Mitsubishi Outlander – Latest Entry into the Cross-Over SUV market
The Mitsubishi Outlander launched recently by Mitsubishi Motors Malaysia was actually launched in 2013, and what we have got here now is the face-lifted version that was launched at the end of 2015, so for all practical intents and purposes, it can be considered a new model. Based on the Grandis platform, the Outlander is the third generation model since its initial introduction in 2001 as the Mitsubishi Airtrek. Those motoring enthusiasts who have driven the Mitsubishi Airtrek would have many fond memories – that 2.0 litre engine with a turbo charger, de-tuned a little from the Mitsubishi Lancer EVO of World Rally Championship fame was what gave the Airtrek plenty of power, and although fuel consumption wasn’t its best friend, the power made up for it all.
The Mitsubishi Outlander is fitted with the 2.4 litre 4B12 engine, which is derived from the 2.0-litre engine found in the Lancer and Proton Inspira, but bored out by 2 mm to 88mm, and stroked to 97mm to derive the additional 0.4 litre displacement. This is the same engine that is found in the Grandis. As a point in passing, the 4B12 is what Mitsubishi calls its ‘world engine’, and can be found in certain Hyundai, Chrysler and Citroen vehicles. Equipped with Mitsubishi’s MIVEC (read as variable valve timing), and carrying an aluminium alloy block, the 4B12 has been in production since 2007 and is highly reliable.
In order to keep up with the competition, Mitsubishi have loaded the Outlander with the latest tech available, in terms of features and specifications to make it one of the best value for money SUVs available in the Malaysian market.
For RM 173+k, you get a seven-seater, 2.4 litre power, a six-speed CVT with paddle shifters, Active Stability Control (ASC) with Traction Control (TC), Hill Start Assist (HSA), seven airbags, a touchscreen audio with reverse camera, electric tailgate, LED lights with DRL, Multi-Select 4WD system and alloy rims. In addition, you get leather seats all round, and an 8-way electrically adjustable seat for the driver.
The Autoworld editorial team took the Mitsubishi Outlander for a test drive, and we share our views with our readers here.
In terms of power, the 167 PS of power delivered by the Outlander should be enough for the majority of people who are likely to buy it. As a naturally aspirated engine, the torque is actually quite commendable at 222 Nm, and again it should be enough for most people.
The weakness, I feel, would be the CVT (Constantly Variable Transmission), which gives the Outlander a ‘rubber band’ effect upon hard acceleration. Because of the inherent mass of 1,530 kg kerb weight, and close to 1.8 tons when loaded up with three passengers and a bit of camera equipment, overcoming inertia is the biggest problem – the transmission steps down while the engine revs up, and it takes forever for the speed to catch up. Bearing in mind of course, that when the speed eventually catches up, or when you ease off on the throttle, the CVT reverts to the highest possible gear ratio to give you better fuel economy.
From my research, there is a 6-speed automatic available elsewhere in the world for the Outlander, but the powers that be have selected the CVT for Malaysia. Here’s the deal – if you are like the 80 percent of drivers in the world who drive sedately for 80 percent of the time in the city, the CVT would probably be the better bet – it will definitely be more economical on fuel. However if you are like me, who likes to put pedal to the metal most of the time, then look at something else to purchase.
Mitsubishi obviously also tried to mitigate the fuel consumption by other means – they have lightened the chassis by 200kg through using high tensile steel in the body – it is by no means any less safe, as is a RISE (Reinforced Impact Safety Evolution) body. In addition, Mitsubishi have put in an electric power steering system, and a Multi-Select 4WD system that allows the user to select one of three modes – 4WD ECO, that provides drive mostly to the front, with the rear engaged only when necessary; 4WD AUTO, which is useful for wet conditions, as this mode optimises the power split between front and rear wheels; and 4WD LOCK, which is equivalent to full 4WD, great for off-road conditions.
We did take it for a little bit of an off-road excursion, and therefore can vouch that it would be very suitable for any minor off-road use that you might need the Outlander for. Zachary Ho took the Outlander off-road to test its capabilities and he commented that it held up well with enough torque in the low rev range and ground clearance to get through some rough and muddy terrain. The 190 mm ground clearance gives it excellent off-road performance. As he was alone and didn’t have enough courage, his off-roading was on the milder side. Also, our test car wasn’t equipped with proper off-road tyres. Anyway, it is probably more than what most Outlander owners would put their own vehicles through.
For our drive, fuel consumption ranged from 10.8 to 11.9 litres per 100 kilometres when driven sedately; pushing the Outlander hard can be quite expensive – we could see the fuel consumption numbers going up to as high as 14.7 litres per 100 kilometres. The six-step CVT never could get up to its top level, so clearly the Outlander is not for one who is always in a hurry. But the paddle shifters are still a nice feature to have.
Overall comfort is pretty good – the four wheel independent suspension, made up of MacPherson struts and a multi-link rear with coil springs all round, is very similar to that found on the Lancer EVO, but with stronger and larger members. Thus overall handling, thanks to Mitsubishi’s rally experience in building suspension systems, is pretty good.
All things said and done, we think that there is a place for the Outlander in the hearts of many Malaysian users – those who want a robust but comfortable SUV with loads of features, those who want a safe and reliable vehicle with a proven engine, and those who want a vehicle that is good value for money.