included in the sleek new package. Like the previous 4WD system, the driver could engage high range at speeds up to 100km/h. A locking rear differential was now standard, along with something called the Mitsubishi All Terrain Technology system. Sometimes referred to as MATT, this system bundles active stability and traction controls, with multi-mode ABS and electronic brakeforce distribution.
Other improvements to the PB Mitsubishi Challenger included a comfortable new interior, with simple, well-positioned controls, and standard side and curtain airbags. A reversing camera and satnav were also available.
The PA Series I & II Mitsubishi Challenger was powered by a 3.0L petrol V6, which was rated at 136kW at 5500rpm and 265Nm of torque at 4500rpm. Fuel consumption was rated at 11.9L/100km to 13.4L/100km, depending on the transmission.
The PB Mitsubishi Challenger was powered by a 2.5L diesel that featured a variable geometry turbo to reduce turbo-lag at lower rpms. This engine was rated at 131kW at 4000rpm and 400Nm of torque at just 2000rpm (with the 5-speed manual). When equipped with the automatic, the Challenger’s torque was reduced to just 350Nm and fuel consumption was rated at 9.8L/100km. Fuel consumption with the 5-speed manual was a more reasonable 8.3L/100km.
Standard equipment for the PA Mitsubishi Challenger included electric windows, central locking, an electric antenna with a cassette player, and air-conditioning. Options included limited-slip differential and anti-lock brakes. The PA Series II Mitsubishi Challenger LS added leather seats, a leather-bound steering wheel, two-tone paint with side mouldings, and a rear spoiler. ABS was also part of the LS package.
The PB Mitsubishi Challenger was available with five or seven seats, and the LS became the base model. It came standard with power windows (auto-down on the driver’s side), remote central locking, cruise control, CD player, a colour dash display, and steering wheel controls for the audio system. The XLS trim added leather seats, wood grain trim, satnav, a premium audio system, reversing camera, fog lights, headlight washers, body side mouldings, and reversing sensors.
The PA Mitsubishi Challenger competed against such 4x4 wagons as the Holden Frontera and Nissan Pathfinder. Mitsubishi’s medium 4x4 offering was similarly capable off road, but it offered a much sportier style, especially in LS trim. The PB Mitsubishi Challenger competes with 4x4s like the Toyota Prado and Ford Territory, but it offers more robust ladder frame construction. Although the 4WD system might not be as advanced as the competition’s systems, the Challenger is still a rugged off roader and a serious value on the used market.