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Test driving the Mitsubishi Outlander

Mitsubishi has heavily loaded the Outlander with accessories and features to make it one of the better equipped crossover SUVs around. — Pictures by YS KhongMitsubishi has heavily loaded the Outlander with accessories and features to make it one of the better equipped crossover SUVs around. — Pictures by YS KhongKUALA LUMPUR, June 29 — The Mitsubishi Outlander is currently the latest Japanese SUV to make it to our shores, and after a long absence, it is a welcome sight to some Mitsubishi lovers.

What we are getting in Malaysia is  actually the 2015 face-lifted version of the third generation Outlander which was introduced in 2013, but never made it to Malaysia.

With this face-lift, Mitsubishi has heavily loaded the Outlander with accessories and features to make it one of the better equipped crossover SUVs around.

For RM173+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 4 Cyl 4B12 engine is based on Mitsubishi’s EVO series and is very reliable.The 4 Cyl 4B12 engine is based on Mitsubishi’s EVO series and is very reliable.

When it was first launched here earlier in the year, I was quite impressed by its great looks, and after studying its specifications, on paper, at least, it looked like it could make an impression on the SUV segment. I did mention that I would be looking forward to a test drive, and I was duly invited to participate in the official test drive, which took us to Johor Baru and back.

The Outlander’s 2.4 litre DOHC power plant delivers 167 PS of power at 6,000 rpm, and maximum torque of 222 Nm at 4,100 rpm.

Drive is to all four wheels through an automatic AWD system that transfers drive to the front or to all four wheels as the need arises, through a 6-step CVT.

The CVT is obviously there to promote fuel efficiency, as is the electric power steering, and a body that has been lightened by approximately 200 kg; however, it seems to favour light-footed driving.

The Mitsubishi Outlander has a very car-like interior.The Mitsubishi Outlander has a very car-like interior.As long as you drive like an angel, you will find the Outlander pretty cool, but if you are in a hurry and push pedal to the metal, the CVT struggles — CVT’s generally have to work harder to overcome inertia, and the Outlander weighs in at a kerb weight of 1,530kg — with a medium load, the weight is around 1.8 tonnes, and as a result, the load shifts the CVT to high mechanical efficiency mode (i.e., more engine rpm required to build up speed) for a longer spate of time. Fuel consumption, driven sedately, under normal road conditions, was something between 10.8 to 11.9 litres per 100 kilometres.

Pushed hard, we only managed 14.7 litres per 100 kilometres. The conclusion here is that if you are the ‘normal’ driver type (which easily covers about 80 per cent of Malaysian drivers), the Outlander would serve you well. If you are like me (heavy-footed and like to drive at high speed), you might want to look somewhere else.

Other than that, the Outlander is a superb vehicle — it is quiet at normal cruising speeds, especially when the CVT has finished its ‘rubber band’ effect and is on the highest possible ratio.

The suspension system appears to be EVO inspired.The suspension system appears to be EVO inspired.

The suspension provides a comfortable ride, thanks to four wheel independent suspension provides by a strut arrangement at the front and a multi-link arrangement at the rear and coil springs all round.

All things considered, I would consider the Outlander as a good vehicle — it looks stylish, is comfortable, and technically it is up to date with what’s available in the market, and priced competitively.

Would I buy one? Not as yet — I have to wait till somebody develops a CVT that I can live with; considering how technology grows in leaps and bounds, maybe that day is not too far off.

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