In Sydney for the launch of the updated 2016 Outlander range, Tetsuro Aikawa, Mitsubishi’s global President had a clear message: watch this space. Aikawa-San says Mitsubishi’s new model drought is over and there is a focus on stylish new vehicles and quality.
Appointment of Aikawa to Mitsubishi’s top job is significant – he is passionate about product, a ‘car guy’ with a background in new vehicle development and was in Australia extensively during the 1990s when he was in charge of creating the third generation Mitsubishi Magna and Verada. He drives an Outlander PHEV every day and proudly boasts he recently went 50 days without needing to re-fuel.
“New products will rebuild the Mitsubishi brand,” Aikawa said. “The new management team has a focus on (sales) growth and now we’re challenging ourselves to deliver new products and quality.”
Just two weeks away is the all-new Mitsubishi Triton ute, the updated Outlander PHEV is scheduled for the fourth quarter and a stunning newcomer based on the XR PHEV II has been green-lighted for production.
The mid-life update for the Outlander unveiled in Sydney is highlighted by a revised front-end style with Mitsubishi’s ‘dynamic shield’ grille. This will feature on future new models.
As well as the styling changes, the update focused on refinement. For example the CVT transmission boasts 26 per-cent better torque transmission for more linear acceleration and reduced ‘flaring’ and there have been 39 items addressed to improve NVH (for example the windows are new and there is more insulation material).
Mitsubishi Outlander Overview
Outlander is Mitsubishi’s mid-size seven-seat SUV (the other mid-sizer is the more workmanlike Triton-based Challenger). As part of the 2016 mid-life update, Mitsubishi has revised the Outlander model lineup so now the entry-grade is badged LS, mid-grade is the XLS and the range-topper is the Exceed.
Over the LS, XLS scores digital audio, touch-screen satellite navigation, dual-zone air-conditioning, auto headlights and wipers, electric folding heated exterior mirrors, cargo blind and uprated LCD instruments.
The Exceed ramps-up the technology and luxury with items like forward collision mitigation, adaptive cruise control, power tailgate, sunroof, leather seats (fronts heated), power adjustment for the drivers’ seat, LED headlights some extra chrome and gloss black trim highlights.
The full range is:
2WD LS 2.0l 5-speed manual $28,490
2WD LS 2.0l CVT $30,490
2WD XLS 2.0l CVT $33,490
4WD LS 2.4l CVT $33,490
4WD XLS 2.4l CVT $36,490
4WD Exceed 2.4l CVT $43,490
4WD XLS 2.2l Auto $39,490
4WD Exceed 2.2l Auto $46,490
Mitsubishi Outlander Engine
While there has been a focus on improved NVH across the range, there have been no mechanical changes to the engines for the updated Mitsubishi Outlander.
So we have the 110kW/190Nm 2.0-litre petrol engine (front-wheel-drive only), the 124kW/220Nm 2.4-litre petrol engine and the 110kW/260Nm 2.2-litre turbo-diesel. The 2.0-litre drives through either a five-speed manual transmission or CVT automatic, the 2.4-litre drives through a CVT automatic and the turbo-diesel is exclusively mated to a six-speed automatic.
Combined-cycle fuel consumption ranges through 7.0l/100kms (2.0-litre manual), 6.7l/100kms (2.0-litre auto), 7.2/100kms (2.4-litre) and 6.2l/100kms (turbo-diesel).
Mitsubishi Outlander The Interior
The focus inside for the updated Mitsubishi Outlander was on a higher quality look/feel. That’s immediately obvious thanks to better materials throughout including soft-touch elements and a new headliner.
Seats too are much better – the direct result of feedback from Mitsubishi Outlander owners. We’re talking new-design cushions, more support thanks to extra bolstering and new materials (leather for Exceed model).
The driving position is from the ‘high-mounted SUV’ school offering a good field of vision. And even the steering wheel has been enhanced with better leather and grip.
Amongst the elements to get the soft touch treatment was the instrument cluster. As usual with Mitsubishi, the Outlander’s instruments are excellent – not overly complicated, nice graphics and intuitive to operate.
Rear seat accommodation is good with leg-room on-par with the best in this class. Of course Mitsubishi Outlander is available as a seven-seater - the extra seats best only for youngsters.
Mitsubishi Outlander Exterior & Styling
We’re certainly giving a green tick the fresh, new look for the Mitsubishi Outlander. When first launched the Outlander was easy on the eye but the 2016 update has given it a much more dynamic/purposeful look.
This is most noticeable at the front with the debut of Mitsubishi’s ‘Dynamic Shield’ look and some cues to the larger Pajero SUV. There’s a chrome and silver-plated grille, silver skid plate and new-design fog light bezels.
And this is enhanced further in the range-topping Exceed which scores LED headlights (all models get LED DRLs).
At the rear, the updated Mitsubishi Outlander is identified by a new-design bumper, a silver skid plate and LED rear lights.
You’ll also notice trim highlights under the four doors, silver roof rails and more chrome accents.
All models ride on new-look two-tone 18-incha alloy wheels.
Mitsubishi Outlander On The Road
The excellent roads along Pittwater and the Hawkesbury River north of Sydney were the venue for Mitsubishi Outlander’s national media preview. A good setting to exploit Outlander’s updated handling and NVH.
Mitsubishi says the driving dynamics of the updated Outlander benefit from a more rigid body, bigger rear dampers and recalibration of the suspension and electric power steering.
Your www.carshowroom.com.au correspondent got behind the wheel of two all-wheel-drive variants – the XLS 2.4-litre petrol ($36.490) and range-topping Exceed turbo-diesel ($46,490). The XLS drove through Mitsubishi’s CVT automatic and the Exceed used a conventional six-speed automatic.
Opening the batting for the drive from Sydney’s CBD to Cottage point was the Mitsubishi Outlander XLS 2.4-litre petrol. Mitsubishi says the CVT auto has been revised for better acceleration both from a standing start and in the mid-range for overtaking – better kick-down feel when accelerating and also better downshift response.
We’ll go along with that - in fact this CVT is one of the better ones with much less ‘buzzing’ than you notice in some rivals. However, while the 124kW/220Nm 2.4-litre was impressively refined it’s not as powerful as say the Ford Kuga or Mazda CX-5.
In the twisty stuff we used the steering wheel paddle-shifters to keep our Outlander XLS percolating and it was certainly competent. Ride was good and isolation from bumps was very impressive.
As an all-round package we gave our vote to the Mitsubishi Outlander Exceed turbo-diesel. Mitsubishi’s efforts for increased refinement were perhaps more evident in the 110kW/360Nm turbo-diesel which took us from Cottage Point back to the Airport via one of the predictable Sydney traffic snarls.
In the tight hillclimb up to Bobbin Head, the combination of that powerful turbo-diesel and the conventional six-speed automatic was impressive. We noticed handy acceleration out of the corners and impressive refinement when cruising at speed.
Mitsubishi Outlander Challenges
No doubt about it, Mitsubishi has crafted some smart updates for the Outlander which is noticeably more refined on-road that its predecessor. However it’s still not as agile as the sporty players in this league (CX-5 and Kuga).
Mitsubishi Outlander The Competition
Circling the updated Mitsubishi Outlander are some credentialed rivals. This is one of Australia’s toughest market segments so don’t rush things, be prepared to test-drive the major contenders and haggle with dealers.
Leading the charge is the just-updated and sharply-priced German-origin Ford Kuga. Revised engines sharpen the overall Kuga package, we still like the looks inside and out and the driving dynamics are equal-best in this segment.
Sharing the driving dynamics gold star in this league is the top-selling Mazda CX-5. Also just updated, the CX-5 is terrific value and, good as the 2.5-litre petrol engine is, Mazda’s 2.2-litre turbo-diesel is a pearler.
Nissan’s X-Trail is also great value and offers seven seats. It’s nicely refined on-road and spacious inside. Compared to the CX-5, Nissan’s 96kW/320Nm 1.6-litre turbo-diesel is a bit light-on but the X-Trail (either petrol or diesel) is a nice steer.