Following on the heels of a test drive of an Outlander PHEV, which really impressed me, I took the opportunity to test a diesel Outlander when one became available. Comparisons are odious things but obviously two similar vehicles from the same maker with entirely different power plants are going to provide an interesting review. Especially when the second one is powered by a frugal, but quite powerful diesel engine that pulls like a tractor.
The Outlander changed shape in 2012. A softer, more rounded model took the place of the previous Evo inspired wagon with its impressive grille and drop-down rear loading gate but things seldom stay the same in the automotive world, so Mitsubishi have followed suit with their Outlander, which is still maintaining strong sales.
The reality is that when it comes to small SUV-style wagons, the Outlander fills a lot of desired categories. Excellent on the road, not too bad off the road either so long as there’s ample ground clearance and owners understand their vehicle’s limitations. An Outlander is not a Pajero afterall.
These days Outlander buyers are spoilt for choice. There’s a seven seater variant, a five seater, choice of petrol, diesel or the new PHEV hybrid electric set up and there’s no question that all models do a very good job of transporting a family to and from school, work, or some fun on the weekend.
For 2014 Mitsubishi has offered additional fruit: there are now 18” wheels on all models and safety features now include automatic lights and wipers on the LS model, as reviewed. Active Stability Control, braking wheels where necessary to prevent slides in corners once over steer or under steer is detected, is also standard. Seven air bags, Hill Start Control, Active Traction Control, and ABS all ensure the 2014 Outlander has earned a five star ANCAP rating.
By no means a poverty pack, the LS equipped with its four cylinder 2.2L diesel engine came with a six speed auto, blue tooth with voice control, paddle shifters on the steering column, touch screen audio system with rear view camera, cruise control, climate air, electric functions throughout and plenty of interior room for a family of five.
Interior finish was excellent thanks to a smooth blend of fabrics and colour toning, head and front seat room was never in short supply and even rear passengers were well catered for so far as leg and head room was concerned.
As an aside, when the 2012 model revamp was being arranged Mitsubishi went to some trouble to tune the new car’s suspension for our Australian roads with the result that the harshness of previous model’s ride and handling has gone and passenger pampering seems to come first. And while the rear cargo area might be a tad reduced these days, the second row of seats fold flat in a single motion for extra convenience to accommodate longer cargo items.
The LS diesel was an interesting vehicle.
As an all wheel drive model, the options so far as driving was concerned were Eco, which sees the engine doing it hard in the higher gears; just too frugal on the revs, Auto 4x4, which will see front wheel drive most times with just a bit of extra traction from the rear when some wheel slip is detected by the traction control system, and 4x4 Lock, which is exactly that - all four wheels driving when slippery roads or forest trails, even a bit of beach are on the list of must do things for the day. Driving mode selection is via a dial on the console.
With its turbo charged engine turning out 110kw of power, an outstanding 360Nm of torque, the diesel Outlander was never short of power and from 1,500rpm onwards it felt very strong and unbreakable. All that torque ensures rapid take off at the traffic lights, easy overtaking of slower vehicles on the highway and the ability to tow 2 tonnes of braked trailer, which will see quite a few pleasure boats with a trailer on the Outlander’s tow bar.
On a run to Somerset Dam the diesel Outlander impressed me with its flexibility and easy handling (although there was some road noise from the tyres) and overall comfort. I liked the decisive gear changes from the six speed auto which to my mind is a lot more user friendly than the current crop of CVT units a lot of smaller cars are using these days. A bit of paddle play on the windy bits between The Spit and Kirkleigh brought a smile to the face and some movement on the rev counter but despite my enthusiastic driving style overall fuel consumption from the turbo diesel still came in at 6L per 100km, which is quite acceptable for a smaller SUV wagon. Tank capacity is 60 litres.
I saw the diesel Outlander as neatly combining power and economy in a family orientated SUV that can work through the week, and play on weekends. Mitsubishi offer a 5 year/130,000 kilometre warranty on the Outlander diesel and best of all it comes with a full size spare tyre. Price is from $40,990 from Nundah Mitsubishi.Reads: 1148