Handsome looks are just the beginning.
- Mitsubishi Outlander VRX; 3.0-litre, V6, petrol; six-speed automatic; wagon - $45,490*
The handsome new looks of the Mitsubishi Outlander quickly had me keen to get to know it better, and after a week behind the wheel, it's clear that the Mitsubishi Outlander's appeal extends well beyond the metal. It's a good package, but the competition is tough.
It's all too easy for a 'new' SUV to get lost in the crowd - to your average punter, they all look very similar. But dig deeper into the detail of engine variants and costly options and the differences are clear - and so the winners and losers emerge. The Outlander exists, well, somewhere in the middle.
The Outlander is offered with two engine variants across a four model range as follows:
- LS/XLS (2.4-litre): 125kW / 226Nm
- VR/VRX (3.0-litre): 169kW / 291Nm
The XLS comes with Mitsubishi's all-wheel control, allowing the driver to switch between two and four-wheel drive. The VRX has super all-wheel control (SAWC), which calls into play the active front differential, yaw rate feedback control, stability control and anti-lock braking for optimal road handling. With this technology on board, the Outlander does produce a stable, road hugging ride which fills you with a great sense of confidence in the Outlander's ability.
While the 2.4-litre engine of the LS and XLS pumps out 125kW and 226Nm and does a nice job of moving the Outlander, you would expect the 3.0-litre V6 of the VR and VRX to be the pick of bunch. It's quick and powerful. The bigger engine, at 169kW and 291Nm, is really where you want to be for a vehicle of this size and weight.
In the VRX, torque peaks at 3,750rpm and, in this zone, the Outlander's engine is crisp and power aplenty. However, this additional power doesn't translate quite as well as you would hope.
There are moments when the 2.4-litre engine out shines the more needy V6. It delivers a very competent ride, without the fuss of the energetic V6.
The Outlander's steering is very light and precise, although at higher speeds cornering can feel a little vague and there's a bit of dipping of the nose. This is more obvious in the V6, where the additional power has the potential to create a less refined drive, including wheel spin. Aside from this, the cabin maintains its composure and delivers a smooth ride. The LS is a more tame ride and overall, it behaves with a touch more finesse than the V6.
The Outlander boasts Mitsubishi's deep grille that is seen across the range of vehicles these days. And it sets up a lovely shape on the Outlander. There are no huge slabs of metal, but rather the Outlander has nice body lines and well proportioned panels all round. The VRX has integrated fog lights up front, a chrome framed grille, 18-inch alloy wheels, electric sunroof and twin exhausts.It has a lovely modern look, and the cabin interior follows suit.
Upon entering the Outlander, you're welcomed by beautiful leather seats - heated for driver and front passenger. Unfortunately they're not as comfortable as they are good looking. The cabin is cosy and compact and feels smaller than its exterior leads you to expect. Smaller, but by no means small.
The Outlander's interior feels of a very high quality, but without the busy bling of many of its rivals; it's fairly understated, which gives the impression that things may be a little underdone in the Outlander - but that's not the case. The one central touch screen controls pretty much everything, from audio to in-car settings - for this reason, the dash looks sparse and you're left with large plastic slabs inside. Lots of nice curved lines however do well to distract from the plastic on show. It's a fine balance between clean minimalism and bland. Contrast stitching on seats and on doors and some splashes of chrome save the day in this regard.
While the electric driver's seat allows for good adjustability, the lack of reach adjust on the steering wheel is disappointing.
The cabin of the Outlander seemed to be constantly filled with a chorus of beeps and tones - from the various in-cabin warning sounds of seat belt sensors and parking assist, to the audio volume control. Beeping overkill.
The multi-function wheel sees cruise control, audio and phone at your finger tips. The wheel is however a little thin in hand. In the VRX model, paddle shifts are standard, but they're the fixed kind, that don't move with the wheel. They are however quite long, so reaching them isn't as bad as it first seems.
The chrome and leather gear shift looks good and feels nice in hand.
In cabin storage is great, with a variety of holes and a double lidded box in the centre arm rest. A large, two compartment glove box offers good storage, as well as a heat and chill function.
Big wing mirrors give great side visibility, however sloping roof line to rear, large headrests and small windows make for poor rearward visibility. As with most SUVs, the reversing camera is a god send. This sloping roof line also intrudes upon back seat headroom and no doubt comfort for taller passengers. Add to this some high window sills and the second row feels a little enclosed for my liking. Second row passengers are however graced with comfortable seats and a DVD player, but no air vents.
The Outlander also offers a third row option across the entire range to accommodate up to seven passengers.
When you explore the versatile space the Outlander has to offer, this vehicle begins to shine more brightly. The fold-up mechanism of the second row seats - electronic roll-and-tumble - is effortless thanks to a button that can be found in the boot.
Cargo capacity starts at 882-litres with the seats up and expands to 1,691-litres with the rear seats folded. The split tailgate is also great, and makes opening the back a much less cumbersome chore.
While the Outlander offers an abundance of space, it doesn’t feel too big or overwhelming to manouvre. For every day driving, with a baby and teenager on board, I found the Outlander versatile and comfortable, with ample space.
The vertically challenged will appreciate the lower seat line of the Outlander. Ground clearance is 215mm, but cabin design ensures ease of entry and exit. I didn't need a step to get onto the driver’s seat, nor did I tumble out upon exit. There are three child seat anchor points for the second row seats and access is good. Minor points like exposed bolts on the seat fittings are disappointing and lower the tone of the cabin.
All models have an approach angle of 22-degrees and departure angle of 21-degrees. Ramp breakover angle is 19-degrees.
The Outlander's safety features include driver and front passenger airbags, active stability control and anti-lock brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution. Side and curtain airbags come standard across the range, except for in the entry-level LS where they are an option. Outlander is awarded a five-star rating from ANCAP.
Average combined fuel consumption (per ADR figures) for the Outlander range is quoted at as follows:
- 2.4-litre (Manual): 9.5L/100km
- 2.4-litre (CVT): 9.3L/100km
- 3.0-litre (Automatic): 10.4L/100km
Bluetooth, iPod, MP3 and USB connectivity keep the Outlander's audio interface up to date, while the sub-woofer found in the boot of the VRX ensures you are completely spoilt for sound.
Pricing for the Outlander starts at $32,990* for the LS and up to $49,990* for the VRX Luxury seven-seater. The five-seat VRX we tested is priced at $45,490*.
*Pricing is a guide as recommended to us by the manufacturer.
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