BORN-AGAIN OUT­LANDER

MIT­SUBISHI GIVES SUV A NEW LOOK, IN­SIDE AND OUT

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Driveway - Chris Ri­ley

MIT­SUBISHI'S mid-sized Out­lander has just un­der­gone a com­plete makeover.

The changes are so ex­ten­sive, the com­pany claims the car feels and drives like an en­tirely new ve­hi­cle.

That may be so but Out­lander is still up against some stiff op­po­si­tion, with a price tag that makes the job harder.

Its top three com­peti­tors – Mazda's CX-5, Nissan X-Trail and Toy­ota RAV4 – are up to $1300 cheaper and all out­sell Out­lander at the rate of two to one.

At the same time, the mar­ket­ing fo­cus seems to be on the $50,000 hy­brid ver­sion of the car.

Prices start from $28,490 for the five-seat, front-wheel-drive, LS man­ual with a 2.0-litre en­gine: a $750 in­crease. Stan­dard equip­ment in­cludes cloth trim, cli­mate air, Blue­tooth phone and au­dio, LED day­time run­ning lights, front and rear fog lights, a rear view cam­era, tyre pres­sure mon­i­tor­ing and rear park­ing sen­sors, plus 18inch al­loy wheels.

The bold new front marks the ar­rival of Mit­subishi's new ‘Dy­namic Shield’ con­cept.

Some might think it smacks of Lexus but Mit­subishi says it has been in­her­ited from the bumper side pro­tec­tion seen for gen­er­a­tions on the Pa­jero.

Chrome and sil­ver plated grille, sil­ver skid plate, LED day­time run­ning lamps and fog lamp bezel com­plete the look.

In­side there's a re­designed wheel, new trim ac­cents, more com­fort­able seat­ing and pre­mium gar­nishes de­signed to give the cabin a more so­phis­ti­cated am­bi­ence.

THE en­try level LS model is front-wheel-drive only. In the LS, a 2.0-litre four cylin­der petrol en­gine de­liv­ers 110kW and 190Nm, the lat­ter from 4200 revs.

More ex­pen­sive mod­els are pow­ered by a larger, more pow­er­ful 2.4-litre en­gine.

The 2.0 is paired with ei­ther a five-speed man­ual or CVT style au­to­matic.

Fuel con­sump­tion for the man­ual is rated at 7.0 litres/100m, 5.7 for the CVT.

THE Out­lander has been a five star safety car since 2008. It is fit­ted with a full suite of driver as­sis­tance sys­tems, with seven airbags in­clud­ing a driver's knee bag.

It's also heart­en­ing to see an en­try model with a rear view cam­era and rear park­ing sen­sors as stan­dard; oth­ers re­serve these for more ex­pen­sive mod­els.

Vis­ually, it's much bet­ter than be­fore.

The strik­ing new face and other changes have man­aged to rid the car of its weird cigar shape.

The car feels nice, tight and quiet, but the man­ual is cry­ing out for a six-speed change.

While the five-speed is OK around town, its short­com­ings be­come ob­vi­ous when you hit the mo­tor­way, where the car feels like it is work­ing too hard.

En­gine revs re­main too high and it never seems to quite set­tle down, even in top gear.

The front pews are com­fort­able, aided by a wheel that is reach as well as height ad­justable. But the rear seats are thin and de­cid­edly less com­fort­able.

Pair­ing a mo­bile phone is overly com­pli­cated and re­quires a con­certed ef­fort.

A bet­ter ride has been achieved through in­creased rigid­ity, re­vised sus­pen­sion and re­cal­i­brated power steer­ing. Cabin noise has also been re­duced with a mod­i­fied air in­take sys­tem, noise-iso­lat­ing wind­screen, im­proved weather strip­ping, new tyres, damper tun­ing and mod­i­fied sus­pen­sion mounts.

Ver­dict: It's good, but this one is held back by the trans­mis­sion. We look for­ward to try­ing the CVT ver­sion.

Mit­subishi's Out­lander has had a ma­jor makeover.

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