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Mitsubishi Outlander 2020 review

The Outlander serves up pleasant, no-frills transport.

The Mitsubishi Outlander has been kicking around dealerships now for the better part of a decade, and it will most likely reach the full 10 years before it's meaningfully replaced. The 2012 "original" was a very different-looking car when it landed, with Mitsubishi piling on update after update to keep up with its competitors.

It might be old, but let's face it, it's also pretty cheap - the Outlander also holds the distinction as the cheapest mid-size SUV to pack a plug-in hybrid option, delivering a scarcely believable 1.7L/100km on the combined cycle. You also have the option of petrol-only power and a grunty turbo-diesel as well five- or seven-seat options to suit your budget.

But all that sparkles is not gold, so good thing there's more than a spangly face and on-paper features to the Outlander.

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✅ What do we love about the Mitsubishi Outlander?

It's very cheap for what you get. Part of the reason for that is Mitsubishi hasn't spent much money on developing the car over the years because customers keep buying them and there's little need to go bananas with the stuff its pricier competitors have.

And with the departure of Holden (run-out specials aside), the Outlander cements itself as the cheapest seven-seater of this size on the market.

The Outlander also scores well on paper for things like Apple CarPlay, LED headlights, big wheels and other niceties that make it look a bit more compelling than the price tag suggests.

And, of course, there's the absurdly cheap plug-in hybrid (PHEV) versions, starting at $47,390 and offering real electric-only driving.

The Outlander is a bit more city-friendly than most large SUVs. The Outlander is a bit more city-friendly than most large SUVs.

Another thing we quite like about it is that it's a bit more city-friendly than most large SUVs. With a fairly narrow footprint, it's easier to deal with narrow streets and it's far less imposing than a Kluger or even a CX-9. There are, of course, trade-offs for this, but we'll touch on those shortly.

It also has some of the nicest paddle-shifters of any car on the market today. You have to be in some serious machinery from Italy before the lovely aluminium shifters are matched, let alone exceeded.

✅ What do we dislike?

Look, let's not sugar coat this - the Outlander is an old car and the big Mitsubishi can be a little light-on for features here and there.

Like its smash-hit ASX sibling, it's made to look better than it really is. It's not a bad car - few are - but there seems to be a distinct "that'll do" attitude applied to some of the interior fittings and material choices. My wife always says it's the kind of car you can own and not feel guilty about trashing.

To get all of the safety gear you need you'll want to plump for the Exceed, which starts at $43,690, $14,000 more than the manual ES (which doesn't even have AEB as standard, if you can believe it).

It's also a fairly tedious car to drive. Not outright bad, but the steering is vague and despite having an expensive-to-build multi-link rear suspension, it's not particularly accomplished at riding or handling with any real flair. Like the ASX, it wanders around on the road and doesn't handle bumps very well, however it does a better job than its smaller sibling. 

All of this is made worse by a series of indifferent petrol engines hooked up to a pretty ordinary continuously variable transmission that blights many a Mitsubishi. The six-speed auto in the diesel is a much better gearbox, and the single-speeder in the PHEV is different again.

And while it's narrower and shorter than its rivals - making it an easier car to manoeuvre around town - that does mean it's a pinch to put three across the rear seats, and the third row (where fitted) is also very tight. There is no magic packaging in here.

✅ How much storage space does the Outlander have?

The Outlander's luggage capacity starts at 128 litres if you have the third row of seats in place. The boot space dimensions are good, with little intrusion from the wheelarches and a wide loading lip. There aren't any rails for attaching luggage systems, though, which is a shame.

  • With the back row in use, the boot is quite small at 128L. With the back row in use, the boot is quite small at 128L.
  • With the back row down, the boot opens up nicely, but it’s not the largest in this category. Still, you’ll easily get a double pram in the boot or sporting equipment and at 477L it’s enough for a family of four. With the back row down, the boot opens up nicely, but it’s not the largest in this category. Still, you’ll easily get a double pram in the boot or sporting equipment and at 477L it’s enough for a family of four.

A cargo cover is standard and leaves a decent-sized space when in place. If you want further capacity, the boot space with just the middle row in place is a mid-size SUV-sized 477 litres. With all seats down, you have a reasonable 1608 litres. For yet more volume, grab yourself a roof rack set from Mitsubishi or numerous aftermarket catalogues, and get yourself a boot liner if things are going to get muddy.

✅ How much can a Mitsubishi Outlander tow?

Towing capacity obviously depends on the fitment of a tow bar, which Mitsubishi will do for you. Having reviewed my notes for past stories, it's a complicated story.

Towing capacity depends on the fitment of a tow bar. Towing capacity depends on the fitment of a tow bar.

The base model manual ES will tow 1600kg braked and 735kg unbraked with a maximum towball load of 160kg. The CVT-equipped 2.4-litre engined cars will tow the same 1600kg braked but 750kg unbraked.

Moving to the diesel, you can drag 2000kg braked and 750kg unbraked, with a higher towball load of 200kg.

If you go for the PHEV, ratings drop to 1500kg braked and 750kg unbraked, with a towball load of 150kg.

✅ What colours is the Mitsubishi Outlander available in?

Most of the range is available in black, Titanium (grey), Ironbark (okay, brown), Red Diamond, Sterling Silver, Starlight (pearlescent white) and a solid white.

2020 Mitsubishi Outlander LS in Titanium. 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander LS in Titanium.

The Black Edition is available only in Starlight, Diamond Red, Titanium and black.

Weirdly, there is no blue or green option. You'll not find orange, gold, yellow or, uh, purple on the colour list either.

Extremely annoying is the $740 charge Mitsubishi tries to stick you for any colour other than white. Every other hue is $740 except for the lurid red, which is $940. If your dealer insists on charging you for this, they're making a mug of you.

✅ Are there any must-have accessories?

Being a top-selling SUV in Australia, there are accessories galore. Like the not-free colours, you should insist on floor mats rather than pay $134 for them. A dealer might offer you a choice of aftermarket rims, but the 18s all Outlander trim levels roll on are perfectly fine.

You can get all sorts of barriers and guards, a towbar, roof pod and various sporting equipment carriers.

For the interior you can get rubber mats, neoprene seat covers, illuminated scuff plates and various lighting and trim options. The aluminium gearshift knob looks vaguely ridiculous but is almost reasonably priced at $96.

There is no official Mitsubishi seat belt extender, so you'll have to go aftermarket for that.

✅ How does the Outlander interior look & feel?

As with the exterior, the Outlander's cabin has had plenty of upgrades over the years, some more successful than others. The basic cloth interior is hardy and absolutely spot-on for the kind of knockabout family car duties I reckon the Outlander does best. Trimmed in hard, sometimes scratchy plastics, it all fits together a bit better than other Mitsubishis and probably should after all this time. 

There is no rhyme or reason to the switchgear, though - if it works, it stays and so it's a bit of a jumble of old and new, something even Toyota has stopped doing.

  • 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander LS. 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander LS.
  • 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander LS. 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander LS.
  • 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander Exceed. 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander Exceed.
  • 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander Exceed. 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander Exceed.
  • 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander Exceed. 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander Exceed.
  • 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV. 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV.

The older cars' leather interior was a bit iffy because the leather may as well have been vinyl, but Mitsubishi has discovered a rather nice artifical suede which it uses on the upper models and it's far more agreeable.

A new touch screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto arrived a couple of updates ago and looks quite well-integrated with the cabin's ageing architecture.

You get cup holders in the front and middle rows, but rear seat dwellers have to hold their own drinks. To be fair, there just isn't the room, the car is too narrow for Mazda or Toyota-style mouldings.

You're out of luck if you want a panoramic sunroof, too - the Outlander's head-burner is a fairly traditional rectangle over the front row.

✅ What are the key specs for the Outlander engine?

There are four engine specs available in the Outlander.

The base model ES manual has a 2.0-litre petrol motor that gives way to a 2.4-litre in the CVT-equipped models.

The 2.0-litres ratings are, obviously, the lowest, with just 110kW and a measly 190Nm of torque to drag the car along. And a five-speed manual that only feeds power to the front wheels.

  • The Outlander Exceed in the diesel AWD has a 2.4L diesel engine. The Outlander Exceed in the diesel AWD has a 2.4L diesel engine.
  • 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander LS (petrol). 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander LS (petrol).

Moving up to the 2.4 available across the rest of the range, you get 124kW and 220Nm, which still isn't very much, but the CVT does its best to keep it roaring away at its peak power figures.

The 2.2-litre turbo-diesel is the best of the fossil-fuel lot, with 110kW and 360Nm. Neither of those figures is especially competitive, but the six-speed auto does a much better job of picking ratios and is actually quite smooth.

The size of the PHEV's petrol motor drops back to the 2.0-litre and the ICE engine's power plunges to 87kW and 186Nm. Along for the ride, however, are two 30kW electric motors to bring a combined output of 120kW and 332Nm. The hybrids are all-wheel drive only and use a single speed transmission to drive the wheels.

There is no supercharger version, but I reckon strapping one to the weedy 2.0-litre would be hilarious.

✅ What is the Mitsubishi Outlander's fuel consumption?

Fuel mileage varies wildly across the range, and from the official figures too. The cars equipped with Eco mode aren't improved by it and it's so frustrating for all but the slowest driveres, it's not worthwhile.

Petrol consumption in the 2.0-litre ES is pegged at 7.0L/100km for the manual I have never driven so can't give you a real world figure. I can give you one for the 2.4-litre, with an official figure of 7.2L/100km in AWD or 2WD guise. But I've never seen better than 11.2L/100km in a mix of highway and suburban running.

The 2.2 diesel fuel consumption figure is listed at 6.2L/100km. The last time I had a diesel, I saw almost double that figure in a mix of highway and suburban running, with and indicated 12.3L/100km. That's genuinely poor when much larger turbo-diesels from other manufacturers do far better.

If you count fuel consumption km l, the hybrid is for you. The official figure of 1.7L/100km is a fairytale borne of the testing regime. Reality is closer to 5.0L/100km, or 20km/l.

✅ What features come standard with the Outlander?

Standard features in the ES include 18-inch rims, a six-speaker sound system, reversing camera, central locking with automatic door lock, climate control air conditioner, cruise control, leather gearshift and steering wheel, power mirrors, cloth trim and a full-size spare tyre. When you go for the PHEV, you also pick up reverse parking sensors to soften the extra cost.

18-inch rims come standard. 18-inch rims come standard.

Things are a bit less complicated in the LS range. The front wheel drive LS adds the ADAS package, auto headlights and wipers, park assist features, partial leather interior with micro-suede inserts, keyless entry and push button start with smart key, electric front seats, heated and folding power mirrors, electric parking brake and an electrochroamatic rear-vision mirror.

The Exceed adds sunroof, full-leather interior, front and side cameras, front and rear parking sensors, LED headlights, daytime running lights, rear privacy glass, power tailgate (a very useful convenience feature), rear spoiler, lane assist and rear cross-traffic alert. You do, however, lose the spare tyre

A Black edition - based on the ES - is a sort of pretend sport edition, but it really isn't. A classic stickers and spoilers job. Like the rest of the range, there is no diff lock.

Only the Outlander Exceed features a GPS sat nav system, with all other variants missing out, expecting you to plug in your smartphone. That's how they make them cheap.

✅ What features can you upgrade?

There are a number of things you can add to your Outlander. Things like a bull bar, nudge bar, snorkel, rear seat entertainment system, winch, side steps, a body kit and bigger rear spoiler are the preserve of aftermarket offerings.

An automatic door lock is already part of the package, the car locking itself as you get moving. The onboard trip computer is perfectly fine, but an OBD port-based add-on is also an aftermarket option for you.

Best of British luck getting a heated steering wheel, that sort of thing requires a lot of work and would mean replacing the steering wheel with one from a car not sold in this market.

All Outlanders have 18 inch alloy wheels and it's possible your dealer will offer different designs. You might even get underbody protection and side skirts from enterprising dealers.

The Exceed trim level is the closest thing to a luxury pack.

✅ Is the Mitsubishi Outlander 4wd and can you use it off-road?

All wheel drive is available in all trim levels of the Outlander. While this isn't an off road review, its mud-plugging capability is respectable enough. The standard tyres are not off road tyres or all terrain tyres, but you can obviously fit those yourself after you buy it.

The front-wheel-drive ES is the only 4x2 in the range and is probably not the one for camping shenanigans.

All wheel drive is available in all trim levels of the Outlander. All wheel drive is available in all trim levels of the Outlander.

The Mitsubishi website does not specify a wading depth but a quick spin around the internet suggests it's a very modest 400mm.

✅ What is the Outlander's ground clearance?

The Outlander's unladen ground clearance is also modest, at 190mm. If you need more, plenty of lift kit mods are available at your local off-road specialist.

✅ Is the Mitsubishi Outlander a plug-in hybrid?

You can buy the Outlander as a PHEV in ES, LS and Exceed. As plug-in hybrids go, the Outlander is a lot of car for the money. You can run in full EV mode for around 30km.

✅ Does the Outlander come in diesel?

The Outlander comes with a 2.2-litre turbo-diesel to go with the 2.0-litre and 2.4-litre petrol engines. 

The diesel engine, with its six-speed automatic gearbox, is available in LS and Exceed trim levels for $40,690 and $47,190 respectively.

The diesel Exceed is $47,190. The diesel Exceed is $47,190.

There is no LPG version, but the PHEV is a much better idea anyway.

✅ What are the dimensions of the Outlander?

As I've already mentioned, the Outlander's dimensions are on the small side when compared to most other seven-seat SUVS. Its smaller size - at 4695mm long and 1810mm wide - make it an easier proposition in the city than larger machines from Mazda and Toyota, as well as its stablemate, the gigantic Pajero Sport.

The Outlander is 4695mm long and 1810mm wide. The Outlander is 4695mm long and 1810mm wide.

When compared to those other cars, its interior dimensions are necessarily smaller, meaning a more snug fit, but seven seats is seven seats.

The Outlander's weight is also lower than most of its rivals, by almost half a ton in some cases.

✅ Which configuration of the Mitsubishi Outlander is the best?

Well, obviously that's a tricky question. There are 15 distinct models in the 2020 range, which is a lot. There's an obvious choice when you look at the 2.0-litre vs 2.4-litre engines, the former can safely be ignored.

After that, the best one for you is the one that fits your requirements. Long range and towing capacity goes to the diesel. Cheap and cheerful seven-seat transport goes to the ES ADAS with its extra safety gear.

For silent, zero-tailpipe emissions for the short daily commute, the PHEV is the one to go for.

CarsGuide regularly does a full model comparison for the Outlander, the last one was from me late last year.

✅ How many seats does the Outlander have?

You can choose between five and seven models in the Outlander range. A five-seater bargain-basement ES and the PHEV models go without the third row seating. The ES for cost reasons, the PHEV because the batteries have to go somewhere.

Leather is available on some models, sometimes mixed with an excellent sytnethic suede.

✅ Does the Outlander have any common problems, issues or faults?

As the Outlander is quite old, that means we have plenty of data to go through. A swing through the usual internet forums suggests few common problems or defects. It's a fairly reliable machine. Mitsubishi covers you for rust under a separate body warranty.

Any engine you choose, even the PHEV, has been around for a while, so any dramas have been largely ironed out. Turbo-diesel problems or automatic transmission problems seem rare and the only suspension problem I ever heard of was a botched aftermarket application.

So few Outlanders sold in Australia even have a clutch, so there aren't many mentions of the clutch apart from the overly-light pedal action.

You can read about any known problems on our Mitsubishi problems page here.

✅ How much does the Outlander cost to service?

Mitsubishi offers capped price servicing to control your annual service cost. The petrol models are covered for three years/45,000km, with each service weighing in at $199.

The maintenance cost differs on the diesel and PHEV models. Both are covered for the same period and the three services cost $299 each. 

Each model has the same service interval of 12 months or 15,000km.

✅ Are Mitsubishi Outlanders reliable?

It would appear that the Outlander's reliability rating is pretty good. I'm yet to hear of or see any particular problems that Mitsubishi needs to address, and that includes the PHEV battery pack.

Being around for a long time means the bugs have been ironed out, generally speaking, the exception that proves the rule being Holden's thankfully deceased Captiva.

✅ Does the Outlander have a manual or automatic transmission?

Just one Outlander has a five-speed manual transmission, the entry-level ES five-seater. The rest are either CVT automatics or, in the case of the PHEV, a single-speed electric.

✅ Does the Outlander have Apple CarPlay & Andriod Auto?

One of the great things about the Outlander is that each model has Android Auto and, for iPhone users, Apple CarPlay. They all have bluetooth connectivity as well if you've lost your USB cable, but you have to use the media software.

Each model has Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Each model has Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

✅ How good is the Outlander's sound system & Infotainment set-up?

The Mitsubishi multimedia infotainment system is passable. Each Outlander has six speakers with DAB radio,

There is no CD player, subwoofer or DVD player. You might be able to fit your own radio CD player combo and if you're really into sick beats, I'm sure you can find an outlet to add some more bass.

✅ What is the Outlander's fuel tank size?

Fuel capacity is 63 litres for front-wheel-drive cars, 60 litres for most AWDs and 45 litres for the PHEV. The PHEV's smaller fuel tank size is due to the batteries, but isn't a big deal when you're driving around, even if there's not enough juice for full EV running, the electric motors are doing the driving to keep fuel use to a minimum.

✅ Does the Outlander have a timing belt or chain?

All of the Outlander engines feature a timing chain, which bodes well for reliability and long-term cost of ownership.

✅ Is the Outlander a safe car?

The Outlander's safety rating of five ANCAP stars dates back to 2014 and you should consider that in the light of the many rule changes since then.

Standard safety features across the range include seven airbags, ABS, stability and traction controls and a reversing camera.

Optional on the ES and standard on LS and Excceed is the ADAS package, which adds reverse parking sensors, forward AEB, lane departure warning, active cruise and auto high-beam.

The top-spec Exceed also has lane change warning, lane change assist, around-view camera, reverse cross-traffic alert and blind spot warning.

✅ Does the Outlander have Isofix points?

Only the second row includes anchors for a baby seat, with two ISOFIX points and three top tether child seat anchor points.

✅ How many years and km's does the warranty last?

Mitsubishi's new car warranty extends for five years/100,000km which is competitive, but not the best. 

✅ How fast is the outlander?

None of the Outlanders feature startling 0 100 acceleration figures. The quickest is the PHEV at 10.5 seconds, the rest 11 seconds for 2.4-litre cars and slower again for the 2.0 litre.

If it's speed you're after, this is probably not the SUV for you. If it's speed you're after, this is probably not the SUV for you.

If it's speed you're after, this is probably not the SUV for you.

✅ Where is the Mitsubishi Outlander made?

The Outlander is made in Japan.

✅ How does the Outlander feel to drive?

The Outlander wasn't exactly a high-performance entrant in 2012 and it still isn't. While it isn't the biggest or heaviest seven-seat SUV on the market, it's also among the least powerful.

The petrol engines are low on both power and torque and struggle with the CVT to make sense of the inputs from your right foot if they're urgent. The transmission also flares when you lift off, but there's so little power available, it's not as startling as a turbo Subaru.

Once you've got the Outlander moving and you're not asking anything of the engine and transmission, the car settles down quite nicely. Road noise is well-damped and it begins to feel far more refined than it does in the city.

As long as the road surface stays reasonably smooth, the ride is good. As long as the road surface stays reasonably smooth, the ride is good.

As long as the road surface stays reasonably smooth, the ride is good, too. But as soon as you're on less well-maintained surfaces, the ride gets a bit crashy. The steering, as I've already mentioned, is quite vague and you won't have the first clue what's going on under then front wheels. That doesn't bother a lot of people, but it's the kind of thing you'll notice, even on your short bumble around the block with a dealer.

The diesel is a far better car than either of the petrols, partly down its far stronger torque figure but it also scores a proper six-speed transmission. It still has the same steering and chassis feel though.

The best of the Outlanders is the PHEV. The novelty value of being able to waft around in near-silence having just unplugged from the mains never gets old, and the initial kick from electric motor is enough to keep you awake. It's a pity there's a novelty gear selector which looks amazingly cheap and silly, a weird juxtaposition to the rather accomplished powertrain.

✅ Is the Mitsubishi Outlander a good car?

The Outlander is not a bad car, but it's also not a particularly good one. Almost nobody buys the worst one, the manual ES, and that's largely because a stern look at a Mitsubishi dealer earns you a huge price cut on the CVT ES with the larger engine.

Even if you can't stretch to the diesel, or even better, the PHEV, there are good reasons to buy an Outlander - it's cheap, is reasonably well-equipped, doesn't look cheap anymore and is a damn sight roomier than mid-size SUVs of the same price. It's just a pity it's so thirsty.

And as my wife shrewdly pointed out, it's not a car you will ever feel bad about bashing around in. The honesty of its presentation means you've bought it with your head. The ownership proposition is solid, things tend not to fall off and there's a ton of them around, which suggests they do what it says on the tin.


The Wrap

We're talking honest, down-to-Earth transport here, and a car that has stood the test of time on the reliability front. Sure, you won't turn a lot of heads, but you also won't spend your life at the dealership for repairs, either. Besides, it's not only one of the cheapest ways to move seven people, but also one of the most affordable plug-in hybrids on the market. 

Likes

Cheap PHEV
Good space
Cheap to own

Dislikes

Thirsty
Feels very old
Safety gear incomplete

Scores

Peter:

3.5

The Kids:

3.5

$33,990

Based on new car retail price

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