Mitsubishi ASX VS Mitsubishi Outlander
- Lots of space
- New nose looks better
- Apple CarPlay/Android Auto
- Buzzy pedals
- Lumpy ride in town
- Just about everything, actually
- Instantly familiar motoring
- Crucial tech update adds phone integration
- Mid-spec and up gets impressive safety kit
- Petrol engines lack punch
- Conventional automatic only available with diesel engine
- Design feels a little plasticky for our tastes
The world is chock-a-block with enduring mysteries. The Loch Ness Monster, people who consider Taylor Swift's anodyne pop 'classic' material and the eternal descent of global politics.
To that I will add (perhaps unkindly), the Mitsubishi ASX. It's old - very old - and competes in a market full of interesting, stylish and gadget-stacked offerings from other makers. Including, oddly enough, Mitsubishi's own Eclipse Cross.
Being the newest member of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, there's a massive toy box of stuff to pick from before hitting the go button on an ASX replacement. Or, as it turns out, another one.
Thing is, in Australia at least, the ASX doesn't need a replacement, it's walloping everything in its class. For 2020, the evergreen, ever-daggy ASX gets a(nother) facelift, a few spec tweaks and, one expects - nay, hopes - renewed vigour.
|Fuel Type||Regular Unleaded Petrol|
Andrew Chesterton road tests and reviews the new Mitsubishi Outlander with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.
In the booming and bustling world of mid-size SUVs, five years can be an eternity. But that's how long it's been since an all-new, or even majorly updated Mitsubishi Outlander arrived on our shores. Sure, there have been some style updates along the way, but it's been the same basic package since way back in 2012.
And age is beginning to hurt the Outlander, with Mitsubishi's go-to SUV finishing in sixth position in the 2016 sales race, miles behind the segment leaders (Mazda's CX-5 and Hyundai's Tucson), and neck-and-neck with Subaru's Forester.
So, the entire Outlander range has undergone a shake-up for 2017, with Mitsubishi adding technology and safety kit across the line-up. Sadly, it's also increased the costs, with list pricing climbing anywhere from $10 to a little over $1000.
So have the changes helped or hindered the Mitsubishi Outlander?
|Fuel Type||Regular Unleaded Petrol|
If I seem like I've been too hard on the manual ASX, you may well be right. It's really not my kind of car, but I know Mitsubishi can do better. What winds me up about it is that the company knows it doesn't have to, because the automatic ASX continues to fly off the forecourts.
Of course it doesn't in manual form and it's fairly easy to see why. It's not particularly cheap, doesn't have a lot of stuff (apart from a tonne of space) and I'd be surprised if dealers even mention its existence to shoppers.
If your heart is set on an ASX, skip the manual and use the saved energy to talk a dealer down the extra to get a CVT version. And there's a new mystery to add to the collection - I just recommended a CVT over a manual.
It might be a little old-school in places, but the injection of fresh technology and key safety equipment adds plenty of value to the Outlander range.
Has Mitsubishi done enough to the Outlander to tempt you away from a rival? Tell us what you think in the comments below.
The first ASX was a style-free zone. It had virtually no adornments. The styling was detectable only with a device with the sort of sensitivity that can detect an alien burping on a planet circling Alpha Centauri.
Did the job for a few years before another going-over made it look almost contemporary, but it stuck with the gawky profile.
This latest update puts a whole new, ill-fitting front end on the ASX but it looks a heck of a lot better. The 'Dynamic Shield' face from elsewhere in the range makes the car look fresh out of the box from the front, with Triton-esque slim headlights and a properly chunky look.
The new clamshell-style bonnet is nifty, or would be if the panel gaps weren't all over the place.
Then you see the side and rear and realise it's just the same old ASX with a bit of makeup on and new LED tail-lights that, to be completely fair, would look pretty good on any other car.
Amusingly, Mitsubishi has also slapped the Dynamic Shield on the Mirage - it really works on the ASX, it really doesn't on the tiddly hatch.
The cabin is the same old thing, with a natty new pattern on the seats that looks quite fetching, and a couple of new bits of trim here and there.
Ahead of the shifter is a piece of trim with an unexplained circular cut-out that is filled with the same patterned plastic. It really irrirates me and has been there for years, but at least the weird cupholder with a little sign that told you not to use as a cupholder is gone.
The Mitsubishi Outlander's exterior design might not push the envelope, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Instead, it's a simple, un-fussy body design with a bold and aggressive grille and 18-inch alloy wheels even from the entry level model.
It's diminutive for a potential seven seater, too, with the Outlander's dimensions measuring a sprightly 4695mm in length and 1810mm in width - shorter and thinner than other full-time seven seaters.
Inside, every interior option is clean and simple, and all feature the same 7.0-inch touchscreen taking centre stage in the middle of the dash. Deeper pockets will earn you leather wrapped seats and more technology options, but the basic elements remain the same: safe, uncluttered and easy to understand.
The one thing right about the Mitsubishi is the space (cue reverb effect).
For a compact SUV, it's huge inside. Front and rear passengers luxuriate in reasonably comfortable seats with plenty of head and legroom. Front and rear rows each have a pair of cupholders but only the front doors will hold a bottle.
Boot space is very generous, starting at 393 litres and with the rear seats out of the way, 1193 litres. If you end up choosing another ASX, be aware that the Exceed's fully-hectic sub-woofer is so fully hectic it swallows up 50 litres to deliver sick beats.
Your boot space and luggage capacity depend heavily on whether you've got five or seven seats, and on how many passengers you're carrying.
Boot space is pegged at 477 litres in five-seat models, though that number climbs to 1608 litres with the 60/40 rear seat folded flat.
The exterior dimensions don't change when you opt for a seven seat model, so cargo space is restricted to 128 litres. But as you can see in our interior photos the third row is split 50/50, so you can drop some or all of the seats to increase your luggage space to a maximum 1608 litres.
Price and features
One of the weirdest things about the ASX is that it's not very cheap, with one exception - the entry-level ES with the manual transmission, landing at $23,990. Or, more accurately, $24,990 drive-away at the time of writing.
I hold a deep suspicion that it won't take much arm-twisting to reduce the price considerably. In fact, a slightly stern look should do it.
The ES spec includes 18-inch alloys (where competitors will sling you steel wheels with hubcaps), a four-speaker stereo, climate control, reversing camera, remote central locking, cruise control, LED headlights, leather wheel and shifter, power folding rear vision mirrors and a space-saver spare. Slim, but useful pickings.
A new 8.0-inch screen sits proudly in a new-looking centre stack with DAB+, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The sound is pretty ordinary and the Mitsubishi software has a very 1980s Stranger Things feel about it, but the hardware is okay and works well with smart phones.
You get the distinct impression Mitsubishi has learnt what 'just enough' means for its buyers. That attitude permeates the whole car.
There are seven colours, one free (white), five for a puzzling $740 and one for a scandalous $940. For comparison, Mazda's (beautiful) premium colours are $300 and there are just two of them.
Deciphering the Mitsubishi Outlander model range is a little like unravelling The Da Vinci Code, with the engines, transmissions, even how many seats, changing across a single trim level.
The price range kicks off with the entry-level LS, which is offered in front-wheel drive (FWD), with five seats and a five-speed manual ($28,750). Opting for the continuously variable transmission (CVT) however, earns you two bonus seats, for seven in total ($30,500). Finally, the LS is also available with all-wheel drive (AWD), seven seats, a CVT and a bigger engine ($33,500).
Standard fare across the LS trim level includes an Apple Car Play/Android Auto-equipped 7.0-inch touchscreen multimedia unit that will pair with your iPhone, and also features a CD player and DAB digital radio. It can be controlled via the steering wheel buttons. The Bluetooth-equipped sound system is matched with six speakers.
You'll also find 18-inch alloys, cloth seats, dual-zone climate control (ac), a 12-volt charge point in the boot and a shark-fin antenna. You can also expect cruise control, power windows and keyless entry. Opt for the automatic version, however, and you'll add electric exterior mirrors, while choosing the AWD model adds an electric parking brake.
The Outlander range then steps up to the LS Safety Pack, available with a CVT only. The LS Safety Pack is available with five seats ($32,000), or you can opt for a bigger petrol engine and AWD (upping the cost to $35,000), or you can add two seats for seven in total ($36,000). Finally, the LS Safety Pack can be equipped with a diesel engine and a conventional torque converter six-speed automatic, along with seven seats ($39,500).
Standard fare across the LS Safety Pack line-up includes the same features as the LS, but adds forward collision warning with AEB, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control and auto high beams. You'll also add automatic windscreen wipers and headlights and an electrochromatic rearview mirror.
By comparison, the Outlander range tops out with the seven seat Exceed model, available in a CVT-equipped petrol version ($44,000) or a diesel model paired with a conventional automatic transmission ($47,500). Standard fare includes a sunroof, leather seats, push-button start and Mitsubishi's clever parking system that will slam on the brakes if it thinks you're going to have an accident while parking.
All models arrive with front and rear cup holders and room in the doors for bottles. Weirdly, there's no GPS sat nav anywhere in the line-up, but that's easily fixed using your phone's map system that will display on the screen.
There are seven colours on the Outlander's palette, including White, Starlight Pearl (a kind of beige) Cool Silver Metallic, Titanium Metallic (a grey), Black Pearl, Ironbark Metallic (brown) and Red. There's no blue, orange or green available.
The above are Mitsubishi's retail prices (or RRP), but you can and should haggle at multiple dealers to see how much wriggle room they can offer on the official price list.
Engine & trans
The dowdy 2.0-litre four-cylinder is unchanged (again) for 2020, with 110kW/197Nm. Those figures are class-competitive because as I always say, there appears to be legislation governing naturally aspirated compact SUV power outputs.
The basest of base specs has a five-speed manual gearbox (they're more common than you think, so I don't have a joke or exclamation of surprise here) driving the front wheels only.
No more all-wheel drive in the ASX, you have to go to the Eclipse Cross for that. Which is a pity, because the AWD ASX was almost compelling.
In terms of engine specs, the entry level Outlander LS is offered with a 2.0-litre petrol engine paired with a five-speed manual transmission or CVT, with power fed to the front wheels. The engine produces 110kW (147 horsepower) at 6000rpm and 190Nm from 4200rpm.
Stepping up to an AWD model (a light-duties, no low-range 4WD) requires a bigger engine size, with Mitsubishi's 2.4-litre petrol unit producing 124kW (166 horsepower) at 6000rpm and 220Nm at 4200rpm. The bigger engine will use a claimed/combined 7.2L/100km (expect that number to climb if you're heavy on the gas). Both petrol engines offer the same 1600kg towing capacity.
The sole diesel engine on offer is a 2.2-litre motor with output ratings of 110kW at 3500rpm and 360Nm from 1500rpm paired with a six-speed torque converter automatic. Fuel use is a claimed (combined cycle) 6.2L/100km, with towing specifications pegged at 2000kg - enough to shine in most towing reviews, but a long way off the 3500kg industry best. Diesel-equipped vehicles are 4-wheel drive only. There is no LPG model in the line-up, though the Outlander is also available in a yet to be updated hybrid model.
The Outlander range requires a 0W-20 oil type and oil capacity is pegged at at between 3.9 and 4.5 litres. Gross vehicle weight ranges from 1985kg to 2280kg. For common issues, including diesel problems, turbo problems, timing belt or chain issues, as well as transmission problems, please see our Mitsubishi Outlander problems page.
Mitsubishi's official fuel figure weighs in at 7.7L/100km which, as I have discovered in the past, is a long way off reality.
A week in the manual delivered an even worse figure than the CVT I last drove, getting through 12.4L/100km (11.5 for the CVT) in the week I had it.
Granted, it was just me driving it, the usual softening influence of my wife was not available to the ASX.
The Outlander's 2.0-litre petrol engine's fuel consumption is pegged at a claimed/combined 7.0L/100km with a manual transmission, and drops to 6.8L/100km with the CVT. It requires 91RON fuel and its fuel tank capacity is 63 litres.
Step up to the bigger 2.4-litre petrol engine and your fuel economy numbers climb, too, with the official claim at 7.2L/100km, with that engine paired exclusively with the CVT. It will also sip 91RON fuel and has a slightly smaller tank, at 60 litres.
The 2.2-litre diesel fuel consumption is an official 6.2L/100km, with that engine linked with a conventional six-speed torque converter automatic. It's packing a 60-litre tank.
For some reason I was hoping the manual ASX would be a better car to drive than its CVT siblings. That proves two things. The first, is I have a short memory, and the second... I have a short memory.
I last drove a manual ASX five or so years ago. It was not my favourite car then owing to the engine buzz, the long, light clutch and the gear lever stolen from a pole vaulter's kit bag.
And for all the same reasons, some half a decade later, the manual ASX is still not very good.
Adding to the ASX's issues is the fact that having better access to the power and torque means a propensity to spin the inside wheel with moderate steering lock and throttle applied together.
The tyres screech away with entertaining abandon and the traction control light comes on like that flickering, distant lightning 20 minutes after a storm has blown through.
The CVT's torque steer is one of the aforementioned great mysteries - despite not having a huge amount of torque, the auto model still manages to pull the steering wheel under power.
That's all manageable, though. What isn't is the buzzing you get from the pedals. Once you're moving you realise that you don't have your feet planted on the shopping channel vibrating foot thing.
The accelerator, brake and clutch all have a hotline to a beehive. I got out more than once shaking my right leg because it felt like it was asleep.
Once you're over all that, you find that the ASX is a bit lumpy and bumpy around town, despite a multi-link rear end.
It's weird to ask extra then deliver a ride that isn't demonstrably better than a cheaper torsion beam set-up (sharp speed bumps being the only exception).
The steering is also slow, so you're constantly twirling the wheel when you're moving around the city and the burbs. And the electric assistance is all over the place, making you wonder what you're actually doing.
And after all of that, the manual shifter is so long that if your grip is anything other than completely orthodox, you can actually trap your hand between the dashboard and the gear knob when you go for third.
I think you've probably got the point. This is not the pick of the ASX range, not by a long way. And the manual makes it worse in the city, not better.
Whoever coined the phrase, 'You get what you pay for' could have been describing the Outlander range. If you're counting your pennies, then you'll find yourself behind the wheel of the manual LS, complete with spongy but forgiving five-speed gearbox, largely underwhelming 2.0-litre engine, offering adequate acceleration and a drive experience best described as no-frills.
There's nothing obviously wrong with the way the budget offerings drive, and the inclusion of Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, accessed via a large touchscreen, adds plenty of entertainment options to while away long drives. But there's little in the way of engagement or excitement, a feeling not helped by the steering which feels disconnected from the action going on beneath it.
The bigger petrol engine improves matters, but the pick of the bunch is the top-tier diesel engine which lives exclusively in the most expensive model, the seven seat Exceed ($47,500). The extra torque offers more accessible performance, helping push the Outlander through traffic and up to speed noticeably quicker than the petrol models. You still won't be winning any 0-100km/h sprints, but it feels quicker than its siblings - helped by the sharp-shifting six-speed automatic, instead of the CVT in the cheaper models.
But regardless of the model, the ride (delivered by MacPherson front, multi-link rear suspension) is tuned for comfort, the seats are wide and comfortable, the vision is fine and it's easy to drive and park. In fact, it feels considerably smaller than other dedicated seven seaters. And that's because it is, with the CX-9 for example, stretching a little over 5.0m, compared to the Outlander's 4.7m.
Road noise is kept to a minimum, except the diesel engines aren't the most refined we've driven. The turning circle is an official 10.6 metres. With 190mm ground clearance, the AWD equipped vehicles offer some level of off-road ability and a decent wading depth, but don't expect the best off-road reviews from what is essentially a city-based SUV.
For a very solid $2500, you can add lane departure warning, auto high beam, reverse sensors, blind spot warning, lane change assist and rear cross traffic alert. There's a catch, though - you can't have it on the manual.
The Mazda CX-3 is full of safety gear without ticking boxes.
The maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating stretches back to 2014 when the rules were quite different. I won't speculate on what it might achieve in 2020 as-is, but five stars might be tricky.
The entire Outlander range was awarded the maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating when tested in 2014, owing to standard safety features including seven airbags (dual front, side and curtain airbags, as well as a driver's knee airbag), Hill Start Assist, a reversing camera and rear parking sensors.
Safety Pack models add AEB, active cruise control and lane departure warning, while Exceed models offer blind-spot monitoring, a surround-view parking monitor and Mitsubishi's 'Misacceleration Mitigation System', which will hit the brakes if it senses an impending accident while you're parking.
All Outlanders are equipped with two ISOFIX attachment points, one in each window seat in the back, so you can fit two baby seats.
The three-year capped price servicing regime is not bad and every service you get at the dealer extends the roadside cover for another 12 months.
A small bit of good news for you - where previously a service was $240, they're now $199 for all three during the program, with the initial 1000km service remaining free (and annoying).
All Outlanders are covered by Mitsubishi's five-year/100,000km warranty, and in terms of service costs, require a trip to the service centre every 12 months or 15,000kms. Each also arrives with four years complimentary roadside assistance and three years capped price servicing, with service and maintenance costs published on Mitsubishi's Australian website.
An owners manual and a full-size spare is included in the standard features list, and the Outlander range received a 2.5 out of five reliability rating from US based research company J.D. Power. The injection of fresh technology will likely assist with resale value, too.
For common faults, problems and issues, including reliability issues, please see our Mitsubishi Outlander problems page for owner feedback.