This switch is often asked about on various Pajero discussion forums and I’ve been asked about it through this website too. So let me tell you what it’s all about.
Firstly, you’re only going to have one if you have an automatic gearbox and even then, only on certain models. A/T stands for Automatic Transmission and Mode therefore means that the automatic transmission can be placed in different modes using this button.
I guess the default mode is with the button in the central position. This is called the auto mode and when in this position, nothing shows on the dash. In this position the transmission will automatically change from power to economy mode as the conditions require. If you’re driving steadily without pressing hard on the accelerator, the gearbox will change up as soon as it can. If you hit the pedal hard the gearbox will drop a gear or two and increase the revs/performance.
Push the button forward and you’ll be in power mode – “PWR” will show up on the dash. In this mode the gears will be kept as low as possible and the revs are allowed to go higher, even when you’re not hitting the accelerator hard. This should result in faster performance. Beware though that your fuel economy may drop drastically in this mode.
Finally, by knocking the switch into its backwards position you’ll light up the dash with “HOLD”. This is the hold mode. In this mode when you set off from a standing start you will be in 2nd gear and the gearbox will change up as soon as it can, keeping the revs low. In theory this should be the most economical setting. It can also help stop wheel spinning in slippery conditions and could be useful for instance when pulling a trailer out of a muddy field.
Personally I keep my Pajero in the auto mode and occasionally knock it into power mode if I’m feeling racy at the traffic lights. I always flick it back into auto once I’ve burnt off the boy-racers!