Pajero vs Prado: Know the safety features of your vehicle

Friday April 3 2020

 

By JM Baraza

There is this irritating tendency to blame Prados for the spate of recent corner-related accidents on the road. The script is the same: A person gets themselves behind the wheel of a Prado (invariably a diesel with a high pressure turbo), they immediately revel in the burst of torque that kicks in every time the massive blower spools up, and they quickly discover that they can dispatch lesser cars with ease... in a straight line.
They also promptly forget that physics is a cruel master that cannot be bent. Here comes a corner.

They will enter the corner way faster than they are supposed to and their world will go topsy-turvy; literally upside down. Sometimes they die. Sometimes they survive long enough to cast aspersions on the lineage of the inventor of off-road vehicles in general and the Land Cruiser Prado in particular.
They will then go on vitriolic, ill-informed, vengeful and vocal campaigns to get the vehicle proscribed globally, overlooking the simple fact that no one has ever bought a Prado at gunpoint.
Death and taxes are unavoidable, but Prados can be steered clear of as a matter of personal choice and on the strength of unconfirmed rumours, especially if you did not do well in both science class and at the driving school but somehow have access to a licence and a Prado.

Chassis
Stop blaming the small Land Cruiser. This is why it is wobbly; it has what we call a body-on-frame chassis whereby that overly familiar, highly convoluted bodywork is mounted as a separate piece on the upper side of a prone metallic ladder, same ladder onto which the axles are bolted on the lower side.
This is not good for handling, mostly because it is the same technology mankind was using back when the earth was flat; but it is very robust construction that can withstand a lot of attrition and that is why it is used on the world’s toughest off-road vehicle.
Let’s be clear: the Toyota Land Cruiser is designed to tackle lunar landscapes, not chase Subaru on twisty roads.

Suspension
This raison d’être explains the other reason why the Prado is wobbly: it has a very tall and soft suspension. This is to optimise wheel articulation, which in a nutshell is what allows SUVs to tiptoe around deep ruts and steep mounds, sometimes simultaneously, without beaching themselves.
Again, this setup is not good for on-road handling. This is what makes driving a Prado such a roller-coaster experience, and the vehicle is best approached with discretionary restraint, not overzealous fervour.

Go easy on the throttle.
So now, the Pajero. Unlike the Prado, it uses what we call a monocoque chassis, which in simplistic terms is where the body and the frame are one and the same.
There isn’t a separate frame onto which to bolt the body, the axles are attached directly to the body via sub frames (we will discuss these later) making for a very pleasant and enjoyable ride. Pajeros are comfortable to ride in and very nice to drive, even on tarmac, which is high praise for an SUV of its calibre.

It is to Mitsubishi’s credit that the Pajero is also highly capable when the going gets industrial, despite its unibody construction setup. It, therefore, follows that a restless Ugandan in a state of permanent haste is less likely to get an accident in a Pajero than in a Prado, because the Pajero is more forgiving of high speed shenanigans.
The Pajero rides lower than the Prado. It will get to a point where the Toyota will Rush (pun intended) where the Mitsu fears to tread) and therefore has a lot less body roll and takes more effort to tip over.

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Caution
Are you restless, of average motoring skill and always in a hurry? Pajero.
Do you want a car that could outlast your grandchildren and keep running long past Armageddon? Prado.
Are you restless, of average motoring skills and always in a hurry? Find out which car suits you.

editorial@ug.nationmedia.com

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