Should I buy a Mitsubishi Pajero Sport to tow my caravan?

Mitsubishi Pajero Sport

Mitsubishi Pajero Sport

Hi John,

I read your review of the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport >> It was very informative. I have contacted you previously about towing my caravan which I currently do with an FG Falcon. The van is single axle and about two tonnes fully loaded. (The Falcon is rated to tow 2.3 tonnes.) I get about 15 to 17 litres/100km. On the last 2000km trip I achieved around 15.

I watch the onboard average reading over the journeys to make these assumptions. Of course, a more accurate assessment is to make the calculation with litres used over the actual kilometres travelled - which you will understand.

The way one drives of course also affects the outcome – I try to ignore the truck cowboys etc, and average 90km/h to 100km/h on the flat, which possibly results in 75km/h to 80km/h average for the journey. People who tow with the big SUV's tell me this is a good rate and most say with diesel they get 16L/100km to 18L/100km. So where is the incentive to go SUV and diesel?

I have never towed with an SUV, but assume that I would get about the same economy using a diesel – and, say, a Pajero Sport. The van is set up correctly parallel with the car. But I do notice a visibly lower clearance on the car rear tyre to wheel arch than the front. This means I could be compromising my steering – less load to the front. I am told that fitting standard height heavy duty springs will improve this a lot. But using the Pajero Sport would fix this anyway, without modification – as it tows 3.1 tonnes with a more than adequate ball rating.

I do not want to go off-road, bashing through creeks and up the North Face, but I thought that an SUV would give me a safer more comfortable towing option. It would certainly improve the ground clearance which bugs me on the Falcon when towing over speed bumps. The van clearance is excellent – it was a purchase priority. I don't think fuel economy enters the equation, at least when towing. I use the car sparingly when not travelling, so a particulate filter could be an issue with a diesel.

Do I need to spend the money? Will it be comfortable enough around town and when towing?

You are probably thinking... 'just make your mind up!' Thanks for reading this and I look forward to your reply.

On another matter, have you heard what the latest is with the Focus – Ford arseholes – class action (possible conclusion timing, Ford execs leaping out of open windows, deal making etc)


Hello Malcolm,

OK, so two tonnes is a lot of weight. (It’s heavier than the Falcon.) My default analysis of towing fuel consumption is: If you have enough money to buy a Pajero Sport, fuel consumption while towing is irrelevant. Riff a bit of air guitar instead every morning because you are more mobile than a Roman Emperor or Egyptian Pharoah…

At 100km/h, aerodynamic drag is about half of all resistance against which the engine must work (vehicle only). Add a caravan and it’s probably about the same, because all resistances (rolling resistance and gravity-induced resistance) probably increase proportionally.

Dropping from 100km/h to 90km/h is a 10% reduction in speed is between a 20-30% reduction in aerodynamic drag (aerodynamics in the beer garden: drag varies between the square and the cube of speed.) Therefore that’s a 10-15% reduction in overall resistance, and a consequential similar reduction in fuel consumption.

Diesel is 30% more thermodynamically efficient than petrol - whether you’re towing or not. So: you still get the fuel efficiency benefit.

Steering is compromised with a heavy load on the back. Heavier springs only change the geometry (lift up the sag). They don’t change the loads imposed on the car by the trailer. So if anyone told you heavier duty springs is a fix, they never studied physics or engineering. Heavier rate springs can only lift the rear end a bit. And unless they are variable rate the car will probably ride quite badly when unladen, and have a greater tendency to loss of control in oversteer (great…)

The main reasons a Pajero Sport would be a superior tow platform are:

  1. It’s 20-25% heavier and therefore 20-25% less impacted by inertial influences from the trailer
  2. It makes more low-rpm power than the Falcon
  3. It’s designed with 35% more tow capacity. So the Falcon is operating at 87% capacity whereas the PS will be at 65% capacity with the trailer behind. Read more on Pajero Sport >>

Particle filters need a regular run on the highway. Once fortnight for 40-60 minutes is ideal. Take the missus somewhere with a view, for coffee: 30 minutes there, 30 minutes back. Once a fortnight. Easy. Problem solved. 

Latest on the Focus: The judge dismissed Bannister Law’s application for an interlocutory injunction yesterday, so that’s less than ideal. Long way to go yet, however. More on the Ford Focus transmission problems >>

John Cadogan