Meet the new Outlander. Same as the old Outlander. It might look like a new model, but that updated body hides the same drivetrain and underpinnings that were in the old one. So does that mean this latest version is just an extreme facelift? Not quite…
Mutton dressed up as lamb. It’s a rather unkind way to describe those who struggle to age gracefully, and attempt to hide the advancing years by adopting the latest fashions.
In a sense, the latest Outlander fits that description, since the shiny new body hides the same technology that powered the previous model. Not only does it have the same (rather antiquated) 2,4-litre petrol mill, but it also has the same platform and CVT gearbox.
That said, some improvements have been made. Noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels have been reduced, the gearbox has been upgraded and the suspension has been retuned. The vehicle now also has a power tailgate, Xenon headlamps, multi-function steering wheel, cruise control and climate control.
The fact that this is essentially a heavily restyled version of the outgoing Outlander does, of course, have its benefits. It ensures that the vehicle is robust and reliable, because of the tried-and-tested technology.
But there is no hiding the fact that the engine/gearbox combination has been around for a while. The engine requires about 10 litres of fuel per 100km while offering a rather middling performance. Engine figures are respectable (123 kW of power and 222 Nm of torque), but overall the Overlander is hamstrung by the CVT ’box that slips and whines as it tries to match revs to throttle response. Once you’re up and away, however, the engine/gearbox finds its rhythm and provides a pleasant enough driving experience. Overtaking isn’t a problem and NVH levels are impressively low.
The cabin has been significantly upgraded and is one of the new Outlander’s best features. It feels spacious and modern, boasting a Rockford Fosgate infotainment system with touch-screen. Seats are comfy, and there is a third row that can be folded out when needed. A great touch is a DVD player in the back, to keep rear passengers occupied.
The Outlander remains a respectable and underrated member of the compact SUV segment. It promises to be a reliable, versatile and practical family leisure vehicle. It’s not a hardcore off-roader, but with all-wheel drive, decent ground clearance (190mm) and a low-range setting on its gearbox, it can go surprisingly far off the beaten track.
We tested the Outlander on some of KwaZulu-Natal’s mountain passes a few months ago, and the vehicle really impressed with its ability in the dirt (issue 122, page 66).
It’s just a shame that the Outlander isn’t available with a frugal oilburner and better gearbox. Considering the price and the plethora of vehicles competing in its segment, the Outlander needs to make a more compelling argument for itself. A shiny new body won’t be enough to seal the deal.
MITSUBISHI OUTLANDER 2.4 GLS EXCEED
Engine: 2359cc, four-cylinder, in-line, transverse
Power: 123 kW @ 6000 r/min
Torque: 222 Nm @ 4100 r/min
Gearbox: CVT with six steps
4×4 system: AWD with centre lock, low-range setting on CVT
Luggage space: 512/1376 litres
Towing capacity: 750kg (braked)
Price: R429 900
Service plan: Five-year/90 000km
Warranty: Three-year/100 000km