Which is better between a Prado 1999 and Pajero 2000?

Thursday August 22 2019


By Paul Kaganzi

Hello Paul,

I am trying to make a choice between a 1999 Toyota Prado 2.7 litre petrol and a 2000 Mitsubishi Pajero 3.5 V6 petrol. How do the two compare?

Hello James, the Toyota Prado J90 is a midsize sports utility vehicle while the Pajero V60 is a full size sports utility vehicle. The Pajero V60 is slightly bigger than the Prado J90 in terms of Length X width in millimetres (4798 x 1877 vs 4675 x 1820).This means the Pajero V60 has slightly better space attributes which give it an edge over the Prado in seating space, legroom and load space.
The J90 Toyota Prado is built on a ladder frame chassis (body on frame) while the Pajero V60 has a unibody design (monocoque frame in body). This gives the Prado J60 a slight edge over the Pajero when driving in extreme offroad conditions such as rocky countryside or wading shallow pools. The Prado will remain more composed and absorb the torsional stress of extreme offroad conditions better.
Both the Prado and Pajero have four wheel drive facilities with selectable low range. This makes them both tough as nails. The body on frame vehicles have a higher profile. This gives them a higher centre of gravity which makes them easier to roll over if you drive recklessly through corners and sharp bends. They are not necessarily unsafe to drive, you just have to drive them sensibly.
On the other hand, the Pajero V60’s integrated unibody frame in body design and lower wider profile gives it better handling and less roll while driving fast and through sharp bends and corners. No wonder modern SUVs built for high speed driving come with the unibody or monocoque design and lower wider profiles for better driveability and manouverability. The Toyota Prado’s subsequent generations 3 (J120 - 2002-2009) and 4 (J150 -2010- present) give a much better high speed driving experience than the generation 2 Prado J90 (1996-2001).
J150 Prados are significantly lower (1,845mm from 1,880mm) and wider (1,885mm from 1,820mm) which gives them improved stability during high speed driving. They also incorporate better electronic stability and traction control features to avoid handling or driveability issues during high speed driving through corners and sharp bends.
The Prado J90’s 2.7 litre petrol 3RZFE engine is easier to maintain and cheaper to run in fuel economy terms. Although it is a bit sluggish when you lockdown to overtake, overall, it drives well if you want to be careful and drive sensibly. Pajero’s 6G74 3.5 litre petrol V6 engine has thrilling overtaking and climbing power. This is complimented by its good on road credentials.
This performance comes at a higher cost on your fuel budget and a higher maintenance bill. This Pajero engine is sensitive to fuel quality and cleanliness of fuel system components such as intake valves, fuel injectors. To have trouble-free running, use cleaner fuel with more efficiency enhancing additives and replace the fuel filter at 100,000kms. Failure to look after this engine due to negligence or laxity by the owner makes it unreliable. The Pajero and its engine technology are not unreliable as such.

My BMW seatbelts don’t grip. Am I safe?
Hello Paul,

I bought a locally used BMW 3 series. Everything seems okay but the front seat belts are loose and do not seem to grip. What can I do to repair the loose seatbelts? Yunis

Hello Yunis, car seatbelts exist for your safety and are not a mere traffic regulation to satisfy traffic police. Seatbelts are meant to save lives and prevent severe injuries. Travelling without wearing a seatbelt or using nonfunctioning seatbelts makes you vulnerable to injury or death during accidents.
When a vehicle is in motion, the passengers and loads in the vehicle continue travelling in the same direction, at the same speed, even when the vehicle suddenly turns or comes to a standstill during roll over, side impact or forward collision. This will often result in severe injury or fatality (death) of the passengers in the affected vehicle.
Seatbelts are devices designed to harness and secure passengers in vehicles. They also work in four main ways to protect vehicle occupants by preventing injury during collision or sudden stop. Seatbelts also secure you to the seat to prevent secondary impact from moving objects inside the car such as panels during collision, sudden stop or roll over. They also keep passengers harnessed to their seats and protected by supplementary restraint systems such as airbags or roll over protection systems (rally cars or roofless convertibles) and head restraint support and whiplash prevention ( such as the Mercedes Neck pro).
Seatbelts prevent passengers from being tossed out of a vehicle during any of the above accident situations. They come in three main designs, the lap belts, three point sash seat belts (most common) and five point seatbelt harness for rally car drivers.
Basic seatbelt designs have a floor to frame mounted buckle where the seatbelt harness is secured. Therefore, those mounted to the seats (like our matatu PSVs) are insecure and hazardous. The seat belt harness works with a tandem pendulum retracting device which is designed to respond to sudden change of direction or movement (during sudden stop, impact or roll over) by locking to taunt the harness belt over the passenger.
Newer vehicles are designed with smart seatbelt pretensioning devices which are triggered off when they detect impending collision or sudden change of direction to tension the belt across the passenger and reduce forward movement and possible injury.
The loose seatbelts on your BMW may have damaged retracting and pretensioning systems which may not be repairable if the tensioning spring is damaged. Find a good BMW mechanic to check why the belt retracting mechanism has failed and help make the decision to replace them.


Is it okay to raise my car?
Hello Paul, is it okay to raise my car without damaging it?


Hello Emmanuel, raising your car with spacers improves ground clearance. However, it can damage your car suspension because it prevents articulation. The taunt upper suspension is permanently stretched so it wears out prematurely. Raising the car beyond the manufacturer’s design limit affects the centre of gravity and response to changing direction and road terrain.
This affects ride handling quality because it makes your car unstable when driving through corners or on uneven road patches. This is a potential cause of rollover accidents or loss of control, while driving fast.