2012 is going to be a big year for Mitsubishi with many new products and new options on the horizon.
This year the Challenger will now be offered in both four wheel drive and two wheel drive and I think the option to leave a set of driving wheels off the car makes a whole lot of sense.
Not everyone requires the five seater wagon’s four wheel drive capability, so the entry level wagon is a great option, leaving you with $4500 savings left in the pocket.
Obviously Mitsubishi have done a fair amount of research into the type of drivers who buy the Challenger in lieu of their likeable Triton and decided that the market is there for a 2WD Challenger.
The two forms of the Challenger look identical except for badging and obviously no 4WD control function in the 2WD. Taking an overall look at factory specs reveals very little difference between the two different vehicles.
One item of importance is that the two versions have identical tow capability so there’s nothing lost in that department. Both can tow a 3000kg braked trailer, 750kg unbraked trailer and have identical 300kg trailer download capacity so the choice for a potential buyer comes down to proposed use, budgetary constraints and general overall appeal.
In situations where you will be launching and retrieving larger boats on a steep sort of ramp that’s likely to be wet or if you’re planning on towing a camper van along the beach next Easter, then the 4WD Challenger’s capability is going to provide peace of mind. On the other hand if you never travel off road, why spend the money
The five seater 2WD Challenger is available in both five speed manual or auto models linked to the proven 2.5L turbo diesel engine with 131 kW of power and 35 Nm of torque in the auto and 400Nm in the manual.
The five speed auto as reviewed was a pleasure to drive. Admittedly the vehicle was not quite standard. Fitted with a $3,640 convenience pack the steering wheel and gear selector had leather trim, there were wheel mounted audio controls, a rear vision mirror reversing camera, side and curtain air bags, a six speaker sound system, climate control air, 17” alloy wheels, modified grille, roof rails and fog lights. The convenience pack is a pretty sound investment in comfort and convenience as I saw it. However it should be noted that Cruise Control was standard.
Interior finish has been upgraded for 2012 with a two tone brushed metal and grey highlighted by small areas of chrome as well. The seats were made from soft, grey fabric which highlighted other interior appointments nicely and were quite comfortable with the low squab making it easy to move in or out of the car.
On the road the 2WD Challenger with its rear wheel drive proved a great all rounder. It was ideal for city driving during the week, would be handy for fun on the weekends, but overall it was a willing beast with high levels of comfort and a surprising lack of noise at top highway speeds.
The 2.5L four cylinder common rail diesel engine clatters a little at idle but is remarkably quiet on the move. It also has a strong, yet entirely under stressed feel about it but will smartly rev to the 4750rpm red line at changes if required to.
I found the five speed auto with it’s ‘tiptronic’ manual over ride and steering column paddles for even easier manual gear changing, offered seamless changes for general city or highway driving.
Mitsubishi claim a fuel consumption rate of 9.6L per 100km for the auto, which I went fairly close to achieving at 10.1L per 100km on a mix of heavy traffic and highway work to Warwick and back. The tank is 70L capacity.
On the highway at speed the Challenger’s steering has a centre weighted feel about it that’s quite reassuring, but the all coil suspension can be a little soft on prolonged corners with a little body roll and some under steer coming into play.
The upside to the all coil suspension is total passenger comfort over most surfaces with a particularly well insulated ride experienced over some of the somewhat undulating back roads between Aratula and Beaudesert, which I encountered.
The cargo capacity of the Challenger – in any guise – is a strong point and with the full sized spare wheel slung below the main body, there’s a 1017mm long, 1375mm wide and 1027mm high cargo area available with the rear seats upright; dropping them near doubles the rear cargo area when necessary.
My view is that these vehicles should do well for Mitsubishi in their 2012 year sales. They offer a lot at a standard sub $40,000 price point and when backed by the 10 year 160,000km power train warranty; 5 year 130,000km whole of vehicle warranty; and 5 year 130,000km road side assist program, then buyers have some serious peace of mind with their investment.Reads: 3045