2013 MITSUBISHI OUTLANDER REVIEW
Vehicle Style: Medium SUV
Engine/transmission: 2.4 litre MIVEC petrol/CVT six-speed automatic
Fuel Economy claimed: 7.5 l/100km | tested: 11.4 l/100km
Mitsubishi’s new Outlander may seem an outside choice compared with more glamorous-looking - and larger - options from Hyundai, Kia and Holden.
In the street, the Outlander presents as a smaller package than its logical rivals, most of whom fall into the large SUV segment.
But while it perhaps looks more like a jacked-up wagon than a purpose-built SUV, it manages to hide a lot of space within its compact sheetmetal.
Enough space in fact to harbour seating for seven. And for size and price, only the FWD Captiva 7 (from the large SUV segment) can match it.
The old Outlander wasn’t bad but it had clearly suffered from cost-cutting: it was a bit noisy on road and the interior was a tad naff.
So, can the fresh new Outlander build on the old one’s strengths while eradicating its weaknesses?
Quality: Mitsubishi has upped its game with the new Outlander, with a much more pleasant interior than the old model.
This Japan-built Mitsubishi is very well put together, with nary a squeak or rough edge to be found.
The interior is by no means plush, but the plastics are nice enough to the touch and compare well with others in the class, even if the dash design is vaguely truck-like.
A highlight of the cabin is the pair of alloy shifter paddles mounted to the steering column - they wouldn’t look out of place on an Italian exotic and shame much more expensive European offerings. They feel right, too.
Comfort: The first two rows of cloth-covered seats are comfortable, if a little hard and unsupportive, but the final row is definitely for smaller, tolerant people.
The middle row’s backrest can be adjusted for rake and is 60-40 split. Rear legroom is quite impressive, almost limousine-like, even with the front seats set back for a six-footer at the wheel.
The middle row can also slide fore and aft to improve things for the third row.
The adjustment however for the driver’s seat is limited and there are big gaps on the rake adjustment, meaning you may have to shuffle things around a bit to get comfortable.
Equipment: The ES is fitted with cruise control, dual-zone climate control, reversing camera and parking sensors, Bluetooth, leather steering wheel and gear knob, trip computer and voice recognition.
The 4.3-inch screen is bright and clear, but the buttons around the screen are a little small for normal-sized fingers and while the touch screen itself is responsive, once again, some of the screen elements are a little fiddly.
Everything is easy to set up however, making connecting smartphones a breeze. There’s also a USB adapter for charging and connectivity.
Storage: There’s plenty of storage around the cabin, with a decent-sized, deep console bin, big door pockets up front, good-sized glove box and a big bin beneath the dash.
Rear seat passengers get bottle holders in the doors and the third row gets a pair of cupholders on one side.
With the third row stowed, the boot is a 477 litre proposition (smaller than the old, unfortunately), more than tripling to 1608 litres with the middle row folded.
A decent-sized cabinet will easily slide into the wide, flat load area, although the floor is high to accommodate the seating.
ON THE ROAD
Driveability: The 2.4 litre 124kW/220Nm MIVEC struggles to deal with the 1495kg kerb weight of the Outlander, which is borne out by a very solid ‘miss’ of the claimed consumption figures.
The engine has to be revved to find power (6000rpm) and torque (4200rpm), making the Outlander’s 1600kg towing capacity a bit academic - we’d doubt there is enough torque to make towing an effortless or relaxed experience.
If you’ve got towing in mind, give it a good run first with something hitched behind (and expect to see that fuel consumption take a further pounding).
You also need a good few revs on board for overtaking or getting out of the hole quickly.
The 16-inch alloys are shod with very high profile Dunlop tyres that provide a compliant ride (it’s pretty good) and are more-suited off-road than lower-profile rubber.
Push a little quickly into a corner though and understeer arrives early before being awkwardly gathered up by the AWD system.
There’s nothing fundamentally wrong, the Outlander just doesn’t have the dynamic abilities of the Santa Fe or Kia Sorento. Or the price competitive CR-V.
A button on the console can switch the 4WD system between normal, locked and ‘eco’ mode.
Eco mode is also engaged with the dash-mounted eco button that knocks the edge off the throttle response and turns down the air-con.
However, we found that unlike, say, the Honda CR-V’s eco-mode, this appears to make little material difference to the economy figures, but certainly dulls the performance.
Refinement: The engine is buzzy under load, exacerbated by the occasionally noisy CVT.
There is also some unpleasant mechanical noise from the transmission when asked to respond quickly (like when flooring it to kick it down).
Manually shifting the CVT is also a bit of a chore; while the paddles are a neat touch and nice to use, downshifts are a little abrupt.
That noted, the Outlander is otherwise quiet, both at cruise and in traffic, with wind and tyre noise especially well-suppressed.
Suspension: While trading off handling poise, the Outlander’s ride is exceptionally comfortable and easy to live with.
Between the big, baggy 70 aspect tyres and a very astute suspension tune, rough urban and rural roads are dispatched with ease. Smaller bumps make their presence heard but not felt.
Braking: The Outlander’s brakes are competent and pull the car to a stop more than adequately when laden with people. Pile on the kilos, however, and you’ll want to plan ahead.
ANCAP rating: 5-Stars
Safety features: Seven airbags, ABS, EBD, traction and stability control, emergency brake assist, reversing camera and rear sensors all come standard.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: 5-year / 130,000km
Service costs: Service pricing is subject to Mitsubishi’s Capped Price Servicing regime. The first four services, at 15,000km intervals, are each capped at $360, $150 cheaper than the diesels and $20 more than the 4x2 models.
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY
Hyundai Santa Fe 2.4 4WD Petrol ($38,990 ) - The cheapest Santa Fe with automatic transmission is $5000 more than the Outlander.
It does have another 18kW and 20Nm of torque from its 2.4 litre engine with little real world fuel consumption penalty despite being significantly bigger and heavier.
This Korean is also, arguably, the best-looking of the 7-seater SUV segment. (see Santa Fe reviews)
Nissan Dualis +2 ti ($34,890) - The Nissan at this price is only 2WD (AWD takes the price to $38,490).
It is, however, comparable to the Mitsubishi for size and offers five-plus-two seating. It also has more features and the more modern interior but falls short for off-road capability and towing capacity.
It is also significantly down on power and there’s no diesel option, but fuel economy and performance are similar. Nissan also has capped price servicing at 10,000km intervals for between $216 and $651. (see Dualis reviews)
Holden Captiva 7 SX AWD ($38,490) - The Captiva is Holden’s Korean-built answer for the seven-seat SUV market but you will have to shop for a FWD Captiva 7 (at $32,490) to find a near price-match for the AWD Outlander.
The Captiva has a bit more power and torque but now seems a little sparse inside and does not have the same feeling of quality as the newer competition. (see Captiva reviews)
Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
That’s where the Outlander makes sense - you’d never call it cut-price because it has the essential gadgets, a good feel inside, seven seats and is agreeable on-road if not especially dynamic.
Downsides? That CVT transmission is not one of the better units, and the engine has to work hard against the Outlander’s weight if you’re looking to do anything quickly.
Styling too is a bit anonymous, if inoffensive. But if you’re looking for affordability with seven-seats, plus AWD versatility, that’s where the Outlander scores.
Pricing (excludes on-road costs)
- Outlander ES 2.0 litre petrol manual 2WD - $28,990
- Outlander ES 2.0 litre petrol CVT 2WD - $31,240
- Outlander ES 2.4 litre petrol CVT 4WD - $33,990
- Outlander LS 2.0 litre petrol CVT 2WD - $34,990
- Outlander LS 2.4 litre petrol CVT 4WD - $38,990
- Outlander LS 2.2 litre diesel automatic 4WD - $40,990
- Outlander Aspire 2.4 litre petrol CVT 4WD - $43,490
- Outlander Aspire 2.2 litre diesel automatic 4WD - $45,490