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Mitsubishi Outlander 2018 review: ES seven seat

Nedahl Stelio
Family reviewer

4 Jun 2018 • 13 min read

The Mitsubishi Outlander ES is a five seater SUV, but masquerades as a seven seater when the going gets tight. It gives you an extra two seats in the back when you really need them. You might have to cart other people's kids' around (always a joy), or the grandparents (though I wouldn't make them get into the back in this car), or you might have regular overseas visitors.

Whichever way you look at it, those two spare seats are HANDY. Even if it's just in your head and you never actually use them, just knowing they're there is next-level peace-of-mind. The clincher here is the price.

This five-seater-cross-seven-seater-SUV comes in at around $30,000. For a cross-breed-five-to-seven-seater. You heard correctly. It's the price that is the winner here for budgeting families.

I test drove it for a week with my family of four, and while I didn't need those two extra seats, the kids sure loved riding in the back for novelty value. Here's how it performed.

How does it drive?

It's not an out-of-body amazing experience but is honestly perfectly fine. There's a 2.4litre engine so you know you've got enough power to get around on long trips and easily up steep hills. It's no Michael Buble but it's smooth enough on the road. The handling is good and the steering is light - often in bigger cars I find turning the wheel an arm workout but not in this Outlander.

I'm high off the road which makes me feel safe around the other cars, because it is a sizeable vehicle. It's a front-wheel drive so you won't be able to take it off-road, but as I drove it only on tarmac, I haven't had any issues with traction (I did not test it on gravel or dirt).

Driving it isn't an out-of-body amazing experience but is honestly perfectly fine. (image: Dean McCartney) Driving it isn't an out-of-body amazing experience but is honestly perfectly fine. (image: Dean McCartney)

Because it's not as long as a full-time seven seater, this one has a good turning circle of 10.6m. Looking for a park on the school run the other day, I was trying to hurriedly get a park on the other side of the road and I actually made the u-turn - I didn't have to do a three-point turn - and I got the park! So the smaller turning circle comes in handy.

The bottom line is: you're not going to rave about the way this car drives. But look at the price and that explains everything.

The bottom line is: you're not going to rave about the way this car drives. (image: Dean McCartney) The bottom line is: you're not going to rave about the way this car drives. (image: Dean McCartney)

How spacious is it?

Let's go straight to the two seats at the back because that is why you're looking at this particular model. There is not a great deal of room. You can, however, slide the second row forward a little to give you more space which is very helpful.

Kids will be fine to sit in the back but I wouldn't love putting them there over long distances because there are no air vents in the third row (or even the second row, so there's not much airflow through the vehicle). The Outlander's dimensions stay the same whether you opt for five seats or seven, which is why the back row is tight.

The second row has a good amount of space and this is the area the children will get the most use out of. (image: Dean McCartney) The second row has a good amount of space and this is the area the children will get the most use out of. (image: Dean McCartney)

Still, for short trips while driving the kids to footy or netball, you can easily pick up a friend or two on the way. Same with transporting grandparents around (please do give them the middle row!) or regular visitors.

The second row has a good amount of space and this is the area the children will get the most use out of anyway. My two girls aged four and six were perfectly happy and comfortable in there (though they will take any opportunity to climb into the back row when we have one!).

The Outlander's dimensions stay the same whether you opt for five seats or seven, which is why the back row is tight. (image: Dean McCartney) The Outlander's dimensions stay the same whether you opt for five seats or seven, which is why the back row is tight. (image: Dean McCartney)

And the front seats were plenty spacious enough, even with my 185cm husband's very relaxed driving position and the kids' carseats in the second row.

The boot is big enough when the last two seats are down. It comes in at 477 litres when the car is functioning as a five seater, which is comparable to other five seaters like the Mazda CX-5. You can easily fit a pram and groceries. When the last two seats are in use, that size shrinks to 128 litres - small, but it's also similar to other seven seaters, there are very few cars with a big boot space when you pop those two seats up.

If you only need six seats, leave one seat down to give you extra boot space, and also extra space to the person sitting in the sixth seat!

It comes in at 477 litres when the car is functioning as a five seater. (image: Dean McCartney) It comes in at 477 litres when the car is functioning as a five seater. (image: Dean McCartney)

What does it look like?

Are you driving this car for its looks? Didn't think so. But even though it's not particularly a looker, it's still rugged and tough - two words I like to associate with cars when driving my children around. So it's functional.

  • I found the Outlander fairly practical - it's one of those cars that has all the basics. (image: Dean McCartney) I found the Outlander fairly practical - it's one of those cars that has all the basics. (image: Dean McCartney)
  • Are you driving this car for its looks? Didn't think so. (image: Dean McCartney) Are you driving this car for its looks? Didn't think so. (image: Dean McCartney)
  • Even though it's not particularly a looker, it's still rugged and tough. (image: Dean McCartney) Even though it's not particularly a looker, it's still rugged and tough. (image: Dean McCartney)

Inside is not bad at all. The seats are fabric, yes, but they're not a nasty, cheap fabric. They're comfortable and fine to sit on, even for long trips. The steering wheel is leather but it doesn't feel it, so they have budgeted there. And while the dash is a bit plasticky looking, they've lifted the whole area with a high gloss black finish around the multi-media screen, bringing a little luxury into an otherwise unremarkable interior.

It's more than some of their competitors have done and again, if you think about the price it all makes sense. It's actually better than I would expect for this price.

  • The front seats were plenty spacious enough. (image: Dean McCartney) The front seats were plenty spacious enough. (image: Dean McCartney)
  • The steering wheel is leather but it doesn't feel it, so they have budgeted there. (image: Dean McCartney) The steering wheel is leather but it doesn't feel it, so they have budgeted there. (image: Dean McCartney)

How easy is it to use every day?

I found the Outlander fairly practical - it's one of those cars that has all the basics. No extras, but you're not paying for them, so don't expect them.

It's a good height and my kids could easily climb in and out of the car by themselves, something I really appreciate. The boot is a good height off the ground so you don't have to hoist groceries too high to get them out.

It's a front-wheel drive so you won't be able to take it off-road. (image: Dean McCartney) It's a front-wheel drive so you won't be able to take it off-road. (image: Dean McCartney)

There are two cupholders in the front, two in the second row on a pull-down armrest and two in the back row on the right-hand side. There's a centre storage bin which is a decent size, and a glove box, but that's it. No more storage around the centre gearshift which is odd because there are empty spots there where a small storage spot for wallets or phones would come in handy. They're probably in models higher up the food chain.

The second row is lacking air vents which I found odd because no rear air vents in a mid-sized SUV is a poor offering, but this car also has a third row, and I'm not sure how they are meant to get any airflow back there besides the old fashioned way - opening the windows! A novelty, to be sure.

It's a good height and my kids could easily climb in and out of the car by themselves. (image: Dean McCartney) It's a good height and my kids could easily climb in and out of the car by themselves. (image: Dean McCartney)

How safe is it?

The Outlander ES has airbags to cover the driver and front passenger, plus side curtain airbags to cover the second row but no airbags covering the third row (which child are you going to put in there?). The thing is surprisingly, this is not unusual. Hyundai's Sante Fe and Kia's Sorento don't have airbags covering the third row (Note: those two cars cost a fair chunk more than the Outlander ES, at least the Outlander ES has the price excuse).

It comes with two ISOFIX points and three top tethers all in the second row for children's carseats. To get newer safety technology like Auto Emergency Braking, blind spot monitoring, lane departure warnings etc, you will have to go up to higher-priced models (the Outlander goes all the way up to around $47k)

What's the tech like?

Mitsubishi has included Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard across the range, starting with this base ES model, which is great value. It means you can plug your phone in and be instantly connected to important apps through the 7.0-inch multimedia touchscreen. Not Instagram of course, but things like Spotify and maps. No more relying on the car company's sat nav.

The sound in the stereo isn't bad either. It's no Range Rover, but it's not nasty. It's clear and you can turn it up to a decent level without it distorting.

What does it cost to run?

The Mitsubishi Outlander ES comes in at $30,900. I drove one with metallic paint which was an extra $590, worth it for the Dorothy-red-shoes-effect. Fuel consumption is average for a five seater at 7.2 litres per 100kms, but great for a seven seater.

It comes with Mitsubishi's five-year/100,000km warranty.

There's a 2.4 litre engine so you know you've got enough power to get around on long trips and easily up steep hills. (image: Dean McCartney) There's a 2.4 litre engine so you know you've got enough power to get around on long trips and easily up steep hills. (image: Dean McCartney)


The Wrap

I was honestly quite surprised you could get all this and a spare two seats for around $30,000. It's a decent enough car to drive, there's a good amount of space for five people (seven when you need the room), it looks good and is a practical SUV. It has all the basics covered. Sure, there are no fancy bells and whistles but if this is your price range, this is a solid bet.

I gave it a family rating of 7 out of 10 because I reckon it's really good value for money. My kids gave it 7.5! They love having two extra seats to drive their friends around.

Likes

Value for money
Small turning circle

Dislikes

Budget in some design aspects
No advanced safety features
No air vents for rear passengers

Scores

Nedahl:

3.5

The Kids:

3.8

$24,380 - $31,488

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