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Mitsubishi Outlander 2005 Review

Now a lot of them seem to drive around in SUVs. You see them on the school run, in supermarket car parks, on the way to a family weekend at the beach or laden with mountain bikes and heading for the Hills.

Part family station wagon, part off-roader, the so-called "softroader" offers an everyday driving experience with a hint of adventure.

Sit down with pencil and paper and it's easy to compile a list of 24 softroaders, not counting model variations. Nearly every major car company makes one or is designing one.

Of course, some softroaders are so soft you wouldn't dream of taking them down a winding bush track.

Not so Mitsubishi's Outlander. With a powered-up engine and rugged-build quality, it looks strong enough to clock up some serious kilometres. The new version addresses a major shortcoming of the previous model. With a genuine 120kW of power at 5750rpm and 220Nm of torque 4000rpm, the Outlander has charged back to the front row of the crowded SUV pack.

The 2.4-litre, SOHC, 16-valve four-cylinder motor has a couple of technological tricks up its sleeve.

The engine management system re-tunes the motor when the revs hit 3600rpm. Without getting too technical, what happens is that the valves are kept open longer, so the engine breathes in more fuel and air.

This provides more power for situations such as overtaking or towing a trailer up a hill.

Below 3600rpm, the engine goes back to its original state of tune, which means it uses less fuel. The engine also runs on standard unleaded petrol. Available as the base LS, higher-spec XLS (the vehicle on test) and top-of-the-range VR-X, the Outlander comes standard with a four-speed auto gearbox with sequential-shift option.

An on-board computer records the driver's operating style by observing typical engine revs, tyre load and braking. It then adapts the gearbox operation to suit, meaning the Outlander doesn't hunt through the box. Permanent four-wheel-drive runs through a centre differential with a Viscous Coupling Unit allocating torque in varying amounts to the wheels under cornering.

Much of the system has been developed by the World Rally Mitsubishi Lancer Evo range and, generally, it works well. However, several times I heard the tyres squeal slightly on sharp turns. It made me think I was about to lose traction. I wasn't. Perhaps it was a quirk of the car I was testing or its tyres.

Like many of its rivals, the Outlander doesn't have a low-ratio gearbox. This means it is compromised in offroad situations. While you can lock it up manually in first, it would be better to have a lower set of gears.

Softroaders, however, are designed more for the access track to that national park camping ground than fording streams or heading off over a bluff. The Outlander doesn't look particularly large but its upright body style gives the impression of a spacious interior. Rear seats can be folded flat and the headrest taken off the front passenger's seat to load objects as long as 2.4m.

The cabin is pleasant in an understated way, although I thought the gauge colours a bit lairy when backlit and the roof-rails look too big and clumsy.

Operated by a pedal, rather than a lever, the handbrake is an acquired taste. It does contribute to a more roomy cabin.

One important consideration for buyers is the suspension. Some softroaders float across bumps, which indicates they would struggle a bit loaded with the kids and camping gear.

The Outlander has a much firmer set-up. This suggests it would be a better weekend workhorse but you do pay a price. Drive it across the typical judder bars of a new housing estate and you feel every bump. Laden, the suspension feels more compliant.

Fit, finish, assembly and quality control all match the world-class standards expected and achieved by Mitsubishi.

Pricing guides

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Range and Specs

Activ 2.4L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO $2,700 – 4,620 2005 Mitsubishi Outlander 2005 Activ Pricing and Specs
LS 2.4L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO $2,600 – 4,510 2005 Mitsubishi Outlander 2005 LS Pricing and Specs
VR-X 2.4L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO $3,100 – 5,390 2005 Mitsubishi Outlander 2005 VR-X Pricing and Specs
XLS 2.4L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO $3,000 – 5,170 2005 Mitsubishi Outlander 2005 XLS Pricing and Specs
Disclaimer: The pricing information shown in the editorial content (Review Prices) is to be used as a guide only and is based on information provided to Carsguide Autotrader Media Solutions Pty Ltd (Carsguide) both by third party sources and the car manufacturer at the time of publication. The Review Prices were correct at the time of publication.  Carsguide does not warrant or represent that the information is accurate, reliable, complete, current or suitable for any particular purpose. You should not use or rely upon this information without conducting an independent assessment and valuation of the vehicle.