The Japanese brand has brought its answer to the Toyota RAV4 and Mazda CX-5 to Australia, and it has one feature that trumps them.
Mitsubishi’s updated Outlander seven-seat SUV arrived last November, strong on specification, safety and ownership experience.
Larger and better equipped there are price rises to match, but the value proposition remains strong. Our family tested the near range-topping Exceed AWD grade.
Iain: Send it back. It needs more chrome and LED lights on the front.
Jules: Very funny. The Outlander’s face is very much in your face.
Iain: But not dull. Well, except the back end. It’s the calm remedy to the hyper-bold nose.
Jules: Well, I like it. A really good size too, is it a seven-seater?
Iain: A five-plus-two more accurately. It’s a medium/large SUV with five normal seats and two emergency ones. They’re not for grown-ups.
Jules: How much?
Iain: Our loaded Outlander Exceed is $51,490 drive-away. An Exceed Tourer is $2000 more thanks to high-grade leather massage seats.
Jules: What about cheaper versions?
Iain: For around $40,000 you can drive away an ES. The range is vast, including 2WD and five-seat versions. All use the same 2.5-litre petrol engine; no diesel to be found. Prices are a few thousand over old models.
Jules: What about rivals?
Iain: The Toyota RAV4, Subaru Forester, Mazda CX-5 or Hyundai Tucson, but these only have five seats. Nissan’s X-Trail is a rival also sporting two emergency seats.
THE LIVING SPACE
Jules: A mum likes to be spoiled, and it’s a bit flash in here.
Iain: It’s hard to fault the goodies. A panoramic roof, diamond-pattern leather seats and trim, electric heated seats, digital instrument cluster, Bose audio and wireless phone charging with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Jules: Loaded. A good sense of space too, helped by its glass roof. It feels a big SUV in here.
Iain: But compared to the outrageous exterior design, the cabin’s bland. The touch points are nice and soft, but Mitsubishi’s played it too safe I reckon.
Jules: There’s no pleasing you. Look, the climate control is actioned with buttons and dials, not through the touchscreen as I know you hate.
Iain: True. But the dashboard lacks any flair and when you dig deeper some of the plastics feel cheap. There’s an optional light grey interior; I’d pick this to break up the abundance of black material.
Jules: It’s simple to drive and not too big in town. Unlike some SUVs the engine and gearbox respond rapidly from standstill, but it’s not a quick car.
Iain: I’m afraid, for me, it’s like most Mitsubishis: devoid of driving enjoyment.
Iain: For a brand-new petrol engine, 2.5-litres of non-turbo four-cylinder with only 135kW feels very last decade. Its CVT auto gearbox isn’t bad but adds no joy to the piece.
Jules: That’s why they give drivers like you paddle shifters so you can play being racing driver in your family SUV.
Iain: I just pine for a bit of involvement and soul. The paddle shift gives you Sport mode, but it felt sporty like Donald Trump in a pair of running shoes.
Jules: The car’s fit for purpose. It’s comfortable, there’s radar cruise control and helpful things like a head-up display showing your speed and traffic sign recognition.
Iain: It’s certainly a comfy cruiser, but on 20-inch wheels it’s a bit crashy on poor urban roads. I bet lesser grades on 18-inch wheels ride better.
Jules: I never had a problem with the ride. It’s a likeable, light-filled SUV that feels cutting edge with sat nav through the digital instrument cluster.
Jules: Boot’s a big ‘un and the tailgate opens with a foot swipe under the bumper. Love that.
Iain: The boot isn’t as big as a Toyota RAV4’s or Mazda CX-5’s. 360-degree cameras are becoming more prevalent, and the Outlander’s is a good one to see every corner of the car when parking. Ideal for tight spots.
Jules: A family road trip please. I’d be happy on highway or hilltop.
Iain: The engine may not add much joy, but the big Outlander’s handling impresses should you aim for hilltops. It has exciting-sounding Super All-Wheel Control, adjusting the 4WD system to suit the road surface.
Jules: Are your Mitsubishi rally dreams coming true?
Iain: It’s no Lancer Evo, but the system can brake each wheel independently if traction gets tough. On an unsealed road it even offered a bit of oversteer. Maybe this is Tommi Makinen’s daily drive these days?
Jules: Teenagers may have to look that one up.
Iain: Safety’s inclusions are excellent, especially automatically braking if you are about to reverse into something. Its lane keep systems got too annoying so I had to turn those off.
Jules: Agreed. Pleasingly, if you’d disabled lane keep and enabled heated seats on your last drive, these are saved when you next start the car.
Iain: Excellent legroom for adults in the middle row seats, but you need to slide these forward to give any sort of space for rear passengers. Again, these seats are like squeezing an adult in a shoebox.
Jules: Rear sun shades, air vents, temperature control and clever pockets for tablets and books won our kids over. They tried the third-row seats but even they found them challengingly small.
Iain: We returned a good 8.4L/100km fuel use while Mitsubishi ownership helps the budget. A ten-year warranty if you service with Mitsi is superb, while servicing for five years costs under $1000. Brilliant.
Jules: I’ve already seen loads of new Outlanders on the road and I now know why. A great value great looking SUV that’s hard to fault for inclusions, safety and luxury. I’m sold.
Iain: The styling is overkill and the drive experience sleep-inducing, but I see your point. It’s very good in most departments and loaded in Exceed grade, plus it won’t cost much to own. An impressive family SUV.