The Skinny: Mitsubishi may not have re-invented the wheel with its updated Outlander SUV, but it certainly gave its strong-selling family SUV a thorough going-over. The medium SUV now sports sharp new styling and under-the-skin improvements you can feel.
Families will love the seven seats, not an especially common feature among the Outlander’s competition, the quiet unfussed way it goes about things and the comfy car-like interior.
Vehicle Style: Medium SUV
Price: $36,490 (plus on-roads)
Engine/trans: 124kW/220Nm 2.4 4cyl petrol | CVT automatic
Fuel Economy claimed: 7.2 l/100km | tested: 8.5 l/100km
The soft-edged styling of the previous Outlander has been shown the door; now there's a heavily updated new model that previews Mitsubishi's new styling direction. To these eyes, it works pretty well.
Mitsubishi has made more than 100 changes to the new Outlander, both to what you see, and to what you can’t.
A sharper experience behind the wheel is promised, but the powertrains will be familiar to anyone who spent time with the previous Outlander.
We took the mid-grade XLS 'around the block' to get a grasp of what the makeover has done for the Outlander’s fortunes.
Our tester was paired with the 2.4 litre petrol four-cylinder engine (the range also offers a 2.0 litre petrol and a diesel option as well), CVT automatic and all-wheel-drive
Quality: Revisions to the interior of the Outlander keep it feeling fresh. It seems durable, and mostly well put together.
A constant rattle from somewhere behind the head unit started to test my patience, but if the front passenger was polite enough to press on the dash, it could be silenced. Consider it a one-off, as everything else was screwed together firmly.
The padded dash with gloss black and silver carbon-look highlights lifts the overall impression, and makes the Outlander a decent place to sit. The presentation doesn't have quite the up-to-the minute feel as what you'll find in some competitors (like the CX-5 and X-Trail).
Comfort: There’s seating for seven, and a quite flexible interior.
Up front, the wide flat seats will welcome all shapes and sizes. Some drivers may be looking for a little more steering reach adjustment, but there is ample seat adjustment.
A sliding second row offers more legroom than you’ll likely need in its rearmost position. It can be slid forward at the request of third-row travellers, or to make more cargo room.
There’s also angle adjustment for the second row backrest to find that ‘just so’ travelling position (which the kids will love).
The kerbside section allows third-row access, and is light and easy for the little ones to glide forward if they’re up to loading themselves in.
Row three is the tightest of the lot. It’s for kids only - or fairly flexible adults - but still offers a decent view to the sides and is great if there is a surprise addition or two on the carpool route.
Equipment: Standard equipment across the Outlander range includes Bluetooth with voice command and steering wheel controls, rear parking sensors, reverse camera, rear privacy-glass, climate control air-conditioning, leather-clad steering wheel and gearknob, cruise control, LED running lights and LED tail lights and 18-inch alloy wheels.
Extra XLS features include dual-zone climate control, seven-seat capacity, auto headlights and wipers, heated power-folding mirrors, proximity key with push-button start, cargo blind and a touchscreen infotainment system with satellite navigation.
While we applaud the on-paper spec of the infotainment system, its execution looks and feels 'aftermarket'. The menus aren’t as simple as they could be, and trying to tap the tiny on-screen buttons on the move requires too much driver attention away from the road.
Storage: Behind the third row of seats there’s 128 litres of space, with the third row folded that grows to 477 litres. Drop the second row as well and you’ll find 1608 litres to fill.
ON THE ROAD
Driveability: Power comes from a 2.4 litre four-cylinder petrol engine that produces 124kW at 6000rpm and 220Nm at 4200rpm. Drive is taken to all wheels via a CVT automatic.
Other powertrain options include a front-wheel-drive version with a 2.0 litre engine, and a diesel 4x4, driven through a six-speed automatic.
The 2.4 delivers a decent driveability compromise, while it isn’t overly torquey it can handle the job of shifting the Outlander around competently.
The CVT transmission is what Mitsubishi describes as a ‘new generation’ CVT, which promises a more positive shift-feel, sharper acceleration and better torque delivery. The truth is though, behind the wheel, the CVT can at times feel left-behind compared to a traditional automatic.
That said, for the simple act of shuffling about town, the drivetrain is well up to the task. The three-mode all-wheel-drive system (4x4 Eco, 4x4 Auto, and 4x4 Lock) is simple to operate, and will provide all the help you need if conditions out of town turn mucky.
Refinement: Wind and road noise are well contained, and the first two rows will travel in reasonably serene comfort. Our third row 'testers' (guinea pigs dragooned into helping) picked up a little more tyre noise, but didn’t rate it as a problem.
The engine and transmission combo does however tend to lock the engine into a flat-rev pattern - that CVT 'thing' - before dropping the engine down to its cruising RPM. That can make stop-go progress a tad tiresome, with a flat engine note vibing through the cabin.
Same goes for sharp acceleration - typical again of the CVT, the Outlander seems to make a lot of noise, before any forward progress. There’s obvious sound deadening at play, but it can’t overcome the engine’s roar.
Thankfully, once up to highway speeds - and it gets there briskly enough - the Outlander will cruise as peacefully as you’ll find. The engine settles into its torque band, engine noise drops right away, and progress is calm and quiet from that point on.
Ride and Handling: MacPherson-strut front suspension and a multi-link rear iron out bumps and provide a comfy ride over irregular surfaces. It feels a little stiff-jointed over smaller bumps; but add a few passengers and that settles.
There’s some movement in the bends, but ultimately the Outlander won’t upset its occupants and in a family freighter like this, that’s what matters most.
Steering is light, and well-isolated contributing to on-road comfort while keeping the Outlander effort-free in tighter confines like city lanes and carparks.
Braking: There’s a ‘light’ feel to the brake pedal, but no misgivings about the Outlander’s ability to pull up smoothly and cleanly in urban traffic.
Four wheel disc-brakes, with vented front-rotors provide ample stopping power.
ANCAP rating: 5-Stars - the Outlander scored 35.58 out of 37 possible points.
Safety features: Outlander’s standard safety features include seven airbags (dual front, front side, curtain, and driver’s knee), anti-lock brakes (ABS) with electronic brakeforce distribution and brake assist, stability and traction control, plus hill start assist.
All seating positions feature three-point seat belts, with front seatbelts equipped with load-limiting pretensioners, and height adjustable anchorages. In the middle row there’s three top-tether child seat mounting points and two ISOfix mounting points.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Five years/100,000km
Service costs: Mitsubishi offers capped price servicing for Outlander with 15,000km/12 month intervals. Each service for Outlander 4x4 costs $375, up to 60,000km/48 months (whichever occurs first).
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY
Nissan X-Trail ST-L ($37,590) - The X-trail has thoroughly decent on-road manners, and a more 'in-tune' feeling CVT. The interior has a more modern feel than the Outlander, but the impression of space isn’t as abundant.
Adding seven seats to an X-Trail means going without all-wheel-drive, so you’ll have to pick one over the other. (see X-Trail reviews)
Holden Captiva 7 LTZ ($40,490) - If you’re after a little more punch, the Captiva 7 LTZ comes with a V6 for some extra grunt. It’s a much older vehicle however, and against newer, sharper competition it shows.
That said, it offers plenty of additional equipment, like leather trim and 19-inch alloys for a relatively meagre price, so could be a way to drive your dollar further. (see Captiva reviews)
Mazda CX-5 Maxx Sport ($35,790) - Let’s say you haven’t got a need for seven seats, but have your heart set on a medium SUV. Mazda CX-5 rates as one of the best, and for a decent amount less, you can get into the mid-spec Maxx Sport with all-wheel-drive.
It comes with a far more user-friendly infotainment system, and some very decent roadholding, plus the Mazda’s 2.5 litre four-cylinder promises more power and torque, with potential to use less fuel. (see CX-5 reviews)
Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
Mitsubishi has done a good job overhauling the Outlander, it certainly looks much bolder than before, with a chrome-heavy front and more distinctive tail-lights. But the interior and on-road behaviours could be polished a little further.
And SUVs from the segment above, like the Santa Fe and related Sorento, also give the Outlander a hard time.
But, with seven seats and all-wheel-drive, the Outlander is rather unique for its size and price-point.
That shows in the sales race too, with year-to-date figures placing it fourth behind CX-5, X-Trail, and RAV4 - not a bad showing at all.
As a roomy runabout for a growing family, the Outlander fits the brief well. There’s not a lot of seven-seat choices amongst medium SUVs; on that score alone, the well-priced Outlander will give families some extra food-for-thought.
RANGE PRICING (excludes on-road costs)
2WD Outlander LS MT - $27,740
2WD Outlander LS CVT - $29,990
2WD Outlander XLS CVT - $33,490
4WD Outlander LS CVT - $32,990
4WD Outlander XLS CVT - $36,490
4WD Outlander Exceed CVT - $43,890
4WD Outlander XLS DiD 6AT - $39,490
4WD Outlander Exceed DiD 6AT - $46,890