Mitsubishi has been a leader in affordable 4WDs in Australia for almost four decades, and has continued its expertise into the SUV market. Witness the completely revised Mitsubishi Outlander, with its many practical features.
Depending on your tastes and needs the 2013 Outlander can be anything from an affordable ($28,990) 2WD with a petrol engine, manual gearbox and five seats, to an upmarket seven-seat automatic turbo-diesel with the sort of bells-and-whistles generally only offered in top line European models for $50,990.
On-road costs have to be added, but these are very reasonable prices and in most cases are slightly down on the recommended retail of the outgoing models.
Pragmatism makes a lot of sense in today’s fragile vehicle market, so Mitsubishi has gone away from the radical shape of the previous Outlander, opting instead for a neat, elegant look that will gather buyers from a much wider group in automotive taste than the superseded model.
Inside, the all-new Mitsubishi Outlander continues the elegant look of the exterior. The materials are of high quality and the way they are installed is immaculate.
The front seats offer good space, the centre row has more legroom than you would expect in a car of this size and the third row of seats, not fitted to all models, is good for children, though adults can use it without being too cramped.
A full redesign of the centre-row seat means it now folds flat in a single motion to add to luggage space. Previously, the seat was tumble-folded in two stages, meaning that when it was down robbed the rear of some cargo length.
The new Outlander has achieved an ANCAP safety rating of five stars. Active Stability Control is standard across the range and can recognise understeer and oversteer, then applies braking force to the diagonal wheel to try and keep the Outlander on-line through corners. Reverse sensors aid the driver when reversing.
Mitsubishi Outlander is not only easier on the eye, but also easier on the air it cleaves through. Measurements show the co-efficient of drag has been reduced from 0.36 to 0.33 to cut fuel consumption and emissions, as well as interior noise generated by air rush past the body.
Fuel consumption has been trimmed by an impressive 22 per cent when averaged throughout the range. Aerodynamics play a big part, but the reductions in emissions is due not only to the sleeker body but also by extensive modifications to the engine, transmission suspension and steering.
Engines are 2.0-litre and 2.4-litre petrol and 2.2-litre turbo-diesel. Our first drive was in a 2.4-litre petrol. It has the advantage of a CVT to let it operate at its best revs and we enjoyed the performance, particularly the way it gets up to speed to minimise time on the wrong side of the road when overtaking.
The turbo-diesel is a quiet unit with plenty of grunt, and doesn’t work too badly with a conventional automatic transmission. We feel the grunt of the diesel will make it the engine of choice with many buyers.
Some may feel the 2.0 petrol is on small side for an SUV of this size. Our test car had a manual gearbox to let us select the gear we felt was best for the situation. Running light and in mildly hilly conditions it had decent performance that would suit most buyers and you get superb Japanese engineering and build quality at an attractive price.
Our initial 220-kilometre drive program organised by Mitsubishi out of Melbourne airport immediately showed the Outlander to be smooth, quiet and generally vibration free. Australia’s notorious coarse-chip road surfaces did create tyre roar on some models, others were fine.
We have heard worse on plenty of other cars and the fact that Japanese Mitsubishi engineers teamed with Australian guys to fine tune the suspension and steering in this country certainly helped. Handling is very good for a vehicle in this class and the new Outlander can corner safely at speeds well over those likely to be attempted by most owners.
The ride can be firm on some surfaces, especially in the models with the currently fashionable large-diameter wheels, but we feel most will find this compromise acceptable for the handling benefits it provides.
Mitsubishi Outlander has proven popular in Australia right from the start and this impressive new model seems certain to keep up that tradition.
Price: from $28,990-$45,490
Warranty: 5 years/130,000 km
Service interval: 12 months/15,000km
Crash rating: five stars
Safety: 7 airbags, ABS, TC, ESC, EBD, hill-start
Engine: 2.2L turbodiesel four-cylinder, 110kW/360Nm; 2.0L four-cylinder, 110kW/190Nm; 2.4L four-cylinder, 124kW/220Nm
Transmission: 5-speed manual (2.0L), CVT (2.0L, 2.4L), 6-speed auto (2.2L)
Dimensions: 4.66m (L), 1.8m (W), 1.68m (H)
Weight: 1395kg (2.0L manual), 1495kg (2.4L CVT), 1610kg (2.2L auto)
Thirst: 5.8L/100km, 153g/km CO2 (2.2); 6.6L/100km, (2.0 CVT), 7.5L/100km (2.4 CVT)