Get out and about
Five or seven seats, front or allwheel drive ... the Outlander suited almost all needs
MITSUBISHI has long enjoyed a fine reputation for off-roaders with models such as the Pajero being particularly popular. It was well placed to score when the soft-roader craze took hold.
The first Outlander wasn’t the most attractive car when it launched but Mitsubishi softened the looks over time. When the ZJ series was launched in 2012 it was a much more pleasant car to look at.
There were variants to suit almost every need: five- and seven-seat versions, the choice of front-wheel drive and ondemand four-wheel drive, and petrol and diesel engines.
Inside, it was neat and tidy, with quality materials used and everything laid out sensibly.
The cabin was roomy and flexible in layout. There was plenty of room for those sitting in the second row of seats, and in the seven-seater the third row seats were more than adequate for kids or adults on a short journey.
SUVs have to be flexible and the Outlander was. The middlerow seat could be folded flat to increase the space for luggage.
Buyers could choose between two petrol fourcylinder engines, a 2.0 and a 2.4-litre, and a 2.2-litre turbo diesel. Front-drive variants got the 2.0-litre and either a five- speed manual or constantly variable transmission.
The on-demand four-wheel drive version had the option of the 2.4-litre or the turbo diesel.
Diesel buyers got a six-speed auto and those who bought the 2.4 got the CVT.
On the road the Outlander was smooth and quiet, the suspension was nicely tuned to local roads and the ride and handling was good for a car of its type. With electronic stability control standard across the range and a full array of airbags, the Outlander scored five stars from ANCAP. NOW Owners are a contented lot if those we surveyed are a good guide. They were full of praise for their cars and the only complaints they aired were fairly minor.
The 2.0-litre front-drivers were felt to be on the small side by a couple of owners. The performance wasn’t as good as they would like.
Another owner thought the interior was a little drab, though at launch reviewers generally praised the quality of the materials used in the cabin, and the fit and finish.
Mechanically there were virtually no problems reported, which sings silent praise for the Outlander’s engines and transmissions.
There were no reports of issues with the CVT but it’s worth paying particular attention to the transmission when test-driving before purchase. Take note of anything that doesn’t seem right, particularly any shuddering, which might indicate a problem.
Servicing is also paramount, so check for a creditable service record that shows proper maintenance has been done.
As SUVs are mostly employed in family service, check the cabin carefully for signs of abuse from the smaller members of the clan. Look for things such as food stains, tears and broken fittings. OWNERS SAY
I have an LS, which is OK, except for the 2.0-litre engine. It’s gutless. I wouldn’t buy another one; it’s not good value for money.
My 2014 ES has done 50,000km without any problem to speak of. Overall I’m happy with it.
I can’t praise my 2012 LS enough; it’s a lovely car. It’s spacious, has good power and is very cheap to run.
Our Aspire is a great car. The third row is more spacious than most, and it’s economical. The only thing we’re not keen on is the dash, which doesn’t look great.
We had a 2012 LS, which we found to be a great car, so much so that we sold it to our son and bought the latest model. They are spacious with amazing room in the rear and an enormous boot. Our ZJ was economical, had great ride and handling, and we didn’t have any problem with it. SMITHY SAYS A solid, sound and safe SUV for family transport.