The Mitsubishi Pajero has had a long and illustrious tenure in the 4×4 club spanning 37 years in which there have been only four major iterations. This is not only a demonstration of its timeless appeal but also its ability to thrive in the ever changing automotive landscape. In Kenya, it reigned supreme in the 80s and 90s before it was dethroned by the Toyota Prado. Other competitors include the Land Rover Discovery, the Ford Everest and the Nissan Pathfinder.
The 4x4 landscape is changing fast and the chasm that once existed between on-road and off-road vehicles is getting narrower. The term SUV is ambiguous and does not in itself denote off-road capability but rather a body type classification. Due to this confusion, capable off-roaders such as the Jeep Grand Cherokee are grouped together in the SUV labyrinth that carries both true 4x4s and poseurs alike. The Grand Cherokee competes with the VW Touareg, Porsche Cayenne, Audi Q7, BMW X5, Range Rover Sport and Mercedes ML/GLE.
The Mercedes M-Class is an imposing SUV that stands out in a crowded playing field that features heavyweights such as the VW Touareg, BMW X5, Audi Q7 and Porsche Cayenne. It leads in aspects such as comfort, safety and performance but lags in other aspects such off-road capability and 7-seater capacity.
The Toyota Land Cruiser is a multi-generational SUV that has been in production for decades and has had the largest impact on the popularity of 4x4s as we know them today. In Kenya, the Land Cruiser is wildly popular and is seen as the penultimate SUV that is favored more for prestige than its mud-plugging capabilities. Its closest competitor is the Nissan Patrol that's respectable in its own right and followed closely by the Land Rover Discovery.
The Toyota Hilux is a time tested workhorse that has been the mainstay of light commercial transport in Kenya for many years. It’s longevity is unquestionable and it’s commonplace to find older versions still kicking on the roads even after years of abuse and thousands of miles. The newer versions have been criticized for not being as hardy as their predecessors and their reliability has been put to question. In this review, we will tell you whether this is true and why the storied Hilux has been dethroned by the Isuzu D-Max in the Kenyan market. Other competitors include the Ford Ranger, Nissan Hardbody, Nissan Navara, Mazda BT-50, Mitsubishi L200 and VW Amarok.
Since its launch in 2005, the Toyota Fortuner has established itself as a legitimate SUV that performs almost at the same level as the Toyota Prado but it was historically hindered by rear leaf springs that gave it a bumpy truck-like ride. But now the second generation comes with coil springs all round and a new 2.8-Litre turbo diesel engine that transforms the Fortuner into a silky smooth SUV. This leads us to think it could be a better value for money than the Prado considering its lower price point. It competes with the Toyota Prado, Mitsubishi Pajero, Nissan Pathfinder and Ford Everest.
The Range Rover is a premium SUV that inhabits the pinnacle of luxury and a preeminent symbol of affluence around the world. A distinction it has held for the last 50 years and doesn’t look to relinquish any time soon. In Kenya, it's favoured by the old money and the wealthy patriarchy, more so for its legendary safety than its luxury. The political class largely avoid it preferring the Toyota Land Cruiser and its lesser brother, the Toyota Prado.
The BMW X3 finds itself in the unenviable position of constantly being overshadowed by its bigger brother the X5 and has never really carved its own niche in the Kenyan market. Most people who buy the X3 would prefer the X5 if all factors were held constant. The deal breaker is usually the price but regardless, the X3 is a solid SUV that boasts of top notch safety ratings, luxurious interior and excellent performance. It competes with the Audi Q5, VW Tiguan, Volvo XC60, Mercedes GLK, Subaru Forester, Mazda CX5 and Discovery Sport.