Outlander in from the cold
You can upsize to seven seats — but can you downsize the wheels?
THE Outlander is a mustsucceed for Mitsubishi and in large part the new SUV should. It’s a diamond in the rough— there are a few harsh edges— but it definitely deserves shopping against the latest crop of mid-sized soft-roaders.
Sitting on the same chassis as the outgoing model, it has new panels and suspension that help cut the weight by 100kg and lift its towing capacity to up to 2000kg.
The diesel is a more than decent engine and the one to go for. If you can’t do the oilburner, the 2.4-litre petrol is a willing playmate, even with a continuously variable transmission. Two of these overheated on the launch drive. An explanation is being sought.
As with its competitors, the Outlander comes in front and all-wheel drive guises but is the only vehicle in this class to have five- and seven-seat options.
TheFWDmodels are restricted to the 2.0-litre petrol engine and the ES version costs $28,990 with the five-speed manual. The CVT adds $2300.
Entry to theAWDranks comes via a 2.4-litre petrol engine with a CVT at $33,490. A step up in trim to the LS brings seven seats and a $38,990 tag. The 2.2-litre diesel is only sold in seven-seat set-up and with a six-speed auto. Its pricing starts at $40,990 and climbs to $45,490.
You have to pay to get the good stuff. The ES-badged base models have reverse sensors in place of a camera, which kicks in with the 6.1-inch touchscreen on the LS. Those who want a burger with the lot need to buy the Aspire and then spend an extra $5500 for the Premium pack that adds automated emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, better sound system and powered tailgate. A plug-in hybrid will join the Outlander line-up midway through next year.
If it’s what’s on the inside that counts, the Outlander counts as a big step up.
Better feeling switchgear and soft-touch plastics give the cabin a quality feel compared to its predecessor.
The downside is the deletion of the glovebox chiller and twopiece tailgate. Also worth a ‘‘ Do’h’’ is the Aspire model’s subwoofer on the left rear cargo area— which stops the removable cargo blind from being stowed in its floor recess.
Some will appreciate the extra space in the third-row seats; others will bemoan the fact cargo space has dropped by more than 100 litres to 477 (with the third row seats folded). The second-row seats no longer tumble flat in a one-touch operation but the flipside is they add another 30cm to cargo length, so that Ikea table will almost certainly fit in the back.
The front end is smartlooking, its horizontal emphasis contrasting with the Tritoninspired round fog lamps on the Aspire.
ANCAP rates the Outlander a five-star car. A reinforced passenger cell uses more hightensile metals and there are seven airbags. The only area the Outlander copped criticism for was the bonnet edge, with not enough give where kids’ heads could come into contact.
Its overall score of 35.58 out of 37 just trails the Honda CRV and Volvo XC60.
Sometimes bigger isn’t better. That’s the case with the ride on the range-topping Aspire’s 18-inch rims against the 16s fitted to the ES and LS models.
The lower-profile rubber gives a jittery ride on minor irregularities above 80km/h. The extra sidewall on the 16s soaks up the same bumps rather than sending them into the cabin. There’s a bit of road noise from either set but interior noise is decibels lower than before. The suspension is adequate, though it pitches and the body rolls. It isn’t as composed as a Mazda CX-5 or Subaru Forester.
The 2.2-litre turbo diesel is the pick of the engines and using the paddle shifters— solid metal ones, not flimsy
Stepping up: The Outlander hasnow entered the top bracket of mid-sized SUVs
Trade-off: The cabin has more softtouch plastic but cargo space is down