Wednesday, September 22, 2010

2007-2010 Mitsubishi Outlander

I know updates have been lacking this whole year so I'm trying to make up for it. Today's car is the Mitsubishi Outlander.

Introduction: The Mitsubishi Outlander originated in 2001 as the Mitsubishi Airtrek. This vehicle was derived from Mitsubishi's ASX concept. The idea behind this was to make a crossover that had the off-road ability of the SUV but retain the standard car's emissions, size and fuel economy. The Airtrek name was eventually phased out in favour of Outlander which is the name most familiar with those outside of Japan. The Outlander was redesigned in 2005 being the first vehicle of the new GS platform which includes the Lancer and the rally racer Lancer Evolution. This second generation vehicle would only come to North America in 2007. The Outlander went for a redesign in 2010 taking the new Lancer and Lancer Evolution's front end.

This is the very first Mitsubishi that I got the chance to drive. I was sort of excited but I was also wasn't sure what to make out of it. Nobody I knew ever drove a Mitsubishi and I didn't hear the greatest praise for them either outside. Yet with Mitsubishi's history of excellent cars like the Lancer Evolutions, I wasn't expecting terrible things.

Performance: The North American Outlanders only are equipped with a 3.0L V6 MIVEC engine. This engine produces 220 hp and 204 lb.ft of torque for the earlier Outlanders. The 2010 updated engine is the very same engine but now producing 230 hp and 215 lb.ft of torque. Its acceleration from 0-100 km/h takes about 8.5 seconds on older Outlanders, the new one strangely is quite a bit faster in under 8 seconds. Having driven both I honestly didn't realize the newer ones were that much faster. In low speeds the engine has a slightly annoying whining sound, its a lot better when taken to highway speeds. Still it pulls rather well and is surprisingly quick despite not being turbocharged or having a high displacement making it a rather clever engine. Fuel economy for this crossover is rather average if you notice you need to fill up often, its not bad fuel economy but rather the Outlander has a rather small fuel tank(50-55L) for some strange reason.

My Score: 8/10 - A bit noisy at slow speeds but surprisingly quick

Handling: When you take the Outlander into a corner I was rather surprised at how much of a car it felt. You don't seem to feel the higher center of gravity as much as some of the taller small cars. Steering feel is actually very good, in the corners its rather crisp in its changes. This crossover isn't as happy in the corners as the Mazda CX-7 but feels very competent. Normally crossovers are nowhere near as good as their car counterparts, the Outlander despite its bulk doesn't feel that far from its Lancer roots. The ride comfort is a bit firm than most of the other crossovers but that's expected for performance like this.

My Score: 9/10 - A surprise, car-like feel in an area where most crossovers are not so good. Ride comfort suffers a slight bit.

Interior: Well, I haven't said as many nice things about the previous Mitsubishi interiors and this one isn't any different. Once again the materials appear to be the worst offender here. The plastic just don't have that quality feel you get on say a newer Hyundai. Its not the most inviting interior either as its full of dark plastic and black carpets. The stereo is alright but the knobs are very small which may be a problem for those with larger fingers. On the bright side, it actually feels a lot bigger inside than the vehicle seems on the outside. I don't know if Mitsubishi focused on space efficiency but it felt cavernous inside. It has a split folding tailgate which I think is very good. Higher trim levels feature the 7-seater arrangement, for small children I don't think they're too bad but a large adult won't like them. Having the second row fold is actually quite easy, holding the lever is all that has to be done. Higher trim levels also have key-less start which is neat at first but I find a bit gimmicky. I think this is the best interior Mitsubishi has designed mainly due to the engineering. The build quality is very good, its built in Okazaki, Aichi, Japan.

My Score: 7/10 - Very clever designed interior, feels spacious, built rather well but has cheap material and isn't very pleasant inside.

Styling: There are two styles the original and the refreshed style. I personally prefer the original as that style fit with the entire car without looking like everything else. I didn't find the Lancer Evolution X's front end fit with the car very well but some people like it. The rear remained the same regardless of which version and is a bit more original. Its the side profile where I find the newer front a bit awkward as it has a slight overbite while the older doesn't and flows smoothly. I can see some of the appeal of the newer front but I think it looks better on a car.

My Score: 7/10 - Nice styling particularly the older design which flows very nicely, newer is more aggressive if that's your thing.

Value for money: This is one of the better crossovers I've ever driven. The clever interior, the rather good driving dynamics and overall good styling. I found the Outlander drives a lot better than many of the alternatives. If you get the 7-seater arrangement its not as great at carrying passengers as a minivan and its a bit more expensive. For that extra expense however you are given the 4WD and a easier and nicer vehicle to drive so its a bit of a trade off. If you occasionally need the 7 seats, the Outlander is a better choice than the minivan. Another nice bonus, it has Mitsubishi's industry leading warranty. I can't think of a great reason for buying any other crossover unless you want a nicer interior.

My Score: 8/10 - If you need this sort of vehicle its one of the best, with a great warranty and presents great driving dynamics. It only falls short if you constantly need a 7-seater or want a nicer interior.

Overall: 39/50 - Some minor flaws cannot deny that this crossover is a very good vehicle.

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