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  • Strong V6; generous standard features list; flexible cabin; longer-than-average warranty
  • Ride struggles on poor roads; V6 would welcome more low-down torque; intrusive tyre noise; ageing interior; annoying multimedia system; all-new model due 2013

OUR RATING
6 / 10



Mitsubishi Outlander VRX Review
Mitsubishi Outlander VRX Review
Mitsubishi Outlander VRX Review

The Mitsubishi Outlander has long held a reputation of Japanese reliability and build quality since the launch of the second-generation in 2006. In the last six years the Outlander has remained a strong contender in the hotly contested compact SUV segment.

The 2012-model Mitsubishi Outlander is a case of much of the same, with minor safety, exterior and interior improvements for the base models and enhanced multimedia capabilities.

Mitsubishi gave us the top-of-the-range seven-seat Mitsubishi Outlander VRX over the recent Christmas holiday period and we decided to take it on board as the main family vehicle. This meant packing it full of all the Christmas presents, baby seats and even our two dogs as we headed southwest from Brisbane to Warwick.

From the outside the Outlander has remained largely unchanged since its launch in 2006. It remains as one of the more aggressive-looking SUVs on the market today, thanks in large to its big, wide, Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution-inspired chrome grille and accentuated bonnet lines.

It may be classed in the compact SUV segment but in reality it’s a relatively large vehicle, with more than enough room to comfortably fit five adults. The additional two seats in the third row also make it a viable choice for big families that have young ones.

Mitsubishi Outlander VRX Review
Mitsubishi Outlander VRX Review
Mitsubishi Outlander VRX Review
Mitsubishi Outlander VRX Review

Outlander VR and VRX variants are powered by a 3.0-litre V6 engine that manages a healthy 169kW and 291Nm of torque, a very different offering from the 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine (125kW 226Nm) in the LS/XLS.

Behind the wheel the V6 tends to make its fair share of noise when pushed but it does deliver good acceleration feel and makes highway overtaking a breeze. V6 variants are only available with a six-speed automatic transmission (as opposed to manual or CVT for the 2.4L) and sip 10 litres of fuel per 100km, just 0.7L/100km more than their smaller-engined 4WD siblings.

Mitsubishi advertises the Outlander as a practical family SUV with a sporty nature. This is perhaps most obvious when you appreciate the 18-inch alloys, steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters and chrome highlights all around. However when push comes to shove, the Outlander is, well, just a decent-sized SUV.

Around twisty roads, we felt Mitsubishi’s Super All Wheel Control (S-AWC) system aiding the vehicle in and out corners but still presenting a noticeable amount of torque steer on the odd occasion.

You probably wouldn’t notice it, but S-AWC incorporates the active front differential, yaw rate feedback control, active stability control and ABS to work out the best way to deliver power to all four wheels. It also allows swift changing between Tarmac (paved roads), Snow (slippery roads) and Lock (dirt/off-road) to better handle the terrain, making the Outlander one of the better compact SUVs if the outdoors are your thing.

Mitsubishi Outlander VRX Review
Mitsubishi Outlander VRX Review
Mitsubishi Outlander VRX Review
Mitsubishi Outlander VRX Review

During our two-week review period our red Outlander sipped 10.3L of fuel per 100km, which is more than reasonable given the weight it was carrying. The Mitsubishi Outlander could certainly do with a diesel engine (available in Europe) for better fuel economy and extra torque but that’s unlikely until the next generation arrives here next year.

Perhaps the biggest criticism of the Outlander is reserved for its interior, as even the top of the range VRX variants suffer from a Spartan plastic-orientated cabin. The comfortable leather seats for both the front and second row plus leather inserts around the cabin and on the doors (VRX) do little to compensate for the overall feel of the ageing cabin. Additionally, the three air-conditioning dials are a little flimsy and could certainly do with a digital display.

The VRX’s party piece, the Mitusbishi Multi Communication System (MMCS), which includes satellite navigation via its 7-inch touch screen, is by far one of the most counter-intuitive systems we’ve experienced.

Its inclusion deletes USB input and Bluetooth 2.0 wireless data transfer, while the supplied iPod connecting cable also fails to charge an iPhone/iPod. In essence you can’t charge your iPod/iPhone and play music at the same time, which is simply illogical and left us with a dead iPhone on more than one occasion.

The problem with this wouldn’t be so pronounced if the base model Outlander didn’t get a better system. The variants without MMCS miss out on the screen and satellite navigation but get Bluetooth audio streaming and USB support. This allows simple wireless music streaming whilst your iPhone charges, or you can just plug it in via USB. It also means Android phone users are able to connect their device via USB.

Mitsubishi Outlander VRX Review
Mitsubishi Outlander VRX Review
Mitsubishi Outlander VRX Review
Mitsubishi Outlander VRX Review

As for the satellite navigation itself, the system suffers from poorly designed software and could do with a more user-friendly interface, as it requires far too many steps to perform simple tasks. It does, however, incorporate the reverse-view camera system, which is a must for a car as big as the Outlander. The non-MMCS models have their reversing camera incorporated into the rear-view mirror (which, ironically, makes more sense as you’re likely to be looking at the mirror than at the centre instrument cluster).

Saving the worst till last, though, is the VRX’s Bluetooth phone system. In our test car it was barely usable. The audio comes out via a speaker mounted on the driver’s side (instead of the stereo system) and we found the volume to be so low (and we couldn’t find any way of turning it up – update: we’ve been told it can be turned up, whilst in a call, using the audio controls on the steering wheel) that we could hardly hear the other party.

The Rockford Fosgate 710-watt nine-speaker and 10-inch subwoofer audio system is an absolute delight, however. The kids will also love the rear seat entertainment with wireless headphones.

Our advice is to go for an Outlander VR or lower spec model, which doesn’t have the MMCS, as it’s by no means an advantage. If you don’t need 4WD capability, the front-wheel-drive models are also ideal for city commuting (not available in the V6). At the end of our two-week test drive, we came to appreciate the Outlander as a practical, easy to drive and good-looking SUV.

Mitsubishi Outlander VRX Review
Mitsubishi Outlander VRX Review
Mitsubishi Outlander VRX Review

It offers more than enough room for large families and the boot can accommodate nearly anything Ikea sells. It’s also an ideal vehicle if you have big dogs. The V6 is our pick of the bunch for the extra power and better acceleration, with marginal increase in fuel economy.

The 60-litre fuel tank means you’re unlikely to get more than 550km out of a tank so you may be a frequent visitor to your local petrol station. Overall, it’s unfortunate that what is otherwise a decent compact SUV is tarnished by its multimedia system.

All Mitsubishi Outlanders are fitted with driver and front passenger airbags as well as side and curtain airbags, which results in the maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating.

The Outlander VRX certainly offers plenty, as it should considering it’s at the pricier end of the compact SUV spectrum, though there are also a number of nagging issues that keeps it behind the leading pack of models in the segment.


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MITSUBISHI OUTLANDER BREAKDOWN

Mitsubishi Outlander VRX Review
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  • Jayden

    Great review. It’s always obvious when a tester has actually driven a car rather than take it for an hour-long spin and it’s great to see some good advice on which model.

  • Other

    Does the image of the dash actually say the consumption average is 42.5 L/100km ?

    • http://www.caradvice.com.au/ Alborz Fallah

      That’s the instantaneous view, when standing still it sort of goes a little over the top.

  • VSSR

    Not really, I have as ASX, It shows(L/100km) that kind of a reading in the initial few KM of driving when you reverse the car

  • DWS1

    Alborz, how does this compare to the two other versions …The variations from Peugeot 4007 and Citroen C-Crosser? They are the same vehicle but both have 2.2 diesels with classier looks. (And dual clutch autos).

    • nickdl

      Citroen isn’t sold here. The Peugeot is uglier IMO and it costs more than the VRX without the multimedia screen, so maybe a good thing depending on how you look at it. A Peugeot 508 wagon is so much better for the money.

    • http://www.caradvice.com.au/ Alborz Fallah

      You can read my review of the 4007 here: http://www.caradvice.com.au/64153/peugeot-4007-review-road-test/

      It was much more expensive when I tested it than it is now, but even so, I did like it better than the outlander for its diesel engine and revised interior (different seats etc) – but ultimately its an Outlander with a Peugeot face. It’s even built by Mitsubishi!

  • Vic

    Well for me I think the flawed media interface is a deal breaker..

  • m2m

    I heard a black SUV start up at the pump next to me not taking any notice of what it was. It sounded really meaty, looked over and it was an Outlander VRX! Not really relevant to the natural buyer of them but it sounded fantastic!

  • MisterZed

    $52,640?!  Rofl.  No thanks.

    • Spludge

      Real-world drive-away is closer to $48k….

      • MisterZed

        Well, I see that the current drive-away price on the VR-X is $53,990. You can get a CX-7 Luxury for $46,990 drive-away.

        • Spludge

          Not sure where you got $50k+ plus prices from – I got mine for less than $49k from Phil Gilbert Auburn not that long ago.

  • Cam

    The MMCS flaws are the main reason why I went for a regular 4WD ASX as opposed to the Aspire.

  • Spludge

    The MMCS iPod cable will definitely charge normal iPods just fine – my 160Gb one never leaves the glovebox unless it’s needed to add more music.

    • http://www.caradvice.com.au/ Alborz Fallah

      It didn’t charge our iPod Touch or iPhone 4 or 4S (tested all three) but perhaps the pin configuration is different for yours?

  • Spludge

    The MMCS BT audio volume is adjusted independently of the radio system volume – you need to be in a call to adjust it.

    The single rightside speaker is used for the satnav spoken instructions as well as the phone system, and is plenty loud enough.

    • http://www.caradvice.com.au/ Alborz Fallah

      How do you adjust it when you’re in the call? I tried doing it whilst on the call as well, but there was no response from the MMCS volume control and there was no other place I could see where a volume change could take place. I am sure it’s possible, which is what I said I couldn’t find out how to do it, and that was two weeks of trying to figure it out, so if it’s that complicated, it probably needs a rethink.

  • MisterZed

    Apparently, less than 1 in 10 Outlanders sold is a V6.

  • Bob

    Alborz, i jumped into my uncles VRX outlander today, paired my Samsung Galaxy S2 phone and made a call…. During the call the volume from the bluetooth speaker was able to be adjusted up and down by using the steering wheel mounted volume control buttons.

    The bluetooth volume can only be adjusted during a actually call though (the same as my wifes SP25 mazda and my FPV F6).

    • http://www.caradvice.com.au/ Alborz Fallah

      Thanks for that Bob. I tried using the MMCS to turn the volume up not the steering wheel controls (i figured they were the same). I will make a note to the review.

  • Richo

    I have a VR Outlander and to be honest once your past the whizz bangery of the pretty stuff on the VRX model, the VR model is the much better buy, mechanically identical and a hell of a lot cheaper!

    Real world fuel economy isn’t great, but performance is very strong, the V6 engine has a pretty meaty note to it which is nice, the gearbox can be a bit frustrating though, hunts between the gears quite a bit. Interior quality doesn’t look all that great compared to VW for example, cheap plastics etc, but build quality is very good, after 2 years and 50,000km’s there are no rattles. Yeah the ride can be a bit choppy, but generally its a pretty in-offensive drive which I guess is what 99% of SUV buyers are after, you’d buy a sportscar if you where after a performance drive and you’d buy a proper 4WD if you where after off road performance.

  • Richo

    Also there is quite a bit of torque steer when the diffs are in tarmac mode, not a problem when driving around town but on twisty roads its a bit annoying and wheel spin is very easy to get because tarmac mode is  basically FWD with a little bit of rear drive once front wheel spin is detected. Also in the wet just driving normally in tarmac road its easy to spin the front wheels.

    In the wet or when your getting up it a bit then your best to put it in snow mode which is more of a proper 4WD mode.

    Also on occassiosn when driving on my families rural property on muddy modes, the car has very good traction in “lock”, the active diffs seem to do a pretty good job of splitting the torque between the 4 wheels.

    • Richo

      *muddy roads

  • Snap

    Wow for 52k in Nrth America you get an RX450H, Lexus GX

    • Douglas9305

      Ah – there I would expect a reviewer to be incapable of operating volume controls and write about it in a review – without reading the owners manual……

      • http://www.caradvice.com.au/ Alborz Fallah

        I’m of the approach that if you need to go through the owner’s manual of a car to work out how to turn the bluetooth volume up, something has gone wrong in the user interface design. Nonetheless, I did, of course, try to turn the volume up mid-call but also had no luck doing so. Perhaps it was just the test car had an issue with its speaker (as the microphone was also really poor)

        • Douglas9305

          Let me get this right….

          You are a professional reviewer. You are handed a vehicle to review, and you proceed to operate the vehicle; discover you don’t understand how something works and rather than researching it (by reading the provided manual) you publish an article in ignorance.

          • http://www.caradvice.com.au/ Alborz Fallah

            No. I try all the common ways to make something work – if something as simple as turning up the volume requires research – then I see that as a bit of an issue.

  • Angel

    Thank you so much with the review. We read different reviews but kept coming back to yours when looking at a 2nd hand one with low km’s. Despite a few niggles you had about the sound system and other things we decided to get one and don’t regret it one bit.

Mitsubishi Outlander Specs

VR-X (7 SEAT) : 3.0L MULTI POINT F/INJ - 6 SP AUTO SPORTS MODE - UNLEADED PETROL - 4D WAGON
Car Details
Make
MITSUBISHI
Model
OUTLANDER
Variant
VR-X (7 SEAT)
Series
ZH MY12
Year
2012
Body Type
4D WAGON
Seats
7
Engine Specifications
Engine Type
MULTI POINT F/INJ
Engine Size
3.0L
Cylinders
V6
Max. Torque
291Nm @  3750rpm
Max. Power
169kW @  6250rpm
Pwr:Wgt Ratio
96.4W/kg
Bore & Stroke
87.6x82.9mm
Compression Ratio
9.5
Valve Gear
VARIABLE SINGLE OVERHEAD CAM
Drivetrain Specifications
Transmission
6 SP AUTO SPORTS MODE
Drive Type
4x4
Final Drive Ratio
3.571
Fuel Specifications
Fuel Type
UNLEADED PETROL
Fuel Tank Capacity
60
Fuel Consumption (Combined)
10.4L / 100km
Weight & Measurement
Kerb Weight
1754
Gross Vehicle Weight
Not Provided
Height
1740mm
Length
4640mm
Width
1800mm
Ground Clearance
210mm
Towing Capacity
Brake:1600  Unbrake:750
Steering & Suspension
Steering Type
RACK & PINION - POWER ASSISTED
Turning Circle
10.6
Front Rim Size
7.0x18
Rear Rim Size
7.0x18
Front Tyres
225/55 R18
Rear Tyres
225/55 R18
Wheel Base
2670
Front Track
1540
Rear Track
1540
Front Brakes
DISC - VENTILATED
Rear Brakes
DISC
Standard Features
Comfort
Automatic Air Con / Climate Control, Heated Front Seats, Power front seat Driver
Control & Handling
18 Inch Alloy Wheels, Electronic Brake Force Distribution, Electronic Stability Program, Hill Holder
Driver
Cruise Control, Leather Steering Wheel, Multi Function Steering Wheel, Mobile Phone Connectivity
Engine & Transmission
Limited Slip Differential
Entertainment
CD with 6 CD Stacker
Exterior
Fog Lights - Front
Interior
Leather Upholstery
Safety
Dual Airbag Package, Anti-lock Braking, Head Airbags, Protective Glazing
Security
Central Locking Remote Control, Engine Immobiliser
Optional Features
Exterior
Metallic Paint
Other
Service Interval
12 months /  15,000 kms
Warranty
60 months /  130,000 kms
VIN Plate Location
9-H-13
Country of Origin
JAPAN