by Brad Leach - 12/12/12
Australia’s record-breaking 2012 new car market has been the year of the mid-size SUV. And there’s more to come next year so for Mitsubishi, the all-new Outlander couldn’t come soon enough.
Globally the Outlander has been one of Mitsubishi’s most successful models – over 600,000 have been sold and Australia actually ranks number four in terms of Outlander nations.
Taking on the likes of other 2012 debutants Mazda CX-5, Honda CR-V and Subaru Forester and (from next year) the all-new Toyota RAV and Ford Kuga demands a strong showing. Handsome new looks inside and out, terrific fuel economy from two petrol engines and timely arrival of a diesel model (likely to account for 15 per-cent of sales) give the all-new made-in-Japan Mitsubishi Outlander a solid start.
And sharp prices starting from $28,990 sure help.
Mitsubishi listened to customers in developing the all-new Outlander. That feedback is best summarised: “We love the package size (not too big, not too small), but our Outlander is way too noisy on the road, the interior is plain and even our kids are squeezed when seated in the third row of seats.”
Mitsubishi has delivered with the latest Outlander much more contemporary and aerodynamic on the outside, much more stylish on the inside – both major improvements it must be said – and the third row seat is now one of the most functional in this segment.
And that third row of seats counts big with family buyers – Mitsubishi Outlander seven-seater starting at $38,990.
Big changes under the bonnet too with two petrol engines – a 2.0-litre exclusively for front-wheel-drive entry-level models, a 2.4-litre powerplant for all-wheel-drive models and a 2.2-litre diesel (available on in mid-grade and top specification 4WD models).
As per normal Mitsubishi gradings, the entry-level Outlander is the ES, mid-grade is the LS and the range-topper is the Aspire.
LS versions gain a rear-view camera (6.1-inch colour screen), 16-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone air-conditioning, front fog lights, privacy glass and silver-colour interior accents.
For the Aspire you can add interior leather seats (electronic adjustment for the driver), 18-inch alloy wheels, some extra chrome outside, an electric tailgate and wood print interior trim highlights.
On top of that, for an extra $5,500 you can equip your Aspire model Mitsubishi Outlander with the ‘Premium’ pack which adds a premium nine-speaker Rockford Fosgate audio system plus high-tech safety features like Forward Collision Mitigation System (FCM) and Adaptive Cruise Control System (ACC).
All-new Mitsubishi Outlander also scores improved towing capacities – 1.6-tonnes for petrol-powered models and 2.0-tonnes for diesel versions.
And on the safety front, all-new Mitsubishi Outlander has been awarded the maximum five-star rating from ANCAP.
Those with a keen eye on prices will notice Mitsubishi has sharpened the pricing pencils for the all-new Outlander with many models actually going down in price compared to the outgoing versions. The range looks like this:
2WD ES 2.0-litre petrol 5MT (5 seats) $28,990
2WD ES 2.0-litre petrol CVT (5 seats) $31,240
2WD LS 2.0-litre petrol CVT (5 seats) $34,990
4WD ES 2.4-litre petrol CVT (5 seats) $33,990
4WD LS 2.4-litre petrol CVT (7 seats) $38,990
4WD LS 2.2-litre diesel 6AT (7 seats) $40,990
4WD Aspire 2.4-litre petrol CVT (7 seats) $43,490
4WD Aspire 2.2-litre diesel 6AT (7 seats) $45,490
Aspire Premium (which amongst its extras adds the safety of adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and forward collision mitigation system plus the convenience of the power tailgate) adds $5,500.
The bad news: Mitsubishi Outlander V6 is gone. The good news: all-new Mitsubishi Outlander gains a diesel.
So it’s a three-pronged engine lineup and opening the batting is a new entry-level 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine for 2WD models. Maximum power is 110kW at 6,000rpm, peak torque is 190Nm at 4200rpm and fuel consumption is rated at 6.6l/100kms (CVT) or 7.0l/100kms (five-speed manual).
Mitsubishi’s 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine has been significantly enhanced for the all-new Outlander – a 20 per-cent improvement in fuel consumption is most impressive (now 7.5l/100kms). Maximum power is 124kW at 6000rpm and peak torque is 220Nm (previously 125kW/226Nm). The 2.4-litre petrol powers four-wheel-drive Outlanders and drives exclusively through a CVT automatic transmission.
The 2.2-litre diesel engine is a breakthrough – not to be confused with the diesel developed by Peugeot, the all-new Outlander diesel is exclusively the work of Mitsubishi. Maximum power is 110kW at 3500rpm and peak torque is 360Nm at 1500rpm. Diesel-powered Mitsubishi Outlanders achieve combined cycle furl consumption of 5.8l/100kms and drive through a six-speed automatic transmission (not a CVT).
The lack of fuel-saving auto start/stop was a strange omission (it’s available in Outlanders sold in other markets). Mitsubishi Australia’s product planning boss James Toll reckons it’s a cost-benefit calculation – auto start/stop does save fuel but the requirements for a special battery and related hardware would have increased the retail price.
Going up-scale inside was a key responsibility for Mitsuyoshi Hattori, Mitsubishi Outlander’s project leader in Japan. Just opening the door shows how successful Hattori-San and his teams have been – all-new Outlander runs elegantly finished soft-touch trims, gloss piano black, aluminium and timber-style highlights wherever you look and debuts nice new seat materials (leather in Aspire versions).
Rake/reach adjustment – at last – combines with a new, three-spoke steering wheel (smaller diameter and nice paddle-shifters) to provide a good driving position although the seat squab was on the short side even for your average-sized Car Showroom correspondent.
Dashboard/Instruments? Yep they got the once-over as well and the all-new Mitsubishi Outlander delivers a modern look and nice gauges. Call us “Industrial Minimalists” if you like, but we liked the aluminium-look trim highlights in LS models the best and the wood-look trims in upscale Aspire the least.
Entry-level Mitsubishi Outlander ES runs a single CD, six-speaker audio system, mid-grade LS and Aspire go to a 6.1-inch touch panel system, while range-topping Aspire with the Premium pack gets the nine-speaker Rockford Fosgate system (although the 10-inch sub-woofer in the back does intrude on the cargo area a tad).
We tried the third-row seat and yes, access and comfort when seated is significantly better than the previous Mitsubishi Outlander – the youngsters will thank you for that.
Now here’s some bad news: you may remember the previous Mitsubishi Outlander had a clever split tailgate with the lower bumper cut-out panel facilitating a low loading lip for cumbersome items. Well in the all-new model it’s ‘gon-ski’.
Mitsubishi says the one-piece tailgate design of the all-new Outlander is low and thus almost compensates for the two-piece job.
Now here’s some good news. All-new Mitsubishi Outlander employs a new design to fold-flat the 60/40 split-fold second and third seating rows for quicker conversion for maximum loads. Cargo space is 477-litres (rear seat in-place) or a handy 1,608-litres (seat folded).
While the ‘umbrella theme for all-new Mitsubishi Outlander’s looks was ‘Solid-Safe-Simple’ in fact there was a lot of focus on aerodynamics. Evidence is plentiful – for instance the sharp front corners – and the results successful – Cd down to 0.33.
At the front too, the grille adopts an aero look but retains the Mitsubishi ‘three-diamond’ logo. And – as per current practice – the headlights wrap onto the front fenders.
Clean side surfaces are again a nod to aero efficiency (although curiously Australian Outlanders aren’t fitted with the underbody panels seen in Europe).
The rear sees that new one-piece tailgate design and nice modern lights.
Car Showroom drove all three engines and LS and Aspire specification Mitsubishi Outlanders over two days from Melbourne out to Daylesford on a route which covered city, suburban and rural roads plus some dry dirt sections.
Our favourite engine was the 2.2-litre diesel which proved admirably refined and its extra 140Nm of torque over the 2.4-litre petrol was a handy ally in the hilly going. The run back to Melbourne with the entry-level 2.0-litre powerplant showed the newcomer to be a strong performer and also nicely refined.
Over the twisty stuff, the Mitsubishi Outlander wasn’t quite up to the mark set by the all-new Mazda CX-5 but was competent enough. There was little body roll but the Outlander just wasn’t quite as sharp/sporty in its steering response.
And while Mitsubishi has made giant strides improving the refinement/reducing the NVH in the all-new Outlander, the drive route covered some very coarse bitumen – the type normally seen on Northern Territory roads – which did bring unusual tyre roar from the Aspire model with its 18-inch alloy wheels.
Apart from that coarse-chip bitumen tyre noise, our only other points deduction for the Mitsubishi Outlander is those front seats which lack squab length and so fall short in under-thigh support.
Mitsubishi needed the all-new Outlander to regain a foothold in the burgeoning mid-size SUV segment. The Japanese giant offers the ASX compact SUV segment – incidentally the ASX gets a diesel automatic version in 2013 – and of course the acclaimed Pajero in the large segment.
Moreover it needed the Outlander to appeal to the changing requirements of the mostly family buyers who proliferate in the segment.
So the fresh new look, more interior space and new engine lineup bring the Outlander up-to-date with its up-to-date rivals.
Where Mitsubishi has been super-smart with the all-new Outlander is pricing. The new 2.4-litre Aspire range-topper is almost $7,000 less than its V6-powered predecessor and even the entry-price of $28,990 undercuts the outgoing model by around $500.
Mazda CX-5 in diesel or petrol is now this segment’s benchmark. Priced from $27,880 (2.0 Maxx) to $46,680 (Grand Touring) the CX-5 is dynamic to drive and its 2.2-litre turbo-diesel is a pearler. No seven-seats however.
Honda’s all-new CR-V has just been launched, looks the part and is handily priced. It’s a Honda so the driving experience and quality are top-notch.
Also just launched, the all-new Subaru Forester brings all of the traditional Forester strengths to the table with a fresh new look inside and out. Typical Subaru driving dynamics and quality…don’t be surprised if Forester returns to the top of the sales charts in 2013.
And from the ‘Just About To Be Released’ department, we have the all-new Toyota RAV4 and Ford Kuga. Might be best to delay your purchase if possible to check-out these two newcomers from two of the world’s biggest brands.
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