Land Rover Freelander 2,2 SD4 HSE AT
While we wanted the S model at under R500 000, Land Rover could supply only an HSE-spec vehicle that took the price way over that level. This one has sat-nav and a variety of additional trim for the extra outlay. The Aisin autobox has a sport setting that is handy for towing. Turbo lag, however, was very evident in getting off the line, but power is otherwise not a problem. The soft suspension means wallowing when towing and the Landie is not happy with bumps. Traction on the skidpan was not great, either.
Pros: decent power and gearbox
Con: battles with the big caravan
Mitsubishi Pajero Sport 2,5 Di-D GLS AT
One of the heavies here, the Pajero has more power than before courtesy of the new 2,5-litre turbodiesel engine. The suspension is spot-on, with good bump absorption and a firm, but not harsh, ride quality. The steering is quite heavy but suits the package. The big negative is the slushy autobox that has way too much slip. Large paddle shifters are very sporty but this is not enough to make up for the poor acceleration and overtaking proficiency. The manual version is a much better all-round bet.
Pro: strong all-round package
Con: poor gearbox
Nissan Pathfinder 2,5 dCi SE AT
This more affordable version of the Pathfinder loses the seven-seat configuration while retaining the low-range off-road ability. Power is fine at 140 kW, while torque output is the third highest after the Trailblazer and the Wrangler at 450 N.m. Turbo lag was less of an issue, but engine-fan noise was high. The firm suspension results in some jittering in the chassis, although the ride is nevertheless quite refined. The automatic transmission is much better than the aforementioned rivals’ units.
Pros: great engine and gearbox
Con: high fan noise
The test videos:
Part 1: Read more about TowCAR of the Year here (click).
Part 2: We test the Chevrolet Trailblazer, Ford Kuga and Honda CR-V here (click).
Part 3: Videos and information of the Hyundai Santa Fe, Jeep Wrangler and Kia Sorento can be read here (click).
Part 4: The Land Rover Freelander, Mitsubishi Pajero and Nissan Pathfinder are tested here (click).
Part 5: Finally you can watch videos and read more about the Subaru Outback, Toyota Fortuner and Volkswagen Tiguan here (click).