The secret’s Out
reacquainted with the experience new-car buyers go through every weekend, which can be unnecessarily harrowing and time-consuming.
For the record, our midweek jaunt to a caryard forecourt was relatively hasslefree, with the salesman demonstrating good knowledge and only one serious faux pas, wrongly claiming metallic paint on a rival was $1200 (it was $400).
First, the basics. It’s an allnew model (so why does it have a sad face?) but it sits on the previous car’s underpinnings. The width and wheelbase are identical; the rear bumper is 5mm shorter than before.
Prices start at $28,990 for a base 2.0-litre petrol manual front-wheel-drive model.
But that rises quickly. Fitted with automatic transmission (which most people buy), the front-driver is $31,240 plus onroad costs. Most Outlander models are priced between $35,000 and $46,000.
This makes the starting price dearer than that of the highly regarded Mazda CX-5, which is $29,880 with automatic transmission and gets a rear camera as standard (the new base Mitsubishi does not).
The Outlander doesn’t even get rear sensors at this money. Cue the first ‘‘ tut-tut’’. The dearer Outlander models, however, come with a rear camera as well as sensors.
The split tailgate of the previous Outlander that many buyers love (because they can use it as a makeshift picnic bench, nappy change table or somewhere to crook your leg while you wriggle into your running shoes) is no more.
And the loading lip at the rear is higher than before, so there’s a little more heavy lifting to do.
The second-row seat no longer stows and folds elegantly and automatically at the tug of one tag. The new design is a more manual arrangement; you first must stow the lower cushion, then drop the backrest.
The advantage of this design is that you get about 30cm of extra cargo space and a perfectly flat floor. On fiveseater models, the cargo area has hidden underfloor storage space; on seven-seater models there is a flat load space when the third-row pews are stowed.
The chilled storage area above the glovebox is also gone.
Despite these issues, first impressions of the interior are good, with better quality materials than before— the dash is made entirely of softtouch padding. The layout is cleaner and less fussy. There are two 12V charge points, a USB socket and Bluetooth with music streaming.
There’s plenty of oddment storage front and rear, including six cup holders in five-seat varieties (eight in the seven-seaters).
In a welcome change, the steering wheel now has reach as well as height adjustment. The glass area is smaller on the new model but vision is good all around, aided in part by the convex side mirrors.
Time to hit the road. It may be the proverbial lap around the block but we end up adding 5.8km to the demonstrator model’s odometer.
The $38,990 (plus $495 for metallic paint) 2.4-litre parttime all-wheel-drive model with CVT auto and seven seats feels peppy despite the sharp incline.
It rides on relatively small 16-inch wheels but the tyres do a good job of soaking up the worst of the road surfaces and the Outlander is significantly quieter and smoother than the outgoing model.
The most impressive aspect for me, though, is the steering: light, precise and direct, a highlight of the car.
First impressions of the new Outlander are generally positive yet there are some aspects that owners of the existing model will miss— the lack of a camera as standard on the base model is an alarming omission on an allnew car. Especially when the Mazda and Honda rivals have it.
Meanwhile, faced with the choice between a runout Outlander at $10,000 off the RRP or a new one, I’minclined to go with the old model. Problem is, they’re almost all sold out.
At least the new one is much more fuel efficient. Mitsubishi now just needs to either sharpen the price, add a rear camera or both. Stand by for a more extensive review after more time behind the wheel.
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130,000km 7 airbags
2.0-litre and 2.4-litre petrol, 2.2-litre diesel
5-speed manual, 6-speed CVT
6.6L/100km (2.0), 7.5L (2.4), 5.8 (2.2)