Road test: new Mitsubishi Outlander

There is no way we can be accused of failing to conduct a full road test of Mitsubishi’s new Outlander this week.  Urban sprawl, the country’s main motorway arteries and the byways of Middle England have all enjoyed our review vehicle – 540 miles in all.  The weather too has provided a proper, typical summer mix.

The Outlander, first shown at Geneva last year, is finally gracing our showrooms.  I liked the looks at the show and am pleased to report that even bereft of the show’s bright lights and pristine wax polish (our review car is somewhat grubby now) it is still a handsome beast.  The front retains the family face of Mitsubishi’s bigger vehicles with a pleasing simplicity to the design.  The Outlander’s flanks are plain and unadorned, the only break being a very high swage line which emphasises the vehicle’s stature.  The rear is slightly ‘American’ with the glitzy finisher across the base of the window but is still neat.

Pleasing yet durable

There is no mistaking the size of the Outlander – it is a proper seven-seater and although access and egress is a little challenging for the rear-most passengers, the back row isn’t a bad place to be. Staying with the interior, the materials used all feel both pleasing yet durable to survive family life.  All the levers, knobs and handles are intuitive and the rear-most seats pop up or down in just a couple of seconds.  Moving forward to the dashboard, the most pleasing feature is the absence of the fiddly Kenwood multimedia system which has dogged Mitsubishis in recent years.  However, the over-complicated sat-nav is the new system’s greatest shortfall; the display is particularly busy and the touch-screen options are simply not as intuitive or responsive as they ought to be.  The rest of the controls are obvious although some buttons, including the ignition, are hidden behind the gear-change paddle and indicator stalk.

Extremely manoeuvrable

The Outlander ate up the miles extremely well.  The commanding view, ample interior space, clear instrumentation and six-speed auto ‘box on this top-spec GX5 model all contributed to a stress-free run.  The single engine option, a 2.2 diesel, now produces a little less power and torque than its predecessor but is more efficient and certainly up to the job here.  Despite the Outlander’s size, it is extremely manoeuvrable.  The rear camera is absolutely essential but the good mirrors and squared-off shape make it easy to slot into any supermarket car park space.

In the 4WD Eco mode (default setting), power is to the front wheels unless a loss of grip is detected.  A swift departure can lead to some torque steer (where the vehicle snatches to the side as one wheel gains more grip) but it isn’t excessive.  The 4WD Auto setting helps, as it delivers power to the rear too.  In either of these settings, the Outlander does feel quite agile – certainly for its size.  Turn-in is effective and cornering manners in general are good with very little roll and a balanced fore-aft weight distribution.  It’s clear the off-road pedigree is excellent; driving over the field here for the photo shoot didn’t challenge the Outlander’s capabilities one bit!

There is an additional Eco mode (not to be confused with the 4WD Eco) which numbs throttle responses a little in order to save fuel.  It doesn’t affect the driving experience much and is fine on the motorway but I did prefer the crisper responses with Eco mode deselected on the A-roads.  It isn’t immediately obvious how much it improves consumption but pottering around, we managed high 30s mpg; on longer runs, low 40s are easily achievable.

The lane departure warning is extremely sensitive.  On one windy section of the M40, the Outlander’s high profile meant we were blown about (still within the lane’s white lines) but the loud beeps became a nuisance.  The other electronic aid I didn’t enjoy is the adaptive cruise control.  I use cruise control a great deal and find the adaptive function very useful.  The setup here is not gentle at all for passengers, accelerating fairly briskly and braking over-hard – sometimes picking-up vehicles in adjacent lanes with obvious consequences.  In the end, I abandoned use of cruise control altogether in favour of the old-fashioned watching traffic and adjusting my right foot.

Fundamentally, the Outlander is a sound vehicle and despite its size, is easy to drive and looks smart.  We’re knocking one point off for the toys here which don’t entirely enhance the driving experience.  We’d opt for a low or mid specification model and enjoy the genuinely good capability of this truck.

Mitsubishi Outlander GX5 2.2 diesel £33,999 (range starts at £23,699 for the GX2).

Power: 150PS (@ 3,500 rpm), torque: 380 Nm (@ 1,750 – 2,500 rpm), emissions: 138 g/km CO2 (band E), 0-62 mph: 10.2 secs.

Motor Writer rating: ●●●●○


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