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The Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution Was the SUV Version of the Lancer Evolution

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author photo by Doug DeMuro October 2016

If you're a car enthusiast, you've undoubtedly heard about the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution. And if you haven't heard about the Lancer Evolution, you've certainly heard a Lancer Evolution, interrupting your quiet meal at an outdoor cafe with an aftermarket exhaust that sounds like an impact driver. But did you know Mitsubishi made an Evolution SUV?

It's true: From 1997 to 1999, Mitsubishi took its 2-door Montero SUV (called the Pajero in Japan) and made an Evolution version of it, complete with a 3.5-liter V6 engine that made a purported 276 horsepower -- a made-up number designed to abide by a Japanese gentlemen's agreement that restricted stated horsepower for safety purposes. As a result, it's hard to difficult to know much horsepower the Pajero Evolution really had.

Less difficult, however, is leering at its ridiculous styling. The Pajero Evolution was literally a 2-door Montero with enormous flared fenders, unique wheels and one of the strangest wings of all time -- one that didn't actually go across the back end but instead rose up in two columns and then pointed towards the rear of the vehicle like something you'd see on the Batmobile. There was also a beefier front bumper with a surprisingly high number of fog lights (four) and a massive skid plate.

So why'd they make it? To go racing. Mitsubishi wanted to enter a high-performance version of the 2-door Pajero in the famously challenging Dakar Rally, which meant they had to build a certain number for the road. The result is around 2,500 examples of the production Pajero Evolution, likely all sold into Japan.

Production of the Pajero Evolution ended after just 2 years with no further versions of it -- meaning there was no Pajero Evolution I, II, III, etc., etc., like there was with the Lancer. But let's be honest: One high-performance Pajero is cool enough. And the next time you overhear someone bragging about his Evo, be sure to ask, "Which one? The Lancer? Or the Pajero?"

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
The Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution Was the SUV Version of the Lancer Evolution - Autotrader