It is evident that Mitsubishi is on a roll with introduction SUVs. The recently-introduced Eclipse Cross resurrects the nameplate of a discontinued sports car, while the Lancer Evolution could be revived as a sports SUV. With all said and done, there is no denying that the company certainly knows a thing or two about designing an SUV that looks the part.
Enter the Mitsubishi Outlander, a model that is primed to challenge the Honda CR-V, Mazda CX-5, Nissan X-Trail, Volkswagen Tiguan, Renault Koleos and Subaru Forester. No doubt that that the Outlander faces some really stiff competition.
Introduced back in September, the locally-assembled 2.0-litre version of the Outlander is a new variant of Mitsubishi's seven-seater SUV priced more affordably without compromising on safety equipment compared to the existing 2.4-litre fully-imported model.
With a listed price of RM139,988, is the Mitsubishi Outlander 2.0L worthy of your hard earned ringgit over the competitors? We recently sampled the new variant to Janda Baik and back.
The Mitsubishi Outlander may feature a nameplate that’s unfamiliar with folks here, but its history can be traced back to the Airtrek that was introduce way back in the early 2000s.
The model you’re seeing here is the third-generation Outlander that was first introduced in 2012, which received a heavy makeover in 2015, giving it the exterior we’re familiar with.
The Outlander first arrived in Malaysia in early 2016 as a fully-imported model powered by a 2.4-litre petrol engine; the new 2.0-litre model is assembled locally under contract by Tan Chong Motors Assembly (TCMA) in Segambut alongside the ASX.
By locally-assembling the Outlander 2.0, Mitsubishi Motors Malaysia hopes to capture even more market share as the price tag of RM139,988 is rather competitive, seeing that the base model includes seven airbags, electronic stability control, 18-inch alloy wheels, automatic halogen projector headlights, automatic wipers, dual-zone air-conditioning plus a head unit with Apple CarPlay.
Featuring Mitsubishi’s ‘Dynamic Shield’ design language which encompasses a large chrome grille that flows into the headlights, creating a face that’s actually very photogenic. No, really.
Even the rear end, with its standard LED taillights and just the right amount of chrome highlight gives the Outlander just the right amount of showroom appeal without appearing gaudy in any way. Mitsubishi definitely knows a thing or two about making a handsome SUV, right?
Also standard on all variants of the Outlander sold in Malaysia is the 18-inch alloy wheels, featuring an intricate design unlike its rivals with simpler looking wheels. We reckon the design of the wheels blend in extremely well with the rest of the Outlander.
Versus its bigger 2.4L sibling, the interior of the Outlander 2.0L is considerably more spartan. The base model makes do without the electric parking brake with auto brake hold, large floor console, paddle shifters, leather upholstery and a sun roof.
Despite the noticeable difference, the Outlander 2.0L still gets some niceties like the JVC head unit that incorporates a reverse camera and Apple CarPlay compatibility. Audio quality from the sound system is also commendable, hitting the right notes during our time with the Outlander.
Elsewhere, we also noticed that build quality of the Outlander 2.0L is on the positive side, as we did not notice any rattling or ill-fitted parts. We also appreciate MMM including a wide angle driving video recorder.
With all said and done, the interior of the Outlander, in both 2.0L and 2.4L flavours, lack rear air vents for the second and third row passengers, despite both models being seven seaters.
The Mitsubishi Outlander 2.0L shares its 2.0-litre powerplant with the ASX and Lancer, outputting 145 PS at 6,000 rpm and 196 Nm at 4,200 rpm. The sole transmission choice is a CVT that is hooked up to Mitsubishi’s 4WD system that sends power to all four wheels.
These figures are far from groundbreaking, but they do provide the Outlander 2.0L with sufficient grunt for most drivers. The CVT also does a decent job of mimicking a stepped automatic, though at full throttle the droning from the transmission is quite noticeable. That aside, the CVT in the Outlander is also outfitted with a six-step sport mode, which we found to be really useful when climbing up hills.
As mentioned earlier, the Outlander is fitted with 18-inch alloy wheels. Even with such a wheel size, ride comfort is commendable, as the Outlander does a swell job of soaking up most road irregularities. On much more rougher roads however, the ride can get a bit busy for my liking.
The electric power steering on the Outlander 2.0L is on the vague side in terms of feedback, but during our time with the SUV, we noticed that accuracy is decent enough. Even when we were busy tackling corners, the Outlander remained surefooted with minimal hints of body roll. Of course, we would advise against driving too enthusiastically in a family SUV.
Cabin comfort is also worth a mention on the Outlander, as Mitsubishi has done an excellent job of keeping the elements isolated from occupants of the Outlander. That, coupled with the surprisingly quiet engine does make the Outlander an excellent highway cruiser.
Elsewhere, Mitsubishi also made it a point to highlight their 4WD system, with three selectable modes - Eco Mode, Auto Mode and Lock Mode. For most drivers, Eco Mode is the ideal selection as torque is sent primarily to the front wheels. If the system detects that the loss of traction happens in the rear, torque will be distributed there. This mode offers the best balance between fuel consumption and optimizing traction.
With all said and done, the Mitsubishi Outlander 2.0L is a good choice if you're looking for a seven-seater SUV. As an alternative, the Toyota Innova also offers you seven-seater capacity at a much lower price, albeit with a less comfortable ride.
Then there's the Kia Sorento and Hyundai Santa Fe, both of which offers seven seats and rear air vents. On the road, both the Koreans command a RM15k to 20k premium over the Outlander, but compromises on practicality as they do not feature second row seats that tumble forward to ease ingress and egress into the third row seats.
In the styling department, the Outlander, in our opinion, is one of the more matured-looking SUVs out there. Granted, not everyone is a big fan of the excessive chrome on the front end, but there’s no denying that it helps the Outlander to stand out from the crowd.
The Outlander's most direct competition comes in the form of the Nissan X-Trail, but handicapped its offering of only two airbags versus the Outlander's seven. Further icing on the cake includes the earlier-mentioned electronic stability control, Hill Start Assist and reverse camera.
The Outlander's lack of rear air-con vents is a major oversight, particularly in our climate, but we believe that the full suite of seven airbags is far more critical, especially when it comes to a family SUV. When compared to the Korean rivals, the Outlander continues to trump the competition as it offers the best compromise between price and practicality. As for the earlier-mentioned Innova, the Outlander still inches ahead of the Toyota as the former offers a monococque chassis over the latter's ladder frame, bringing to the table superior handling and ride comfort.
So for those shopping for a seven-seater family SUV, the new Mitsubishi Outlander 2.0L should very well be on your shortlist to check out, if not seriously consider.