Mitsubishi Outlander review
The Mitsubishi Outlander is a spacious, comfortable and practical rival to the Freelander, with an efficient hybrid version
The Mitsubishi Outlander builds on Mitsubishi’s reputation for rugged off-roaders and adds super-efficient engines to make it even more appealing. Its new styling is distinctive, and it offers even more space than before plus great value, with seven seats across the range. There is currently only one version – a 174bhp 2.2-litre diesel – but a PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle) will join the line up in mid-2013. Rivals like the Land Rover Freelander and Hyundai Santa Fe offer more variety and the Outlander’s interior lacks sparkle. But if you want a dependable, sturdy SUV that’s cheap to run and comes with lots of stadnard kit, the Outlander is a good choice.
Our choice: Outlander 2.2 DI-D GX3
The Mitsubishi Outlander has a smoother look than its predecessor, despite both using the same Lancer-based underpinnings. It’s been given a more curvaceous look in tune with the manufacturer’s latest design language, with LED headlamps and a large ‘staging’ - as Mitsubishi calls it - of the three-diamond logo. There’s simple chrome detailing on the grille, window line and across the rear, where there’s a neat light cluster that stretches across the tailgate. It’s not as aggressive-looking as some 4x4s, and all models ride on 18-inch alloys, which actually look a bit too small on the new body. It’s more aerodynamic, too, with underbody panels helping to aid efficiency.
The Mitsubishi Outlander has good road manners, but it’s far from refined. There’s still a lot of wind noise on the motorway, and the diesel’s noisy idle never really smooths out to a quieter hum, although it is overshadowed by tyre noise on the motorway. This latest model has less power than the previous car, but the same 380Nm of torque is delivered at 1,750rpm instead of 2,000rpm making it more enjoyable to drive. A 135kg weight reduction makes a big difference to performance and handling, too. Handling is predictable and it’s an easy car to drive – the steering isn’t too heavy and the brakes are strong. Throttle response is good, not great, and the ride is comfortable, apart from the odd larger bump upsetting the balance. Off-road, the Outlander is quite capable, while a locking centre diff boosts its ability. The hybrid model is smooth, and while you won’t feel the switch from EV mode to petrol, you will hear the loud jump in revs when it happens.
The Outlander should uphold Mitsubishi’s excellent reputation for reliability. The engines are updated versions of existing units, while Mitsubishi isn’t new to electric technology - as its iMiEV electric city car proves. The use of high-tensile steel has made the body stiffer and safer, and there’s also plenty of standard safety equipment including seven airbags on higher-spec models, ABS, traction control as well as the security of four-wheel drive. All this helped the Outlander achieve a full five-stars when it was tested by Euro NCAP in its stringent crash tests. There’s also hi-tech kit available on top GX5 cars, such as Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Departure Warning and a Forward Collision Mitigation System. However, the variety of beeps and bells that sound every time this kit is activated, or you do anything, can become highly irritating.
The Mitsubishi Outlander is bigger than the previous model, with a 240mm-longer boot and a maximum 1,022 litres of space – 33 litres more than the previous car. It comes with seven seats as standard, too, while they’re offered as an extra in the Hyundai Santa Fe. They’re a little tricky to access, but the second and third rows fold easily with a one-touch mechanism. The third row is only really suitable for children, but it’s wider than before and, instead of the old car’s bench, it’s now a 50:50 split fold with individually adjustable backrests, The boot also has additional stowage beneath the floor, and there’s a powered tailgate on top-spec GX5 models. There’s plenty of room up front, too. The plug-in version doesn’t need any additional charging equipment and can be charged through a conventional power socket.
When the Outlander PHEV arrives in summer 2013, it will be one of the cheapest cars – let alone SUVs – to run. Its claimed fuel consumption of 143mpg and CO2 emissions of 49g/km is only beaten by electric vehicles and one other car – the much smaller Toyota Prius Plug-in. Servicing for the hybrid should also be cheap, as there are fewer moving parts that would usually require changing. The diesel is highly competitive, too, with figures of 52.3mpg and 140g/km of CO2 for the six-speed manual version. This is better than the most efficient Honda CR-V (50.4mpg/149g/km) and Hyundai Sante Fe (47.9mpg/155g/km), but is behind the Toyota RAV4, which manages 58.6mpg and 127g/km. It’s worth keeping in mind that the Outlander offers more load space and seats than the RAV4, though.