By Andrew St.Pierre White
Posted: 26 Jun 2012 10:58 AM PDT
For decades, the three titans of the mid-range, luxury 4x4 off-road wagon market have beed the Land Rover Discovery, Mitsubishi Pajero and Toyota Prado. There are others in the segment, namely the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Hyundai Terracan, but they have not been fierce contenders, mainly because they aren’t very good. Some may suggest that vehicles like the Audi Q7 and BMW X5 should also mentioned, but they aren’t off roaders. They are just SUVs with four-wheel drive. There is a huge difference.
At first the Prado lead on-road, while the Discovery lead off-road. Then when the Discovery-2 was launched, it plummeted to the worst off-road, and it stayed worst on it. It’s fall from grace was due solely to some stupid person in the development team deciding to remove the centre diff lock and to force the vehicle to rely solely on its mostly pathetic traction-control for all its grip. The result was a vehicle that had pitifully poor traction off road. At this stage the Prado lead both off road and on it, the Pajero remaining steadfastly the middle runner.
Enter Discovery-3. When it arrived, so did its brand new traction control, which happily, worked. And it worked superbly. And with it, ride height control. It shot straight back to the leader in the off-road stakes, and amazingly, easily matched the Prado on-road. Mitsubishi, it seemed, had lost interest in its Pajero and did almost nothing. It fell to worst off road and worst on it - where it remains today. But the big question now is, how does the Prado stack up against the Discovery-4. It too has traction control, and the VX model has a lockable rear differential. Both vehicles have clever electronics and both are brilliant long-distance cruisers. Is there a winner? Yes I think there is, but it depends what you are looking for.
Read more: The fight of the three 4x4 titans - Disco, Prado, Pajero