Mitsubishi has just launched the all-new Outlander in the UK, the third generation of the SUV first introduced in 2001, and we’ve just reviewed the thing. Competing with the Honda CR-V, Hyundai Santa Fe, Kia Sorrento, Nissan X-Trail and Toyota RAV4, the new Outlander aims to entice people that want seven-seat practicality and reliability as well as good value and efficiency.
The previous generation Outlander was praised for its looks and drivability, something Mitsubishi has not ignored in this latest iteration. But the company also focused on improving refinement and reducing fuel consumption and emissions whilst adding additional creature comforts.
The Mitsubishi Outlander is the first production car in the range to showcase the Japanese company’s next generation design language, the Outlander’s all new bodywork is adorned with softer edges and chrome detailing, lending the exterior a more elegant appearance.
Large glazed areas and door mirrors make it easy to see out of the interior, where clear instrumentation and controls are surrounded by a piano black applique on upper level models. While this adds a luxurious element, it can also be easily scratched, so you may need to ask unruly kids to check their sharp implements at the door.
It’s well-designed on the whole, the only real issue being the key fob location at the front of the centre console, which is difficult to access if something’s in the dual cup holders.
The Mitsubishi Outlander is an SUV and is therefore inherently practical. With seven seats and a bevy of storage compartments, there is a place for everything from children to mobile phones. There is even a hidden cargo area beneath the boot floor and the door pocket cup holders are large enough to accommodate 1-litre drinks bottles.
The rearmost seats in the third row are now two separate units rather than one, which improves practicality. And with the two rear rows folded down the load area stretches to 1.7m long, an increase of 335mm over the previous model, driving capacity to 1,022 litres.
Raising and lowering the third row is now a simple one-hand operation though it is still a chore to get into the seats, despite the second row moving forward and aft on a track to facilitate access. These are best reserved for small children.
Performance & Handling
All new Outlander models are powered by the company’s aluminium 2.2-litre, 16v, four-cylinder common rail direct injection diesel engine, which has one of the lowest compression ratios in the industry. This, in combination with the engine’s reduction in weight, enables it to return lower fuel consumptions and emissions.
In fact, at 1,555kg the new car weighs 100kg less than the outgoing model and 374kg less than the Hyundai Santa Fe. The Outlander feels surprisingly agile despite being able to accommodate seven passengers. The 380Nm torque output of its powerplant and communicative steering also make it an enjoyable drive, for an SUV.
Economy & Environment
The Outlander is also a class leader in economy. The GX5 auto we tested is claimed to return 47.8mpg in the combined cycle – more than 7mpg better than most of its competitors and nearly 10mpg more than the Nissan X-Trail. The seven-seat emits CO2 at a rate of 138g/km with a manual transmission and 153g/km with the optional auto box. This places it firmly in VED Band E, the same as a 1.4-litre VW Polo.
The Outlander comes fitted with an intelligent 4WD system with three modes – 4WD Eco, 4WD Auto and 4WD Lock. In the Eco mode the car relies mostly on its front wheels for better fuel economy, while in Auto mode all four wheels are driven and torque distributed accordingly for added traction. The 4WD Lock mode is intended for rigorous off road use.
Equipment & value
Though we drove the top-of-the-range GX5 version at the vehicle’s launch (complete with a power-operated tailgate and DAB radio), Mitsubishi expects the biggest seller to be the GX4 automatic, which comes fitted with leather upholstery, heated electric front seats, rear parking sensors and the company’s all-new hi-definition touchscreen sat-nav system with rear view camera.
The GX4 also includes Xenon super-wide HID headlights, which are claimed to illuminate 80 degrees of the road ahead, an improvement over the 42-degree area lit by conventional HID headlamps. Overall it’s a suitable list of standard equipment given the GX4’s £30,000 price. The automatic transmission adds £1,400 to the price tag.
The entry-level model, the GX2, features basic standard equipment as well as climate control, auto lights and cruise control for £23,700. The GX3 adds the third row of seats, dual-zone climate control, rain-sensing wipers and Bluetooth steering wheel controls for an additional £2,700.
The new Mitsubishi Outlander comes fitted with seven airbags, including curtain and knee airbags. It also features two stage seat belt pre-tensioners to reduce impact on the body in the event of an accident.
The Outlander also achieves a five star rating from Euro NCAP, and returned better results in child occupant and pedestrian safety than the Volvo XC60. According to the company’s managing director, Thatcham unofficially says it is the safest vehicle they’ve tested.
A slew of technological aides, such as a lane departure warning system, adaptive cruise control and forward collision mitigation, which warns the driver of an impending collision and intervenes if necessary to slow the vehicle, are standard on the top-spec GX5 model we drove.
Mitsubishi is known for creating driver-focused vehicles such as the Evo X, with which the Outlander shares its platform. Though very different animals, it’s not difficult to see its genetic origins. As a whole the Outlander is a good car with a lot of standard equipment in the GX4 and GX5 models, but these come at a price. And just as competition in this popular segment has remained steady, the Outlander has improved, becoming a worthy contender for buyers looking for a sensible seven-seat SUV that’s also entertaining to drive.
Model tested: Mitsubishi Outlander GX5 Auto
Engine: 2.2-litre 4-cylinder diesel
Power: 150PS (147bhp)
Acceleration: 0-62 in 11.7 seconds (auto)
Top speed: 125mph
Emissions: 153g/km CO2