Mitsubishi’s Outlander: Comfy and flexible.

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Yes yes yes, oh YES: comfy seats, loads of kit, 7 seats

Oh dear me no: floaty drive, CVT in petrol model, a bit pricey

We drove the ASX recently, then the Outlander straight after. it is often a mistake to take an older model before a newer model. It has the effect of making the old model feel very old and the new model feel very new. It’s hard to not compare them directly. For the money, the Outlander is better value but the top “Exceed” is going to be around 50 grand drive away so is no small amount.

I’m not in love with the looks but it is neat and tidy with loads of chrome. However, the angular front end somehow doesn’t match the side profile. I’m not sure what it is but it just doesn’t look right. It not unattractive as such, it just doesn’t appeal to me. I’d probably get used to it in time.

Outlander comes in 2 and 4WD versions and has an option of 7 seats. True, many of us will never need the second row of seats let alone a third row, but it is handy just in case of sundry hangers-on. I can imagine my MIL in back. Still, it’s not far enough back to mute the whinging from grumblers. The Exceed is extremely quiet on the road, particularly after the noisy ASX. Our 110kw 2.4 diesel hardly rated a mention noise-wise. It only became raucous when pushed hard where it’s a touch intrusive.

As in all SUVs, I would never bother with the limp 2WD versions. It saves weight and fuel, but, just why, oh why, oh why? If I am going to have the SUV shape I want the SUV capability. I stress the 4WD is very handy. There is a sense you can go places a normal wagon can’t. Whether or not you can is another matter. True 4WDs have high/low range gears and locking hubs and diffs. This 4WDs get only some of this. You only find out that you need them when it’s too late. That muddy lane can suddenly overwhelm a 2WD system and believe me, pushing a car up to your bollocks in muck is not a fun time. We didn’t try Outlander off-road but there is decent ground clearance. Only and off-road test is going to show how capable she really is.

Exceed gets a large glass roof which opens, hoorah, and an impressive list of safety inclusions like: auto emergency braking, smart cruise control, hill start assist and of course the ubiquitous airbags and electronic nannies like ABS, ASC, ATC, EBD, and ESS. I was surprised there was no blind spot and lane departure warning but perhaps they’ll come in due course. Smart key entry is my favourite gadget these days. Entering the cabin and starting the car without fumbling for keys is brilliant. Mitsubishi’s claims of “luxury” are a little overstated, and should read “comfy and well-appointed” instead. The audio system sounds great but has not yet received the Apple Carplay unit. This is very disappointing considering it is in the Triton.

I like the power tailgate too. It is a bit of fluff but makes like just a touch easier especially small a smaller statured driver.

The drive is not as engaging as I’d like. The ride is very good, but the steering feels a bit woolly. I often find steering on SUVs a bit woolly. It’s a combination of a tall vehicle on big wheels, 18” in this case, and thick tyres to cope with stones and sand and mud and so forth. It’s smooth and quiet, but won’t be breaking any speed records any time soon. If you like comfort you won’t be disappointed.

Our test car had the 3rd row of seats. I’d not opt for them because I’d rather have the extra space instead. All folding seats take up space but at least Outlander folds fairly flat. You could snooze in it if you’re really desperate. Mitsubishi say you can rearrange the seats in many ways but we didn’t give this a go. It might be worth investigating if you like to carry awkward things (other than the MIL).

My other half (also called “ ‘im indoors” and “he who must be obeyed”) wasn’t all that fussed on Outlander. He said it wasn’t butch enough. The 9yo we look after from time to time also rates the cars. His rating is called “ollie-Approved” and is a rating system only another 9yo can understand. It has something to do with coolness, colour and whether or not the roof opens. The Outlander is “Ollie-Approved” due to its roof. For the record, all convertibles, and most sun-roofed cars, get the Ollie-Approved rating. V8’s also get a mention as do most Audis, Jags, BMWs and Benzes. The kid has expensive taste.

Conclusion: I like the Outlander. I don’t love it, but I like it. The drive is quite and smooth and the ride can almost be described as sumptuous. It is roomy and well-appointed, but a little pricey for a car this size. You’d save dosh by buying a similar size in a regular wagon. The fuel figures are OK but nothing really leapt out at me one way or the other for mention. For the first time I am left with no feeling about a vehicle tested one way or the other. This probably means it didn’t offend but just wasn’t for me. Rather than say “would I buy it; yes or no” I am going to say “It is a decent drive so make up your own mind”.

Engine: 2.2L turbo diesel (also 2.0 and 2.4L petrol)

Power: 110kw/360Nm (also 110kw/190Nm and 124kw/220Nm

Trans: 6 sp auto (also CVT and 5 sp manual)

Price: from $28,490 to $46,490 plus on-roads

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