Simon Lai road tests and reviews the Mitsubishi Outlander at the Australian Launch.
Mitsubishi is playing catch-up in the mid-size SUV stakes with its unveiling of the new and improved 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander.
With an updated front nose, interior comfort and transmission the Japanese maker is hoping to gain a larger share of the market in this competitive segment.
The latest incarnation boasts a new, redesigned front face that has a sportier, more aggressive look featuring chrome plating and angular lines. And about time too. I was never a fan of the previous version – the squarer shape, flat, wide bonnet and horizontal lines of the grille. Now the Mitsubishi Outlander fits in more with the current standard the design and form of SUVs.
Mitsubishi has also added new rear LED lamps, fog lamp, daytime running lights and 18” alloy wheels on all models. The new mags are attractive but putting the same size and pattern on all models makes it hard to distinguish between the variants.
Speaking of which, the Outlander comes in three grades, the LS, XLS and Exceed with CVT transmission. The LS and XLS are available in a 2.0L (110kW/190Nm) engine with front wheel drive while all three can house a 2.4L (124kW/220Nm) engine with a 4WD drivetrain. The XLS and Exceed are also available in a 2.2L diesel (110kW/360Nm), 6-speed automatic.
All models also come standard with reversing camera and sensors, leather steering wheel and shifter, Bluetooth connectivity as well as revised features like fabric seats with new stitching and privacy glass.
At the launch Mitsubishi made note of the inclusion of the sunglasses holder (a standard feature in most cars these days) which is oddly positioned rather high on the roof and not adjacent to the interior light cluster. However, when you get up to the top spec, it’s again missing due to the installation of the sunroof.
The ride on the inside is also noticeably quiet and Mitsubishi have gone to great lengths to dampen the sound including replacing internal materials, seals, and insulation.
Modified suspension has also cut down the noise issue and made for a stable and comfy ride through suburban Sydney and the Kuringgai National Park. On the drive up I was in the only manual in the range, the 2.0L, 5-speed LS which retails for $28,490.
The cabin also has minor improvements such as the replica carbon fibre on the dash and door trims (wood grain in the higher models). Despite this there is something that didn’t quite sit right with me because of the odd layout of the dash. The incorporation of the vents and highlights lacked cohesion and harmony.
Driving the manual was effortless and pleasant enough though the gate for 3rd gear seemed to stick more than the others. The shifter itself was too long and knob is a very dated plastic.
Now from the entry grade model to the top spec. I got behind the wheel of the Diesel Exceed after lunch for the drive back.
As expected it had much better acceleration off the mark, giving out as much as you gave it. Overtaking was a non-issue and the handling round corners in the windy roads of the NP was respectable. Though like the LS, the steering was too light for my taste.
Mitsubishi says they’ve made improvements to their CVT system in the models with a petrol engine providing better response and transmission shifting. But due to the limited drive time, I was unable to see for myself.
The touchscreen in the Exceed had a number of navigation buttons surrounding it (the LS had none) but the dashboard was still as uninspired.
As mentioned above, the Exceed has a sunroof together with smart keyless entry and push button, power tailgate, adaptive cruise control, headlamp washers and heated, powered, leather seats.
This is on top of the sat nav, dual zone climate control, auto wipers, electrochromic mirror and folding mirrors all available in the XLS. Both also come with the full capacity 7 seats.
My best tip would be for the 2.4L XLS. You get most of the new features, AWD, CVT and all still under $37,000.
So has Mitsubishi matched it with the rest of the field? Sadly, not really. In fact they’re probably still a bit behind the 8-ball having come in a little late. Sure it’s better than before, both inside and out but it’s failed to have the same standard features found in many of its rivals without offering anything revolutionary. With opposition from the Mazda CX-5, Nissan X-TRAIL, Kia Sportage, Hyundai ix35 and the like, gaining ground is going to be a tough ask.