Even in the SUV-mad noughties and crossover-mad present day, one type of jacked-up passenger vehicle has been conspicuously absent: the two/three-door SUV. As SUVs have transitioned from rural workhorses to family conveyances, SUVs with two fewer doors have vanished. Mostly.
Once the mainstream, the two-door SUV – or three-door, if you aren’t American and thus count the rear portal – is almost extinct in North America with only the Jeep Wrangler available. If you widen your search to include crossovers, there’s also only one: the Range Rover Evoque.
If you want a full-size, two-door SUV in North America, you’re out of luck. Ford axed their Bronco in 1996 and GM killed the two-door Chevy Tahoe and GMC Yukon after 1998. GM did consider releasing a two-door version of the GMT-800 Tahoe/Yukon but decided against it in light of declining sales.
There are buyers who want these, however. Perhaps a company needs a fleet vehicle that can traverse rough terrain but will be carrying only one employee. Maybe there’s a retired couple towing a caravan or horse float or boat. There could also be an off-roading enthusiast who wants the greater capabilities afforded by a shorter SUV. For those buyers, but only in a few markets like the UK, Mitsubishi continues to offer a two-door Pajero (aka Montero and Shogun) while Toyota offers a two-door version of the Land Cruiser Prado, related to the Lexus GX460.
Australia was one of those markets for a while. With our thousands of square miles of rugged terrain, there’s long been a market for SUVs (or four-wheel-drives, as we more commonly call them) and outback Australia is infested with them, mostly Toyota Land Cruisers. But if we ever had much of an appetite for two-door SUVs, it had largely evaporated by the 21st century. The Land Cruiser Prado’s shorty variant was axed after 2013, following the Pajero’s summary dismissal in 2009.
The shorty Prado was a curious introduction, considering past generations had not been offered in Australia with fewer than four doors. This example I photographed in a parking garage is the first one I’ve seen in a long time; the Prado has been a regular fixture in Australia’s Top 20, but clearly the two-door has been a bit player.
Toyota will still sell you a 70-Series Land Cruiser Troop Carrier that has two doors and can seat up to 11 people. Alas, I live in inner-city Brisbane and not Kalgoorlie or Emerald, so these are not a part of my surrounding scenery. This press photo will have to do. These are old-fashioned, rugged and iconic trucks and sell based on their reputation more so than the number of doors.
While the truncated Pajero looks chunky and handsome, the Prado looks like a reflection in a funhouse mirror. And it indeed has a stubby body, with a wheelbase of just 96.65 inches. That short span and the live axle rear suspension don’t help on-road manners and although the two-door has the edge off the road, the four-door is no shrinking violet in this respect.
Mitsubishi had long made a two-door version of the Pajero but also had never offered it in Australia until 2006. Unlike the Prado, which was available solely with a 170 hp/302 ft-lb 3.0 turbo diesel four mated to a five-speed automatic, the Pajero offered two engines. One was a 3.2 turbo diesel four with 167 hp and 264 ft-lbs, while the other was a 3.8 V6 petrol unit with 246 hp and 242 ft-lbs. Both came only with a five-speed automatic in Australia.
The Mitsubishi was 20 inches shorter than its four-door companion but had a longer wheelbase than the Prado, measuring 100.2 inches. Unlike the Prado, the Pajero utilized a unibody construction with independent front and rear suspensions and therefore had better on-road manners while still successfully tackling rough terrain. Unfortunately, its oiler was gruffer and less powerful than the Prado’s.
If you’re an empty-nester in Australia who tows or own a company in Canada that repairs rural telephone lines, you won’t be able to buy a brand new, two-door Prado or Pajero. But if you live in Japan, or the UK, or one of several other overseas markets, you’ll be able to buy one. The question is: for how much longer?
Curbside Capsule: 1999-2005 Mitsubishi Pajero iO – Little Moon Rover
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The Pajero looked awesome on the Dakar. Not so much here.
I’m replying to my own comment because some how I hosed my own subscrption request.
That Prado really does look cartoonish. Johannes’ 2 door 90-series Prado is a much better looking 2 door, IMO.
I always thought the SWB Nissan Patrol was the best looking of the “forbidden fruit” (in the US at least) 2 door SUVs.
This reminds me of our trip to Iceland a few years ago. We met a retired French couple who were touring around Europe in their shorty Hyundai Galloper (Korean-built version of the Pajero/Montero/Shogun/Raider). They had outfitted it for camping; the back was full of cabinets, drawers, and a micro-kitchen. Here they are, fording a small river:
My sister and BIL just spent a couple of years touring Aussie towing a caravan with a diesel Pajero the LWB version the shortie would be useless for towing like all SWB 4WDs are, Other than problems with the aftermarket Reese hitch they had no issues with the vehicle.
The very rare final 2-door Isuzu Trooper is rare but exists in the US. I always liked it, too. Shorty works better off road, but 4-doors is better for almost everything else and usually gets the money. The short Wrangler will probably die within 10 years. Watch.
I would really love to find one of those! I’ve seen several Vehicrosses, but never a 2-door second-generation Trooper.
Very rare indeed; can’t recall the last time I saw one.
As 2-door SUVs go, there’s also the Land Cruiser FJ. Not anymore, of course, but they sold a fair number of ’em.
You guys did get the pajero two doors in USA back in 80 s as DODGE.i saw it in an american movie afew years ago.
Yes, the Dodge Raider.
I see nothing here that I would trade the 4Runner for. However, you could talk me into that turbo diesel.
The Pajero looks better than the current Prado (Land Cruiser 150-series), agreed. The Prado’s design is just too much, as if it wears a Koenig body kit from the eighties.
Yet Toyota owns this segment of the market -i.e. the trailer towing SUVs- here now. The Nissan Patrol has been withdrawn from the market, the 1997 Y61 generation was the last one we got. And the Mitsubishi brand has just sunk too far, consequently the Pajero only plays a minor role.
Here’s one, converted into a van for a commercial vehicle registration, with a 6.5 ton (14,330 lbs) low bed drawbar trailer (Photo courtesy of Veldhuizen Wagenbouw).
I’d be afraid to tow anything that heavy with such a short wheelbase, tall vehicle. The tail wagging the dog…
And with two points of articulation an emergency stop would be interesting to say the least!
The country is littered with combinations like the one above. A SWB heavy-duty panel van will also do the job just fine. Fully dressed up and equipped, a rig like this will have air brakes + ABS all around (SUV~panel van + trailer).
You know, you don’t need some LWB Giga-Pickup with a completely over the top -as in displacement- V8 diesel to tow anything heavier than say 3.5 ton.
Rest assured, the Pajero’s 3.2 liter 4-cylinder turbodiesel will neither explode, nor implode while towing 6.5 ton.
Oh well, at least the notorious “tongue weight” isn’t an issue here, otherwise we would have had that discussion again.
I like that straightforward no-nonsense Series 70 Toyota Land Cruiser, steel wheels and all. You say Toyota will still sell a Series 70? Wish it was offered in the U.S. market.
Well, you can import an old one: http://www.landcruisersdirect.com
The Pajero looks “right” to these American eyes, not just because of better proportions but also because of the precedent set by the first-gen 2 door Montero (or was that only sold in the US as a Raider?). But the Prado looked like a joke to me, if not a Photoshop. We haven’t seen 2 door Cruisers here since the demise of the FJ40 in 1984. The fairly short-lived FJ Cruiser was in fact a 3 door. I do occasionally see a 2 door second-gen 4Runner on the streets, but they were never common.
I realize it’s nowhere near full size, but the third-generation Suzuki Jimny (aka Samurai) is still two-door only and is relatively common overseas. I see them semi-regularly in Taiwan, Japan, etc. According to Wikipedia they’re produced in Colombia for Latin America as well as in Spain for Europe. I find them very attractive and they seem just large enough to be practical for two people.
I was about to reply that you can’t get a three door Prado or Shogun in the U.K. but sure enough there is a three door Shogun on the price lists. I haven’t ever seen one, but that said the only recent five door ones you see are driven by the Traffic Wombles (the not-quite police who sort out accidents and breakdowns on the motorways).
I had thought that Mitsubishi sold the swb Pajero continuously from 1983 until 2009, but some research shows a gap from 2000-2005. On the other hand the Prado only offered the swb from the end of 2009 until 2013. I can only imagine how few they sold.
I see a lot more Land Rover Defender 90’s than either of these! And being a 1940’s design originally they have some pretty severe limitations. Strangely they were only sold in recent times from 2003-05 and then 2010-current, or at least until the stocks run out as they are now out of production.