Mitsubishi Outlander: First Drive Review
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Does keeping the new Mitsubishi Outlander a petrol-only offering as before make sense? More importantly, will it be able to make its mark in the crowded midsize SUV space?
In the recent past, we’ve seen several nameplates making a comeback in the Indian market. It started with the Baleno, which was followed by the Accord and more recently, the Civic as well. Now, it is time for Mitsubishi, an automaker which has been pretty much dormant here since the downfall of the Lancer, to bring back the Outlander SUV.
The Mitsubishi Outlander is making a comeback after almost half a decade of absence, once again in a petrol avatar. But, can the petrol-only third-gen Outlander turn around the fortunes of the nameplate in the country?
A quick recap of the Mitsubishi Outlander: The second-gen model was discontinued from India in early 2013 as it was being phased out globally. The second-gen Outlander met with initial success, but sales quickly plunged due to the dominance of diesel-powered SUVs.
Pictured: Second-gen Mitsubishi Outlander Facelift
The third-gen model was unveiled at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show, but it was never introduced in India.
Pictured: Third-gen Mitsubishi Outlander Pre-Facelift
Now, as the market share of petrol powered SUVs, in fact, of petrol cars as a whole, is gradually increasing, Mitsubishi has chosen to launch the third-gen facelift version that debuted at the 2015 New York Motor Show as a 2016 model.
How does it look?
The Mitsubishi Outlander always had a dramatic face and the third-gen facelift is no different. While the second-gen Outlander came with Mitsubishi's then ‘Jet Fighter’ nose, the upcoming one debuts the ‘Dynamic Shield’ design language. The ‘X’ design element that you see up front made its debut with this model and is offered with all Mitsubishi cars, including the new upcoming Mitsubishi Pajero Sport.
The Outlander’s grille does a good job of adding a distinct characteristic; it cannot be mistaken for anything else on the road. Compared to the front, things kind of mellow down as you move towards the side. The Outlander gets the same 16-inch wheels (215/70 R16) it did in 2010. Needless to say, they look small and dated, especially with midsize and full size SUVs offering 17- or 18-inch wheels.
Even the design of the alloys, is a little bland and we feel Mitsubishi should have offered the machined 18-inch wheels (225/55R18) available in other markets.
The rear profile features simpler wrap-around tail lamps and a dual-tone bumper like the second-gen model.
Overall, the Mitsubishi Outlander isn’t exciting enough to turn heads, but it is surely not boring to look at, especially from the front.
What’s on offer inside?
The Outlander now comes standard with three row of seats, which was optional earlier. It features an all-black cabin instead of the dual-tone beige and black from earlier. The dark themed interior might not be to everybody's taste, but I, personally, like all-black cabins. In case you’re wondering if this setup will make the Outlander’s cabin claustrophobic, rest assured that's not the case. The headliner and pillars are upholstered in beige fabric which along with the sunroof makes the cabin feel airier.
The dashboard layout of the Outlander facelift is familiar. In fact, it has been around since 2013. It doesn’t look dated, but isn’t particularly attractive either compared its prime rival, the upcoming fifth-gen Honda CR-V. Actually, the big, boxy driver-oriented section that surrounds the steering wheels looks a bit old school and is reminiscent of previous-gen Audis.
Though the overall fit and finish is good, like before, the gloss black centre section looks a bit flimsy and even squeaks when touched. Speaking of gloss black finish, Mitsubishi has used it a bit too generously around the centre console leaving it prone to scratches. The top layer of the dashboard, on the other hand, is padded and is soft to touch. It runs through the doors as well.
The front seats are quite supportive and offer the right amount of firmness and bolstering. The driver’s seat is electronically adjustable and the steering is adjustable for both reach and rake. So, finding a comfortable driving position is fairly easy. Also, like an SUV, the Outlander gives you a commanding view of the road ahead as you sit quite high.
Though spacious, the second row of seating offers limited under-thigh support. It can be 60:40 split folded and you also get a centre armrest with cup holders here.
Although the third row is better than the slim jump type seats offered before, it is still strictly for children as you sit with your knees folded high. Even the ingress is a bit tricky as the second row doesn’t lift up like the majority of vehicles that offer three-row seating.
Like before, the third row is removable and folds as well to free up room for luggage.
The climate control unit of the Outlander is very effective and offers dual-zone control (left and right sections of the vehicle). It cools down the cabin quickly, or the first two rows at least. Though you don't get central console mounted vents in the middle row, it does come with foot level vents. The third row, on the other hand, has one more drawback besides limited space - it doesn’t come with any sort of vents and that could make life difficult on hot days.
Is it well loaded?
The second-gen Outlander was a trendsetter in the midsize SUV segment as it offered class-leading features such as high-intensity discharge (HID) headlamps with an adaptive front-lighting system, LED tail lamps, auto folding outside rearview mirrors and a powerful Rockford Fosgate music system with a 6 CD changer. But that was 2010 and the upcoming Mitsubishi Outlander doesn’t bring anything new to the table. While the previous model outdid its rivals with its overall packaging and features, it seems that the new one is just trying to stay afloat amongst cut-throat competition.
The HID headlamps are now replaced by an auto-twin LED projector setup and it has also received daytime running LEDs. The fog lamps are LEDs too and so are the tail lamps.
It also comes with a sunroof, dual-zone climate control, rain-sensing wipers, cruise control, electronic parking brake and passive keyless entry with push-button engine start/stop. The driver’s seat is power adjustable and the front seats offer heating function. However, given India’s tropical climate, front seat ventilation would have made more sense.
Coming to the infotainment system, the 6.1-inch touchscreen unit is a let down frankly. To start with, it is a resistive touchscreen. Resistive touch-based screens are almost obsolete now with no one except Renault and now Mitsubishi offering these. Even the Maruti Suzuki Swift or the Hyundai Grand i10 come with a comparatively responsive capacitive-based touchscreen (just like smartphones).
As is the case with resistive touchscreens, the Outlander’s infotainment display also has glare and looks whitish in direct sunlight as such units have a layer over the actual screen which plays a spoilsport. And because of the low-res screen, the rear camera display isn’t that great and it also doesn’t get dynamic guidelines. However, what makes you forget a little about the old-school screen, and is the saving grace here, is the Outlander’s powerful, class-leading 710W Rockford Fosgate sound system, which was also available before.
The sound system has a subwoofer placed in the boot that provides deep bass. However, you have limited options to enjoy this brilliant Rockford Fosgate system as it doesn’t come with Bluetooth phone integration. Yes, you read that right! It is a glaring miss, to say the least. Even the cheapest car in India, the Tata Nano, features Bluetooth calling and audio playback! Seriously, Mitsubishi?
You can play music either through USB or CD or, of course, through the radio. In our opinion, Mitsubishi should have offered their latest 7-inch capacitive touch-based infotainment system which also comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, especially when it is offered on the Outlander outside India.
What’s under the bonnet?
The third-generation Outlander carries forward the same 2.4-litre MIVEC naturally aspirated petrol engine mated to a CVT (continuously variable transmission) with 6-step paddle shift operation. The power figures of this engine are similar to that of the outgoing model and like before, there’s no manual on offer either. Mitsubishi is yet to announce the certified fuel efficiency figure of the Outlander, but it is expected to be around 12kmpl, same as the outgoing CR-V’s, which also features an optional 2.4-litre petrol engine (190PS/226Nm).
CVT with paddle shifters
CVT with paddle shifters
The Outlander is also available with a diesel engine in select countries like Australia. For reference, the Mitsubishi Outlander diesel is powered by a 2.2-litre engine (same as the second-gen model) that puts out 150PS and 360Nm of torque, paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission. It also features paddle shifters like petrol.
So what’s it like to drive?
As you would expect from a big naturally aspirated petrol engine, the Outlander pulls linearly; the power delivery is quite consistent and is available across the rev range. Despite being longer and wider than the second-gen model thanks to the standard three-row configuration, the third-gen Outlander weighs 13kg lesser, at 1602kg. It doesn’t feel sluggish at all, as was the case with the previous model. But that doesn't mean that the Mitsubishi SUV is quick, it just has ample power to do the job.
Being a petrol-only offering, the Mitsubishi Outlander’s cabin is understandably quieter compared to the pool of diesel-powered SUVs. This is certainly something Mitsubishi’s clientele would seek with the Outlander, as has been the case with the Honda CR-V in all these years.
If you’re a little enthusiastic on the throttle, you’ll be greeted with the droning noise of the CVT and the motor. Though you would be able to feel the progress, the CVT makes you feel that the engine is making extra efforts to keep up the momentum under such situations.
To add a bit of enthusiasm, the Outlander comes with column-mounted paddle shifters as before. There's no button to switch to manual mode, however, a simple pull of the paddle shifters in the regular D mode switches the CVT to manual. Compared to the D mode, progress is clearly more spirited in the manual as the CVT holds on to revs for longer, as the needle approaches the redline. The rubber-band effect too is comparatively subdued in the manual mode. To switch back to D mode, you just have to keep the + paddle pulled for a few seconds.
Drive it sedately and you start appreciating the Mitsubishi Outlander. It carries forward the brilliant ride quality traits of its predecessor. The ride is absorbent as it rarely lets undulations into the cabin. That’s also largely because of its tyres (Yokohama Geolandar ), which have a thick sidewall thanks to 215/70 cross-section (same as before). You’ll love driving it around the city and its quieter cabin enhances the entire experience.
The steering feels weighted at city speeds and even at standstill as well, giving an impression of driving something big. However, many will find that to be a downside as it’s more on the heavy side. Also, the Outlander does have a bit of body roll, but given in its size and weight, it isn’t too significant.
The Outlander, in India, comes standard with an all-wheel-drive setup. By default, it is in the 4WD Auto mode in which the system automatically analyses the road and driving conditions and splits the torque between the front and rear wheels. It packs two other modes as well, 4WD Lock and 4WD Eco. A press of the drive selector button on the central console lets you switch between these.
In the 4WD Lock, the system becomes rear biased and feeds more torque to the rear wheels. In the 4WD ECO, on the other hand, the torque is primarily sent to the front wheels, while if there’s any slippage, the system automatically splits the torque between the two axles.
With a healthy ground clearance of 190mm and an L mode (less speed, more torque) with its CVT, the Outlander can do mild off-roading or tackle a rough tarmac without breaking a sweat. Of course, don’t expect it to be as tough as its ladder-frame-based sibling, the Pajero Sport.
Being imported in the country, there’s no denying that the Mitsubishi Outlander will be among the priciest SUVs in its space. With an expected price of around Rs 30 lakh (ex-showroom), the Outlander is going to be dearer than even the outgoing CR-V (Rs 24.39 lakh - Rs 26.68 lakh). However, it is a relatively newer product and offers more compared to the Honda (until the new-gen arrives later this year) at this point in time.
Sure there are shortcomings in the Outlander such as the substandard infotainment system, ordinary looking cabin and, of course, the expected steeper sticker price. That said, the market’s gradual shift towards petrol offerings coupled with the Outlander’s brilliant ride quality and NVH levels, it could find some takers. If you’re in the market for a petrol-powered midsize SUV, do look out for the Outlander.