It may not look much different, but BMW’s slick 5 Series has been upgraded for 2013
Mitsubishi Shogun 3.2 DiD Elegance LWB review (2010 onwards)
Model: Mitsubishi Shogun 3.2 DiD Elegance LWB
Bodystyle: Five-door 4x4
Engine: 3.2 four-cylinder, diesel
Transmission: Five-speed auto, 4x4, low-range gearbox
Gallery: Mitsubishi Shogun
Compare the Shogun with rivals using our Car Guide
Read another Mitsubishi review on MSN Cars
What is it?
In an age of crossovers and other watered-down 4x4s the Mitsubishi Shogun stands out as the real deal. A power hike from 168hp to 197hp and other revisions just polish out a few (though not all) the rough edges.
Fair enough, the Shogun is for those who put function before fashion. Which suits its many fans just fine. Shoguns are bought by people who need a tough, dependable tool for hauling horseboxes as much as mixing it on the school run.
Where does it fit?
A quick look at the spec tells you all you need to know about the Shogun's positioning. Under the bonnet there's a 3.2-litre four-cylinder diesel - agricultural compared with the V6s you'll find in many mainstream rivals but tough, powerful and dependable.
It's been tweaked and paired with a new five-speed autobox in all but entry-level Equippe versions for much improved emissions and fuel economy but it's a basic powertrain compared with rivals such as the Discovery 4.
At just shy of £35,000 for our long-wheelbase Elegance spec test car the Shogun is bang on the money compared with the Land Rover Discovery, Toyota Land Cruiser and Jeep Cherokee. The Nissan Pathfinder is cheaper but feels it.
The Shogun is very well specced too, all getting climate control, heated seats and keyless entry, with Elegance adding a fancy Rockford Fosgate 30GB hard drive-based touchscreen music and nav system, panoramic sunroof and more besides.
Is it for you?
The Volkswagen Touareg, Porsche Cayenne and BMW X5 set will probably snigger at the Shogun's rather old-fashioned styling and lairy bodykit, shown off in its full, er, glory in the white paint of our test car.
Best choose a more subtle shade like silver then. It's fair to say Shogun buyers are more interested in substance than style though, and news that the extra power extends the towing capacity by 200kg to 3,500kg is likely to be of more interest.
The ride height has been dropped slightly to help improve the aerodynamics but what the Shogun lacks in fancy pants variable ride height suspension it more than makes up for in good, old-fashioned toughness.
So it'll do the business off-road. And long-wheelbase versions include self-explanatory Fold2Hide additional seats to enable full seven-seater capacity for the essential school run duties. Simply put, the Shogun is the car for you if you're after a real workhorse.
What does it do well?
Well, the Shogun nails all the practical stuff you could ever wish it to. And owners swear by its reliability and toughness too - worth bearing in mind given the Discovery's recent slating in a Which? Cars reliability survey.
And the traditional SUV stance and square-cut lines mean traditional 4x4 virtues like a commanding driving position and good visibility offset the fact it's one of the biggest cars in its class. The toy count is good too.
What doesn't it do well?
From the moment you turn the key and feel the big four-cylinder engine send a shudder through the Shogun's frame you just know the driving style is going to be somewhat unsophisticated and so it proves.
There's plenty of power but the engine is gruff, the steering slow and heavy and the overall weight is telling. If you're looking for a more refined and dynamic car-like experience buy a Touareg or something along those lines.
What's it like to live with?
Assuming you don't try and rush it the Shogun is fine, if burly, to drive. Just as well there's a reversing camera on Elegance models too because rearward visibility with the boot-mounted spare is awful.
It also makes the rear door very heavy - just try opening it when parked on a slope if you're in any doubt! Interior trim is also very plasticky in places and way behind mainstream premium rivals, although it's likely to be hardwearing enough.
However, five-up it's a comfortable and relaxing cruiser, the weight smothering the worst of the bumps and the ride acceptable if lacking the sophistication of air-sprung rivals like the Discovery or Touareg.
The third row seats are a little more basic and all-but destroy the boot space but for school runs with the kids they are a useful bonus. Most of all though you just know you can rely on the Shogun, whatever the terrain or weather throws at you.
How green is it?
Rather surprisingly, given the defiantly old-school approach, the Shogun's emissions and fuel economy aren't half bad, especially with this newly updated model. Indeed, CO2 is down by a fifth on auto versions, from 280g/km to 224g/km.
Fuel consumption has improved thanks to engine revisions including low friction oil and an 'intelligent' alternator, official figures rising from 26.7mpg on the outgoing car to 33.2mpg on the new one. Keep it in two-wheel drive for maximum economy too - it's 3% more efficient in this mode!
Would we buy it?
In this age of swanky, in-your-face 'premium' SUVs there's something refreshingly honest about the Shogun - it's not trying to be anything it's not and does what it does exceptionally well.
It's not going to be for everyone and some of those interior fixtures and fittings really are cheap. Which is odd, given how over-engineered it is mechanically. Increased power and those much improved CO2 figures are most welcome too.
Read another Mitsubishi review on MSN Cars.
related stories on msn
Latest Cars videos
On the road with the landmark Lambos for special golden anniversary drive.
Date 13/05/13, Duration 4:26, Views 9298