Mitsubishi was originally founded as a shipping firm in Japan in 1870, before diversifying into a number of different companies in the early 20th century – one of which was Mitsubishi Heavy industries, a division which eventually gave rise to the modern-day Mitsubishi Motor Corporation in 1970. Since then, the car company has grown to become the sixth-largest automotive corporation in Japan, employing over 30,000 people worldwide.
Mitsubishi Motors Australia was established in 1980 when the company took over Chrysler’s local manufacturing plant in Adelaide; the popular Mitsubishi Magna was produced there from 1985, before being replaced by the 380 in late 2005. Unfortunately, the 380 was unable to provide the lift in sales the company needed in order to keep manufacturing profitable, and production at the factory was ceased completely in early 2008 – all of Mitsubishi’s models today are imported directly from Mitsubishi proper in Japan.
Mitsubishi’s revitalised fortunes in recent years have seen them bring out an extensive range of 4WD and SUV models, each designed to fill a specific role in the unique Aussie market. At the small end of the range is the ASX, a compact, hatchback-sized SUV designed to be a spacious runabout for urban families. One step up from this is the recently redesigned Outlander, a mid-size SUV equally capable on the city streets or off the beaten track. The Outlander comes with either five or seven seats, and can fold the back two rows completely flat to provide a huge amount of cargo space.
Mitsubishi’s third model is the Challenger, a full-sized 4WD with proper off-road ability and turbo-diesel engines; the Challenger is in fact based off another Mitsubishi model, the Triton ute, which swaps the full body of the Challenger for a useful rear tray. Last but not least is the company’s flagship model, the Pajero. The big, seven-seat SUV combines serious off-road ability – such as multiple 4WD modes, low range and a big 3.2L diesel engine – with luxurious interior features and contemporary technology.
The depth and breadth of Mitsubishi’s range saw them do well in Canstar Blue’s Motoring Awards: in our 4WD/SUV category, the brand scored four stars for reliability, performance, after-sales service and value for money – all characteristics that you can’t pass up on in a family 4WD.