Mitsubishi Shogun review
The Mitsubishi Shogun is a large, rugged 4x4 that works perfectly off-road, but struggles a little on it
It doesn’t seem long ago that the once imperious Mitsubishi Shogun was the luxury SUV of choice, but how the mighty have fallen. A resurgent Land Rover has put paid to Mitsubishi’s appeal in the lifestyle segment, and a lack of ongoing model development has seen the Shogun fall back into its original role as a tough utility vehicle.
It’s still pretty good off-road of course, but it lacks the clever driving modes and tech of the Land Rover Discovery. On the road it's rough, uncomfortable and noisy, and newer SUV rivals run rings around it.
In fact you might as well be driving a pick-up truck. Which many former Shogun drivers now do, of course, with many of them choosing Mitsubishi’s own L200 double cab. Other rivals include the Toyota Land Cruiser.
The Mitsubishi Shogun has been around since 1983, and in that time it has won itself a reputation for impressive go-anywhere capability and bulletproof reliability – partly as a result of its superb record of wins on the gruelling Paris-Dakar rally. Currently, the Shogun is only available with one diesel engine – a 3.2-litre four-cylinder unit – and the big 4x4 is showing its age. While the cabin and styling gets updated every now and again, the driving experience barely changes.
We’re on the fourth generation Shogun now, which was introduced in 2006 – although much of the engineering underneath was carried over from an earlier version launched in 1999. With the increasing market emphasis on crossover type vehicles, some pundits have suggested the current Shogun will be the last of its line.
The car is still available in short-wheelbase three-door and long-wheelbase five-door version, and the entry-models in both ranges are sold as working versions with Commercial model names. That said, even the Commercial models have a pretty generous spec with climate and cruise control, keyless entry, Bluetooth, heated seats, electric folding mirrors and automatic lights.
A Warrior version of the SWB Shogun adds a reversing camera, privacy glass, touch screen satnav, leather interior and body dress up parts, while the range-topping Barbarian adds 20 inch wheels, DAB radio and aluminium ‘sports’ pedals. A similar range of spec levels is available in the seven-seat long-wheelbase model, but they do without the colourful Warrior and Barbarian model names.
Engines, performance and drive
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The Shogun’s ride is never very smooth and on some surfaces can feel unpleasantly unsettled. There's plenty of body roll in the bends too, making the car quite awkward to live with, especially if you want to load the rear up with family members. Off-road though, it's fantastic and can tackle some of the toughest terrain on offer. It also has a 700mm wading depth, which isn’t bad, although it’s just beaten by the Discovery.
Whichever Mitsubishi Shogun you choose, it will be powered by a 3.2-litre four-cylinder diesel engine making 187bhp. It’s an interesting unit because 3.2-litres is a very large capacity for a four-cylinder engine, but performance is far from thrilling. In the long wheelbase models 0-62mph takes 11.1 seconds, but the three-door can manage it in 9.7 seconds. The engine itself is gruff and noisy, both at idle and under acceleration, which doesn't do much for refinement. In its favour there’s loads of torque – 441Nm in fact - and it’s an excellent tow vehicle, especially as now the Shogun only comes with automatic transmission.
MPG, CO2 and running costs
With only a five-speed automatic gearbox, and especially in long wheelbase form, the Mitsubishi Shogun doesn't score very well for running costs. Fuel economy stands at a poor 34.4mpg and emissions of 216g/km are quite high. Both of those facts mean you'll need deep pockets just to keep it fuelled and taxed. A servicing plan which costs £750 will cover all the costs of the first three services of your Shogun, which isn't too bad, and at least it’s easy to budget for the expenditure.
The Shogun range has insurance ratings from group 34 to 36. The Land Rover Discovery is more expensive to insure with ratings between group 41 and 43.
The Shogun’s solid reputation for dependability, and its prowess as a work horse, mean a new one should retain a reasonable amount of its value on the second hand market. After three years/30.000 miles, used car value experts CAP suggest the seven-seater models should still be worth 47-50 per cent of new cost. The three-door short-wheelbase cars fare less well, but you should hang onto at least 44 per cent of the new cost. By contrast a new Land Rover Discovery would hold onto around 54 per cent of its value.
Interior, design and technology
The Mitsubishi Shogun has a no-nonsense approach to styling. It was designed to be a rugged off-roader, and the bluff front end and sharp edges portray that impression quite well. Compared with modern 4x4s it probably needs a bit of a styling rethink – the format looks a bit ‘old school’ in the age of the lifestyle-focused crossover SUV.
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The interior is full of chunky switches and a few high quality materials but it's a little utilitarian. The Shogun isn’t available with an array of the latest driving aids either, unlike more modern SUV rivals.
Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment
The Shogun comes with a standard six-speaker stereo system with Bluetooth and a USB socket for music streaming. There are steering wheel controls for audio too. Higher spec models come with a premium touchscreen navigation and music system with 12 speakers, and a rear view camera and traffic updates, DAB radio and twin USB ports in the rear.
Practicality, comfort and boot space
The Shogun is a big, practical car with a decent boot and lots of space for passengers, especially in 7-seater guise – although using the extra row obviously compromises boot space.
There’s a commanding SUV driving position, but the seats are not especially comfortable and there’s no reach adjustment for the steering wheel. Interior noise is higher than most modern contemporaries, with tyre, wind and engine noise all doing their bit. As it's such a big car some drivers will find close-quarters manoeuvring a bit of a strain, so the rear view camera will be invaluable.
The Shogun five-door is 4,900mm long, 1,875mm wide and 1,900mm tall. That makes it just over half a metre longer than the three-door. The Toyota Land Cruiser is 4,505mm long, while the Land Rover Discovery measures up at 4,829mm.
Leg room, head room & passenger space
There’s plenty of room for three adults in the back of the Shogun, but if you’ve opted for the three-door then access is tricky. The third row of seats in the long-wheelbase five-door is only really suitable for a couple of kids, who will probably enjoy the fact that there’s a bit of an assault course to access them.
Go for the long wheelbase Shogun, and you'll get a huge 663-litre boot behind the second row of seats. However, if you choose to have all three rows of seats up – as a seven-seater – then you'll find there's only 221 litres of space. Fold all the seats flat, and there's a very spacious 1,789-litre load area.
Reliability and Safety
The Shogun hasn't been officially crash tested by Euro NCAP, but Mitsubishi is confident it could achieve a four star rating. The standard airbag count includes driver, passenger, side and curtain airbags, and you do get electronic stability control, traction control and ISOFIX child seat mounts on the kit list. There’s none of the more advanced technology like lane-keep assist, active cruise control or automatic emergency braking that appears on premium rival models, though.
Reliability is an area where the Shogun should certainly score highly. These cars were really built to last and have gained a reputation for their bulletproof and trouble free running.
In our 2015 Driver Power survey the Shogun was ranked in 81st place overall from a total of 200 cars, scoring an 89th place for reliability. Mitsubishi itself didn’t fare so well, dropping several places from the year before to 27th out of 32 rival brands.
The Shogun comes with Mitsubishi’s standard three-year/100,000 mile warranty cover which includes accident and breakdown assistance across Europe.
The Shogun requires servicing annually or at 12,500 miles. Costs should be reasonable, especially if you opt for fixed price servicing deals that are typically available from Mitsubishi.