This is the type of information many people want to know and we’ve gone the distance in answering that very question. It literally is the battle royale as we compare the Toyota Fortuner 2.4 GD-6 RB AT, the Isuzu mu-X 3.0 4×2 AT6 and the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport 2.4 D4.
While all three are large, automatic SUVs with comfortable seating for seven people, which one tips the scale in terms of the all-important safety features? To ensure a fair fight, we’ve chosen the slightly more affordable 4×2 variants since the whole idea is to compare the list of standard active and passive safety features.
Toyota Fortuner 2.4 GD-6 RB AT (R503 000)
It’s no surprise that the much-loved and respected Toyota Fortuner is on this list as the brand has been a household name for many South African families. This SUV offers incredibly good value for money and is known to be exceptionally reliable with an engine made to withstand all types of punishment.
On the inside, the cabin has a comfort level fit for royalty with an array of features including hooks for coats or shopping and soft leather edges for your knees and elbows. This particular Toyota Fortuner may be the cheapest SUV on our list but don’t let the price fool you; it packs a punch in terms of safety.
As with most modern cars, the Fortuner has ABS (anti-lock brakes), EBD (electronic brake-force distribution) with BA (brake assist) complimented by stability and traction control. In addition, the Toyota Fortuner also gets hill-assist control or hill-start assist that stops you from rolling backwards when pulling away at an incline. It has seven airbags including one to protect the driver’s knees which is a priceless safety feature. But wait, there’s more and is trailer sway control with an impressive braked towing capacity of 2500 kg.
The Fortuner comes with a service plan of 9 years / 90 000 km which is another very attractive addition. Let’s not forget that when it’s time to sell, a Toyota Fortuner is always high in demand.
Isuzu mu-X 30 4×2 AT6 (R568 000)
The all-new Isuzu mu-X 30 is a magnificent specimen of a car; it’s rugged, robust, refined and incredibly comfortable while driving it is as easy a small car. Unlike some other SUVs feeling rather clumsy on the road, the new Isuzu mu-X 30 is much more manoeuvrable and seems to glide along the road surface. Potholes and speed bumps are no concern for the Isuzu as the soft suspension tackles anything the road has to offer. It also corners very well for such a big car with very little lean.
It’s time to move on to the all-important safety features. Much like the Toyota, it has ABS, EBD, BA, stability and traction control along with Hill-Start Assist. The added bonus on the Isuzu though is a little thing called, hill-descent control. Performing a similar function to hill-start, this feature assists drivers when going down a sharp decline. While you may not take your 4×2 down steep hills all that often, it is good to have and the Isuzu mu-X 30 is the only car on this list featuring hill-descent control.
Mitsubishi Pajero Sport 2.4 D4 (R569 995)
All three super SUVs listed here are automatics but the Pajero Sport is the only one with 8-speed transmission. Not that fuel economy is the first thing SUV owners think about but the brilliant transmission coupled with a 2.4-litre engine makes the Mitsubishi Sport the most economical nonetheless. Fuel consumption is 7.3 l/100 km on a combined cycle but it’s really closer to 9.
In terms of safety, the Pajero Sport is no slouch either and has similar features to the Fortuner. Starting with ABS, EBD, BA, stability and traction control, Hill-Start Assist, the Mitsubishi also has a rearview camera with PDC (park distance control) and seven airbags. Additional features include rain-sensing windscreen wipers and dusk-sensing headlamps. The big talking point of the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport is the fact that it has a 5-star ANCAP safety rating which makes it safe as houses.
So Who Gets The Winning Spoils?
As you can tell, all three SUVs are incredible pieces of automotive engineering and this is indeed a tough call to make. While all three have more or less the same safety specifications, the one that offers the most for its price is the Toyota Fortuner.
It’s the only SUV on this list fitted with trailer sway control and its tow bar is a standard feature where it’s optional on the Isuzu and Mitsubishi. Other bonus points include the higher ground clearance of 279 mm compared to the Pajero’s 215 mm and the Isuzu mu-X’s 230 mm. The biggest drawback of the Fortuner is not having rear park distance control. Since it’s such a large vehicle, surely the manufacturers should have at least considered it.
All that said, is it enough to declare the Fortuner the overall winner? Purely based on safety, we’d have to say no and call it a draw between the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport and the Isuzu mu-X. However, it all comes down to personal preference and the only way to truly tell which you prefer is to take them for a test drive.
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* Prices are accurate as of April 2019