Out­lander in from the cold

You can up­size to seven seats — but can you down­size the wheels?

Herald Sun - Motoring - - First Drive - CRAIG DUFF craig.duff@cars­guide.com.au

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.

VALUE

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.

TECH­NOL­OGY

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.

DE­SIGN

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.

SAFETY

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.

DRIV­ING

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

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