Mitsubishi Outlander delivers
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To call a car dependable sounds a bit like I’m damning it with faint praise. Work boots are dependable. A ballpoint pen that keeps going and going is dependable. Timothy Spall is dependable.
But a car? A dependable car is the rental you drove around the South Island last summer on holiday.
Thing is though, that’s exactly how I’d describe Mitsubishi’s long-serving Outlander. It is dependable.
Like the proverbial faithful family dog? Well, yes. But a pedigree one. Let me explain.
Since its introduction to the Mitsubishi line-up a decade ago, the Outlander has represented consistent value for money.
It’s also notable for its cavernous interior room. Mitsubishi’s tape measure-wielding engineers sorted the packaging from the get-go; plenty of space and a flexible moving rear bench, with a handy third row of seats for all grades, too.
The Outlander range also offers a pleasing degree of engine choice and trim specification, the option of premium stereo systems, all topped with nicely designed exterior styling that gives the model the air of something that should cost more to buy than it does.
It’s dependable in infecting the neighbours with the green-eyed monster virus, in other words. Every grade features detailed 18-inch machined alloy wheels, meaning the car looks like the handsome family load-lugger it is, even in base LS trim.
The Outlander VRX I drove also features extras such as a sunroof, electric-opening tailgate, dual-zone air conditioning, automatic high-beam headlights and adaptive cruise control.
2017 Mitsubishi Outlander.
You’re not scrimping elsewhere in the range, though. The Outlander’s generously proportioned cabin features technology such as a 7-inch touch screen with Smartphone Link (meaning you can bring your mobile phone apps and address book up on the central screen), Bluetooth hands-free calling and a reversing camera.
Every Outlander features seven airbags on-board, a keyless entry and start system, multi-function steering wheel, silver-look roof rails, Blind Spot Warning, rain-sensing wipers, LED Daytime Running Lamps and — in XLS and VRX models — LED fog lamps.
Diesel, petrol and (gasp) plug-in petrol/electric hybrid are all available; surely meaning the wider Outlander line-up has the most comprehensive drivetrain offering of any SUV model on the Kiwi market.
There are also front- and four-wheel drive Outlanders available; the all-paw SUV being a favourite. The system is automatic, meaning it senses slip beneath the wheels and adjusts grip between front or both axles accordingly.
It also has 4WD Lock functionality. With a reasonable 224Nm of torque on offer from the 2.4-litre petrol I tested, it’s not surprising that many Outlanders are used for towing.
Mitsubishi claims combined fuel economy for the Outlander VRX 4WD of 7.2-litres/100km, which is good for a medium SUV with the potential to carry seven on-board, although I couldn’t achieve anywhere near that during my time with the vehicle.
Whatever the real-world figure, Mitsubishi has worked to make its mass-market SUV option more efficient.
A number of engineering solutions are at play here; high tensile steel body work, but with lighter components (such as the suspension system) make the current Outlander lighter overall than its predecessor.
You can also opt for an EcoMode setting, which works to finesse gear shift patterns and acceleration to provide for smoother engine operation; handy when out-and-out power isn’t a priority, such as in commuter traffic.
There’s more than just good looks behind those chrome strips that frame the grille, too; the Outlander is particularly slippery for an SUV, letting resistant air wash over it easily at speed, meaning the engine doesn't have to work as hard on the open road.
Some of this efficiency is up to the driver of course: at the end of the day it’s still down to the foot on the accelerator to determine how the vehicle performs.
2017 Mitsubishi Outlander.
To help with this, the Outlander features an Eco Drive Support System, which shows drivers how they are performing with the help of a bar graph and even gives an Eco Score, using real-time information to help the driver improve on driving efficiencies.
The display in the instrument panel shows a plant with five leaves; the more economical the driving, the more leaves light up. It’s gimmicky but, human nature being what it is, I quickly fell into the habit of checking my leaf score.
So, a decade on, the Outlander remains noticeable for a heap of choice within the model range and a premium-feel feature-set, but is still usable and practical enough for the Saturday sports run.
There's plenty of room for the dependable family dog in the boot, too.
2.0-litre, four-cylinder petrol MIVEC (112kW/193Nm), 2.4-litre, four-cylinder petrol MIVEC (126kW/224Nm), 2.3-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel (112kW/366Nm), 2.0-litre D4 MPI VVT petrol (88kw/189Nm) with twin Permanent Magnetic Synchronous electric motors (60kW/137Nm)
$32,990 (2.0 LS 2WD), $43,990 (2.0 XLS 2WD and 2.4 LS 4WD), $47,490 (2.4 XLS 4WD), $49,990 (2.3D XLS 4WD), $54,490 (2.4 VRX 4WD), $56,990 (2.3D VRX 4WD), $59,990 (PHEV XLS 4WD), $66,990 (PHEV VRX 4WD)
PRO: Good looks and plenty of room, wide variety of drivetrain and trim choices
CON: Lots of other options in the medium-sized SUV market