On the low end there are the “Compact SUV”s. These five-seat crossovers have the look of traditional SUVs, but are usually front-wheel-drive platforms with reasonable ground clearance. On the high end, there are truck-based, body-on-frame, Sports Utility Vehicles. Capable of seating seven and taking them virtually anywhere, they cost about as much as a decent-sized apartment in Dhaka city.
In the middle of both are the unibody frame, all-wheel-drive crossovers. They offer the comforts of a compact SUV, the seating capacity of an actual SUV and off-road capability that can take you anywhere short off rock climbing through a mountain pass. They also cost somewhere in between both extremes, meaning anyone buying one can opt for both a concrete and a metal roof on top of their head.
Despite being the best of both worlds, the options for such crossover are quite limited in the local market. Two that immediately come to mind are the Mitsubishi Outlander, and its somewhat distant cousin, the Nissan X-trail. Former of which we are looking at today.
Unlike the sharp wedge front end of the Xpander and Eclipse Cross, the design of the Outlander remains somewhat soft and rounded. Elements of the “Dynamic Shield” design language, such as the solid silver accents are presents, but the sharp bumper edges and under-the-grille headlamps are missing. A neat classic feature found on the LED headlamps with DRL is a set of concealed headlight washers, a traditional mark of luxury that is something of a rare sight nowadays. Overall, it gives the Outlander a much more “blend in” look, although the advertising sticker bomb on our test unit somewhat offset that to an extent.
Looking at the car from the side, the off-road capability of the Outlander becomes apparent. The 18-inch alloy wheels lift the car 200mm off the ground, with the bottom end of the body featuring a hard-rubber-like coating to combat uneven terrain. The coating is also quite adept at preventing sidewalk curbing, as it covers just enough of the door to absolve the impact. In the rear, the powered tailgate features an integrated wiper, a useful feature to have in both mud and rain. The rear tire can be found underneath the car, open to the elements.
A reserved cabin
Much like the exterior, the interior of the Outlander is conventional and mature. The dashboard is broken into two parts with the steering wheel and infotainment system placed inside a piano black trim piece.
A 4.2-inch liquid crystal multi-information display can be found in the middle of the otherwise analogy gauge cluster, all of which can be seen clearly through the leather-wrapped steering wheels with a plethora of control switches.
The 6.1-inch infotainment system is decidedly modern, featuring wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Underneath the screen are the knobs for the dual-zone climate control, zones which can be adjusted through the screen.
Further down the centre stack, two interesting items can be found. First is a car cigarette lighter, an almost extinct amenity in current times. Besides the lighter, there is a button to control the powered tailgate and a cubby hole we assume designed to hold the key fob. An array of blank switches adorn the bottom of the stack, presumably left intentionally blank for aftermarket installations. A single USB port is provided for charging purposes.
The leather-wrapped front seats are heated and are power-adjustable. The occupant also has the added convenience of ample natural light courtesy of the retractable sunroof. The second-row passengers have the option to adjust their seats the old fashion way and have a central armrest with integrated cupholders. For charging needs, they can help themselves to the USB port and the 12-volt power outlets inside the centre console.
As with most seven-seat vehicles, the facilities for third-row passengers are a bit of an afterthought. There are cupholders, but for some unexplainable reasons, both of them are mounded on top of the right side wheels arch. The left-side passenger gets a shallow storage slot instead.
The cargo bay of the Outlander is modest and can extend up to 1,022 litres if you fold down the third and second-row seats. Some nice touches such as a 12-volt power outlet and a tonneau cover come standard with the car.
For entertainment, the Outlander comes fitted with Mitsubishi’s proprietary “Power Sound System” featuring two tweeters, four speakers and a 510-watt amp. The cabin is also protected by an array of three airbags and Mitsubishi’s in-house RISE (Reinforced Impact Safety Evolution) crash structure.
How does it drive?
The behind-the-wheels experience of the Outlander hides no surprises. The off-road-focused MacPherson strut/Multi-link is floaty on level surfaces and comfortable at reasonable speeds. The 1998cc 4 Cylinder 16 Valve DOHC MIVEC engine provides gradual acceleration in automatic mode, though things get a bit more interesting if one decides to use the five simulated gears of the CVT gearbox. To switch to manual mode, one simply needs to touch the paddles shifters behind the steering wheel. The changes to throttle response can be felt in lower gears, but it comes at the cost of increased CVT droning. Outlander lacks a dedicated manual/automatic shift switch, instead one needs to pull and hold the upshift paddle to return to automatic mode. We were unable to test the off-road capability of the Outlander, courtesy of pre-Eid traffic. Watch this space for a follow-up where we take one off the beaten path.
The Outlander is among the best compromise for anyone looking for a family crossover with decent off-road capabilities. It is well equipped, comfortable and unlike the other Mitsubishi offering, has a non-polarizing design language. If you are in the market for a Mitsubishi and not a fan of the “Dynamic Shield” design language, this is the one to get. And you better get in fast, since just announced the refreshed Outlander with the full upside-down headlight treatment, set to make its official debut in a couple of years.