So this is a return to an automatic (or CVT actually) after numerous manuals ... so why. My last car was a Nissan X-Trail T31 in 6 speed manual which no one wanted to trade because of the transmission. So the hunt began for an auto I could live with and I found the paddle shifter equipped Outlander XLS. This feature has become one of my favourite as it allows the engine to use its full range. Now I know there are other SUVs with this feature, but not for the price of the Outlander at current Mitsubishi 2015 run out deals.The CVT works well once you get used to the way you need to use the accelerator for swift yet calm progression. Tramping on it just results in the usual CVT jump to 3000 rpm and the CVT droning begins.
Many a motoring journo has complained about the on centre feel of the steering, but I have not noticed any issue and I drive at 90km/h for half my commute everyday. And for that commute on a tight engine (less than 750 kms) the three tanks of dinosaur juice I have purchased have been between 7.8 and 8.5 l/100km. This is above the combined figure of 7.2 for the 2.4 litre 4WD, but this is a very new engine. Note that if you want the 2.4 petrol over the 2.0 (and you do) it has to be 4WD and 7 seater (unless you buy the base LS 4WD 5 seater).
Of course the handling is compromised being an SUV, but your not buying a Ferrari. Every car comparison says get the CX5 if you want a SUV that handles. I did try the CX5 and found its shorter wheel base choppy on rough roads and creates a smaller feeling interior, which is not the case for the Outlander. Yes the CX5 corners better, but my trip to work does not follow the great ocean road or any other great driving road so I was able to come to grips with the lessor handling for extra comfort and space.
The look of the ZK is a bit love it or hate it, but most admit it is a step forward from the plain Jane ZJ. There is the minor upside that there is a lot less paint facing forward for stone chips.
Overall the Outlander offers an inexpensive 7 seater option with good space, price, performance and economy that will suit the average family for the majority of their driving requirements (and it has a 5 year warranty).