Mitsubishi Outlander: new family contender

The Mitsubishi Outlander is reliable, keenly priced and well put together
The Mitsubishi Outlander is reliable, keenly priced and well put together
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THE Mitsubishi Outlander has often been viewed as a 4x4 that never quite got the success it warranted. Will the third generation car change all that?

The Mitsubishi Outlander makes an interesting left-field choice if you’re looking for a reliable, well-equipped seven-seater that’s keenly priced and decently screwed together. There’s just the one engine on offer, and it’s a capable 150PS 2.2-litre diesel, mated to an all-wheel drive chassis.

The tie-up which saw Mitsubishi get a diesel engine from Peugeot and Citroen while they got the previous generation Outlander and dressed it up, respectively, as the C-Crosser and 4007, had only one loser, in Europe at least. People loved the French cars because they were heavily discounted and offered far better build quality than we were used to from the marques at the time. Mitsubishi was left to pick up the pieces. All of which is a bit of a shame as the Outlander is a really good 4x4 and now makes a great used buy.

There’s not a great deal of choice when it comes to the mechanicals. Although other markets get a petrol engine and a choice of front or four-wheel drive, Mitsubishi UK has decided to keep things simple and instead just offer one diesel engine with a four-wheel drive chassis. Although it’s 105kg lighter than its predecessor, this is still quite a big chunk for a 150PS engine to shovel along, even if the engine has been tweaked for more low-end boost.

Peak torque arrives between 1,700 and 2,500rpm, so you’ll need to work the six-speed gearbox quite diligently to stay on top of things. If that’s too much like hard work, choose the six-speed auto option with its steering wheel paddles for manual override. The auto does add 1.5 seconds to the manual car’s sprint to 100km/h, stretching it out to 11.2 seconds. Both cars register an identical 124mph top speed.

A good deal of development budget has been spent on improving the Outlander’s refinement: more sophisticated engine mounts, thicker glass and improved sound insulation materials have all been fitted. Electric power steering with passive rear steer also feature although the Outlander is not the sort of vehicle you’ll throw around on the long way home. Ride quality can be a little unsettled on surface imperfections.

The second generation Outlander’s front end was always reminiscent of the Lancer Evo, which can only be a good thing, but the Evo’s dead and buried now so Mitsubishi has had to move on. This MK3 Outlander’s slab sides, long overhangs and lugubrious face don’t lend it much in the way of visual athleticism, but much of that will be forgiven when you get inside.

The Japanese brand hasn’t always done interiors very well and although you won’t think you’re in an Audi Q5, this Outlander offers plenty of soft-touch finishes and a clean, architectural fascia design. It’s a decent size too, with a third row of seats that disappears into the floor, more legroom for second row passengers and plenty of room up front.

There’s also loads of cubby stowage and up to 1,022 litres of space on the flat floor with the rear seats folded, and 591 litres when in five-seat mode. The load floor is now 1.69m long when the second and third rows are folded, a massive 33.5cm up on its predecessor. The middle row of seats can slide on runners back and forth over a range of 25cm.

Expect entry-level cars to come equipped with air-conditioning, alloy wheels, cruise control, four powered windows, remote locking, seven airbags and stability control, while mid-level cars will feature things like leather and dual-zone climate control. Buyers of the range-topping model will get refinements such as sat-nav, a parking camera and a high-end audio system, along with advanced safety systems including lane departure warning, radar cruise control and a collision mitigation system (which applies the brakes automatically if it senses an impending crash).

The model line-up of trim levels runs from GX2 to GX5. Mitsubishi have also announced a plug-in hybrid that’s capable of an equivalent of 151mpg, but we’ll have to wait for that. Pricing has crept up over that of the old car by about 2 per cent but the entry-level variant should still start at under £24,000.

Mitsubishi has taken a number of steps to improve the Outlander’s efficiency. Lighter, and with better aerodynamics, the Outlander’s CO2 return has dropped from 164g/km to a much more palatable 146g/km, while combined cycle fuel economy has improved from 44.8mpg to 50.4mpg compared to the second generation car. While that’s still some way off what Mazda is achieving with its ground-breaking CX-5, it’s certainly better than many rivals. Do bear in mind that if you opt for the automatic gearbox, your economy won’t be quite so impressive, but the 46.3mpg figure is still better than the previous shape manual model.

If you’re hankering after something spacious, relatively affordable, super-reliable and which can seat seven, the Mitsubishi Outlander is a serious contender. It’s not the best looking car we’ve ever seen, but if you’re not too concerned about beauty and prefer more practical considerations, it certainly deserves a place on your shortlist.

A problem for the Outlander is that it pitches right into a very crowded marketplace with plenty of talented rivals, though relatively few are offered with seven seats. Even so, Mitsubishi will struggle to shout hard enough in the UK to get this model’s merits across.

For those who listen, here’s a highly capable family contender with more space than a Freelander-style compact 4x4 and more all-round capability than a Qashqai-like crossover. So if the obvious contenders don’t appeal, this just might.

VITAL STATS

CAR Mitsubishi Outlander

PRICE £23,699

CO2 EMISSIONS 138g/km

PERFORMANCE Max speed 124mph; 0-60mph 11.2s

FUEL CONSUMPTION (combined) 48.7mpg