Mitsubishi Outlander 2006 review

Mitsubishi’s new 4x4 has landed – and Auto Express is first behind the wheel!

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

There’s no doubt the Outlander has a lot going for it. It’s a good-looking SUV that drives well on-road. But, more importantly, it’s highly practical for families. The impressive interior features a versatile seven- seat layout which rivals can’t match. Off-road ability is adequate, and although the diesel isn’t very refined, with prices starting at £19,000, the Outlander is great value.

The next Outlander is a stylish SUV aiming to steal sales from Land Rover’s new Freelander that will also go head-to-head with the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4. Its sister models, the Citroen C-Crosser and Peugeot 4007, are due to appear in showrooms here in the summer.

With seven seats, plus a clever variable all-wheel-drive system, it puts bad memories of the previous Outlander to rest. But how does it shape up on the road? We took a test drive to find out.

Off-roaders have to look bold and muscular, and the Outlander’s chunky wheelarches, faired-in headlights and lower metal bumper certainly stand out. Details such as the silver side sills and roof bars add plenty of credibility, too.

We are less convinced by the rear overhang and strangely shaped C-pillar, although the extended tail does at least mean there’s plenty of space.

Inside, the key talking point is the seating layout. Accommodation for seven is a big bonus – and the two rearmost chairs, although only for children, are easy to fold flat into the boot floor. The middle row is also very versatile, as it can slide back and forth. A split tail­gate aids access, and the lower half can support a load of up to 200kg. What’s more, the boot capacity is competitive for the class, but you won’t be able to fit much more than a few squashy bags in with the rear row of seats in place.

In the front, the dash is clearly laid out and there’s a neat touch-screen central display. You sit high up, with an excellent view, so the Outlander feels every inch the beefy SUV. Yet it’s based on an all-new platform which will also underpin the Lancer. Add complex multi-link rear suspension, and the result is a very car-like driving experience.

As you’d expect, there’s more body roll than in the average hatchback, but the ride is comfortable and the steering accurate, if a little lacking in feel. With three settings for the drivetrain – front or four-wheel drive and a differential lock for mud-plugging – the Outlander gives you plenty of options, too.

Other than traction and stability con­trol, though, it has no Land Rover-style electronic aids such as Ter­rain Res­ponse. Wet, grassy slopes rather than rough ground will be this vehicle’s forte.

There’s only one engine option for the UK: a 138bhp 2.0-litre turbodiesel. Linked to a six-speed manual gearbox, it’s torquey and provides gutsy performance. A 2.4-litre petrol unit, with an automatic gearbox, is due in 2008.

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