Mitsubishi’s medium sized SUV has grown considerably since it was released back in the mid noughties. Now looking nothing like the original donor car, the Lancer, it’s gone from a smallish, angular, almost “runt of the litter” look, (with a paltry four speed auto underneath), to a rounded off, handsome, male oriented look with its most recent update.
A Wheel Thing was bookmarked for the top of the range Exceed diesel, however a minor scheduling hiccup (ok, Mitsubishi needed it more than I did), saw a transfer into the mid range seven seater, the XLS, complete with 2.4L four cylinder petrol engine.
Normally we’d look at the engine first, however the most notable changes have been to the exterior so:
The changes are not insubstantial but are limited to the nose cone and tail light clusters. At the rear, the lights now spread across into the (non power operated) tail gate whilst the design has been modified slightly from before, sporting a “neon light” effect, plus a new chrome strip joins the two assemblies. The rear bumper has also been refined, with exhaust tips now integrated into the fairing for the top model, with the XLS retaining a single right hand exhaust underneath the redesigned bumper.
At the front, the bulbous and blobby look has been replaced; there’s chromework aplenty (a Japanese style change as Mitsubishi’s competitors have also gone the bright work look) contrasting with a blackout treatment between the now sharper edged headlights. The XLS sports LED driving lights around the reduced area and more angular cluster.
The bumper itself now has a sharper delineation horizontally, with two thickish chrome strips (rsembling a C on the left and mirror imaged on the driver’s side) bracketing a two bar grille and a centre aligned blackout. The outer edges have been reprofiled, holding onto the globelit driving lights there.
It’s more edgy and male oriented, it seems, tying in with the advertising.
In profile, there’s not much else to set the 2016 model apart from its immediate predecessor, apart, perhaps, from some too subtle to be noticed sheetmetal changes, however there’s a alloy look strip added to the lower extremities of the doors. Down below, there’s some attractive alloys, 18 inch diameter with 225/55 tyres, with a full sized spare available.
It’s Mitsubishi’s well proven 2.4L petrol four cylinder, with 124 kW and 220 metres of Mr Newton’s torque, at a high-ish 4200 revs. That rev point is crucial, as we’ll discuss later. Gearbox wise, it’s a CVT, with the now almost mandatory six program points. Power is put down through all four wheels and the car has a lockable centre differential should you choose to do a bit of off roading.
There’s a 60 litre tank for the donk to drink from and it’ll take almost any unleaded you can throw at it. Economy is rated by Mitsubishi as 7.2L per 100 kilometres on a combined cycle.
On The Inside.
Anyone having the 2013/14/15 model will immediately feel at home on the inside. A Mitsubishi strength has been ergonomics and there’s little to not like here. There’s the normal, chunky but not too chunky, steering wheel, the same design layout for the buttons for audio and Bluetooth, the dash with its full colour screen in between the dials and a piano black surround for the navitainment screen.
That sits atop the wonderfully simple layout for the aircon controls, a long standing highlight for the Outlander. Comprised of two round rocker switches for the driver and passenger’s zone for temperature, one for the fan speed and separate buttons for the rest, it’s a delight in its simplicity and utterly useful.
Mitsubishi’s website claims the XLS (and Exceed) have DAB (digital radio), I don’t recall seeing that on the screen. Navigation usage is simple, and best done when a vehicle is stationary, as certain required fields can’t be accessed with a vehicle in motion.
There’s seven seats, five for the main intended usage and two strap operated fold up/down seats in the rear, which doubles as a cargo area. With the rear seats up, there’s a mere 128 L; down, there’s 477 L. With the middle row folded flat, that jumps to 1608 L.
Plastics are of a somewhat more refined look and feel, with a general feeling of being a little higher class than before. The seats themselves have, in the XLS, a different cloth weave, however still feeling lacking is bolstering, side support, with lateral grip applied by the weave and not the cushions.
Ignition is key operated, in the XLS, with the Exceed getting keyless start and behind the tiller are paddle shifts.
On The Road.
Two very noticeable situations with the XLS in the week it was with A Wheel Thing. The torque the 2.4L generates may be fine with a hydraulic gearbox, offering reasonable if not scintillating, performance. That’s further dulled by the CVT, with overtaking on straights requiring a lot of prior planning and hoping another vehicle wouldn’t suddenly appear coming the other way. The other was the surprising amount of lack of front end grip on damp roads.
The XLS was showcased by taking it south of Sydney to the beautiful seaside town of Kiama for a weekend. There were two trips further south to Nowra, accessed by the Pacific Highway, with some stunning views and long sweeping curves. As, at the time of review, Sydney had been inundated with constant rain, the roads were wet, to say the least. In areas where the roads were signposted at a certain speed, there was unexpected understeer, to the point that velocities were reduced to levels under what would normally have been expected. This, from all four corners being driven and all three AWD modes being selected, just in case.
The actual steering ratio feels to be between 3.5 to 4 turns, lock to lock.
On dry roads, that understeer all but disappeared, leading to speculation that the tyres weren’t in harmony with the steering under the wet circumstances. The dry weight of the car is 1535 kg, towing capacity is 1600 kg; with four aboard plus fuel let’s call it two tonnes to haul around. Peak torque at over 4000 revs just doesn’t suit the CVT and the XLS’ intended usage, I certainly don’t believe any exuberant off road work would…well, work.
Ride quality was taut, without being jolting, with just the right balance of compliance before tightening up. It’s a flat ride, for the most part, minimal body roll with dive and rear end squat under acceleration invisible. Acceleration itself, with four aboard and not really a great deal of luggage, was spartan in its appeal. Full pedal movement had the Outlander under way with a leisurely stride, with no real hurry to see the needle move around the dial. Braking, on the other hand, started with one of the best balanced and modulated pedals around, with a bite, enough to give confidence, as soon as the pedal was pushed and stayed progressive through its travel.
The Outlander range certainly has the appearance of having lost weight, visually, by reducing the roundness front and rear. The sharper edges to the headlights, to the front trim and the extension of the rear lights into the tailgate give a semblance of flattening the Outlander and providing a more assertive look.
The interior is still a delight in its ergonomic usefulness, it’s certainly corfortable enough (lack of side support, not withstanding) and on dry roads grips like a limpet. The wet drive performance in corners, well….and that lacklustre engine dull down the experience too much.
Pricing will vary depending on your location and insurer, according to Mitsubishi’s online price calculator but figure on around the $40K mark driveaway. It will be interesting to finally sample the diesel but from previous experience we don’t anticipate the dearth of life the 2.4L petrol has.
Go here: http://www.mitsubishi-motors.com.au/vehicles/outlander/specifications/outlander-2-4l for details on the 2.4L range.
Engine: 2.4L, four cylinder.
Fuel: 90RON unleaded and above.
Power/Torque: 124 kW/220 Nm @ 6000/4200 rpm.
Transmission: Constant Variable Transmission, with six preprogrammed ratios.
Economy: 7.6L/100 km (no other figures available).
Seating: seven, two rear fold down, 60/40 split fold middle row.
Dimensions (L x W X H in mm): 4695 x 1810 x 1640.
Wheelbase/Ride Height: 2670 mm/ 190 mm (unladen).
Weight (dry): 1535 kg.
Cargo: 128L/477L/1608L depending on seating configuration.
Service/Warranty: refer to the Mitsubishi website for terms and conditions.