Mitsubishi’s Outlander is the Japanese manufacturer’s medium-size SUV offering, seating seven in what outwardly looks like a slick high-rider, though it isn’t really suited to off-road work. It’s well equipped and certainly makes a good case for itself if value for money is paramount - you do get quite a lot for your cash here.
Now into its third generation, first introduced in 2012 and the recipient of a facelift in 2015, the Outlander actually goes head-to-head against smaller competition, being pegged less as a full blown SUV and more of a large crossover.
It’s more versatile than competitors such as the Nissan X-Trail, Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Hyundai Tucson, Volkswagen Tiguan, and Subaru Forester just based on the fact that even the base LS model can be specified with 7 seats. And in addition to seven airbags, the Outlander also includes some very welcome active safety features such as Autonomous Emergency Braking, making it a very sensible choice for families.
Buyers will have a choice between the Outlander 2WD Petrol, Outlander AWD Petrol, or Outlander AWD Diesel. Those options denote the powertrain package, but within each can be specified as a base-trim LS, mid-spec LS With Safety Pack, or in the bells-and-whistles Exceed trim.
“The restyle wasn't just done for the sake of appearance, the co-efficient of drag was reduced from 0.36 to 0.33 to cut fuel consumption and emissions.” - CarsGuide
The new Dynamic Shield front end, revised rear, and LED illumination which it received following its mid-cycle facelift brought some visual flair to what was a decently modern but ageing design. This is supplemented by a set of eye catching 18-inch alloys that are standard across the range.
It’s now sporting a more cohesive design with regard to the rest of the Mitsubishi line-up and will continue retain this resemblance to the newer cars from the marque. A criticism of the original third-generation Outlander was an elegant if the nondescript exterior, and this facelift endows it with enough road presence to keep up with the stream of increasingly ostentatious crossovers.
Engine And Drivetrain
“You can get one with an underwhelming 2.4-litre petrol engine like this vehicle or a more virile (but more expensive) 2.3-litre turbo-diesel.” - Motoring
The Outlander is available locally with three different engine options, ranging from an entry-level naturally-aspirated 2.0-litre motor with 2WD. Higher grades gain all-wheel drive with either a gutsier petrol or a diesel.
The base engine in the LS 2WD generates 110kW and 190Nm but often struggles to motivate the large-ish Outlander. The more powerful 2.4-litre engine in the AWD Petrol fares better with 124kW and 220Nm. However, the 2.2-litre turbodiesel is the obvious winner with 110kW and, importantly, 360Nm of torque.
The diesel also the most fuel-efficient, boasting a 6.2-litre/100km claimed consumption figure, as well as being the most effortless to drive thanks to its reserves torque. The 2.0-litre especially needs to be worked hard to extract pace from it, less so with the 2.4-litre petrol, but expect fuel use to increase in proportion to how much revs are chased.
Speaking of those petrol engines, they both will be mated to either a five-speed manual transmission or Mitsubishi’s INVECS III Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). The diesel engine, however, will have shift duties handled exclusively by a six-speed torque converter automatic.
“Even if you opt for the range-topping model, with the full leather trim, glossy black dashboard inserts and metallic highlights, there is no disguising the wanton lack of imagination here.” - Autocar
Where the Mitsubishi surpasses the majority of its direct rivals by a long way is interior space. While its large outer dimensions perhaps make it a little more cumbersome to thread through urban environments, it counters with an excess in load-lugging versatility.
Indeed, there are a third row of seats should you choose to have them, but shoehorning a pair of adults back there is a task best left to never. However, children should find it comfortable enough and just having the option for extra passengers goes further than rivals' 5-seat capacity.
Looking at the interior, though, isn’t all that inspiring. It would have been nice to see Mitsubishi put more effort to update the cabin like they did with the body, but as it is it's a bit of a let down. However, everything is put together well enough and the materials are alright with a soft touch layer to much of the trim and nice feeling synthetic leather seats in higher specification. The Outlander’s cabin is functional, sure, but far from fresh.
Behind The Wheel
“The light steering makes it easy to negotiate tight car parks and driveways but lacks the feel and feedback of something like a CX-5 or Tiguan.” - CarAdvice
Mitsubishi developed the Outlander as an SUV and that’s precisely how you'd expect it to drive. The suspension is rather soft, fittingly, able to soak in the rutted surfaces and speed bumps involved in daily driving, though some of the more shocking judders can be heard - and felt - inside, as can tyre noise.
Most rivals have managed to shed these vestiges of unsophistication and it’s a shame Mitsubishi hasn’t found a way to master that same cosseting formula when it comes to on-the-road refinement.
They’ve also let a tinge of Lancer Evolution seep into the medium SUV, with a nicely judged balance of body roll and comfort, aided no doubt by the weight reduction seen over its predecessor, making it more nimble than one might expect, and therefore arming it with more predictable handling. That said, you still be wanting in steering response.
Safety and Technology
“All versions come with stability control and seven airbags, including one to protect the driver’s knees. Top models get plenty of sophisticated safety measures,…” - WhatCar
The Outlander takes the issue of vehicle safety rather seriously and offers quite an extensive suite of features as standard, reflected in the 5-star ANCAP safety rating. Elsewhere too, safety watchdogs award it a similarly high score.
Standard safety kit kicks off with front, side, curtain, and driver knee airbags, anti-lock brakes, electronic brake force distribution, emergency brake assist, stability control, hill start assist, and a reversing camera.
The range-topping Exceed variant, though, buys you extras such as AEB (Autonomous Emergency Braking), Forward Collision Mitigation, Multi Around Monitor, Adaptive Cruise Control, power tailgate, automatic wipers and headlights, along with an electric sunroof.
All Outlanders come with a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system mounted along the centre stack which works well enough on its own; though its interface and hardware lacks the polish of some of its closest rivals. Thankfully, there is support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to enable true smartphone integration.
The Outlander is an SUV that, mostly due to its segment-straddling large size, handles the practical aspects of ownership with aplomb. There’s plenty of space for cargo and passengers, it rides fairly decently, and offers a healthy amount of features inside to keep you safe and entertained, though probably not from behind the wheel.
But it’s the little touches where the SUV falters, and in comparison to its more stylish, younger, and more refined contemporaries, the Outlander can feel old hat at times - but typically through no on-paper deficiency. To many, though, these won’t matter, which is why it’s worth test driving your shortlist before deciding. If you lean toward the Outlander, you’ll be getting a lot of car for the price.
CarsGuide - 3.5/5 - “The revised Outlander is a genuine all-rounder and that should be worth something to those looking for more than purely jacked-up urban transport.”
CarAdvice - 7/10 - “Like the Nissan X-Trail, the Mitsubishi Outlander is outclassed in most areas by just about all of its rivals. However, the option of seven seats offered by these two models give them a unique selling point in the medium SUV class.”
Autocar - 3.5/5 - “…when similar-priced 4x4s approach their limits so much more tidily, we can’t overlook its dynamic limitations. In some situations, this Mitsubishi just isn’t as grippy, predictable or manageable – plain car-like, in other words – as the class standard.”
Motoring - 72/100 - “Ultimately, this is a vehicle you buy with your head, not your heart. Think of it like an appliance that will go from A to B in unspectacular style. Not unlike a Toyota really.”
WhatCar - 2/5 - The Mitsubishi Outlander wins no prizes for refinement or interior quality, but the hybrid’s potentially low running costs will appeal to SUV buyers.”
MotorTrend - 2/5 - “While it remains a decent choice in the crossover segment, the 2016 Outlander continues to lag behind the competition.”