Steve Sharpe drives Mitsubishi’s new model 4x4
Mitsubishi’s Outlander has been around for quite a while now, making a name for itself as a rugged offroader with decent manners on the tarmac.
This year Mitsubishi has given the big SUV a makeover, providing a new look and making the whole thing greener and more economical.
It’s also 100kg lighter than the previous model, improving efficiency, and the 2.2litre diesel engine has been cleaned up to give the best fuel economy and emissions figures of any of its key competitors in the seven-seat 4x4 segment.
It’s also been designed to accommodate the company’s hybrid technology, which features in the PHEV hybrid Outlander which is due to make its debut later this summer.
Versatility is the key word here – this new Outlander is being touted as a 4x4 that can handle off-road duties or tricky weather conditions with ease, yet still be a driveable, everyday car that can do all a family estate can.
It’s also important that running costs are kept low.
The new look suits the Outlander. It looks good, with a particularly striking front end and attractive boomerang-styles rear headlight clusters.
There’s a load of room inside. Apart from the entry-level model, the rest of the Outlander range are seven-seater models, with two folded away in the rear boot section.
There is plenty of headroom and legroom in the front five seats and the fold-down two extra rear seats are big enough for children or adults on shorter trips.
With the seats folded flat in the rear there are acres of luggage space and even with them in upright position there is still a decent amount of room behind them.
The range is powered by a 2.2-litre diesel engine which is a strong performer.
It’s powerful in lower gears, although in the automatic version I drove there was a slight hesitation before acceleration from a standing start, which could be a little disconcerting when pulling out in a gap in the traffic. But aside from that the gearbox itself was slick and well geared.
The engine pulls well through the gears and the big 4x4 overtakes well enough.
It’s a big, long vehicle but it handles well around town – the steering’s light but well -weighted but you’ll have to wistfully pass up a few spaces in the car park due to its size.
Still, the version I drove had a rear camera and sensors to help out.
The Outlander’s suspension soaks up the worst of the potholes and mounds on the road, and the ride is comfortable.
That softened suspension means that there is a bit of body roll around corners, but 18-inch alloys grip the tarmac well in response.
The engine roars a bit if you really push it but in normal use it’s well hushed.
There’s hardly any rumble coming though from the road either, and although there’s a bit of whistling coming in from the wind blasting around the bodywork, it makes for a comfortable travelling experience. Take it on a long trip and you’ll be happy enough to sit back and relax.
Inside the cabin is smart and functional, although some of the buttons are tucked away and you need to do a bit of exploring before venturing out.
The gauges are clear and everything is pretty well laid out.
The plastics used are OK and look hardwearing but it does lack the “premium” feel that Mitsubishi was hoping for.
Things are lifted by the inclusion of some black and silver inserts, though, and the seats are big and comfortable and covered in an attractive soft leather.
The sat-nav / media centre can be a little difficult to use on the move, with a combination of actual buttons and small touch-screen icons to work out.
The Outlander has cars like Kia’s Sorento, the Honda CR-V and Hyundai Santa Fe in its sights and is priced to be a rival.
There’s a big difference between the entry-level model at £23,000 and the top-of-the-range Outlander at more than ten grand more, but you get a lot of equipment the further up you go.
The entry-level GX2 provides automatic lighting and coming-home headlights, six-speaker stereo, cruise control and single-zone air con.
Step up a trim for to GX3 to give you dual-zone climate control, automatic wipers, Bluetooth and alloy wheels.
GX4 trim adds keyless entry and start, electrically adjustable leather seats, a reversing camera and parking sensors, while GX5s also come with adaptive cruise control, a lane departure warning system and a DAB radio.
All versions come with an impressive list of safety and security features , including stability control and seven airbags, plus there are more available further up like an enthusiastic lane departure warning, radar cruise control and a collision mitigation system (which applies the brakes automatically if it senses an impending crash).
The Outlander has also received the full five stars in Euro NCAP crash tests.
This new version of the Outlander is a big improvement on the outgoing model, both in looks and performance.
Its impressive economy figures put it at the top of the pile in its class, which is a big selling point these days.
It’s a car that can handle itself when the going gets tough but it’s driveable enough for everyday travel.
There’s a lot of competition in this SUV sector but the Outlander is a likeable 4x4 that is getting better all the time.
Engine: 2.2litre petrol.
Transmission: Six-speed auto.
0-60: 11.7 secs.
Top speed: 118mph.