No matter what some might think, the Mitsubishi Outlander is a straightforward, simple SUV that isn’t bloated with the bells and whistles that some Japanese (and now, Malaysian) carmakers seem to stuff into their same-class offering.
So, you won’t get any sort of autonomous-driving tech, a fancy media interface and an interior that bedazzles you with open-pore wood trimmings with 10 different interior lighting options. Then again, the Outlander isn’t priced outlandishly. The Outlander on test is fitted with the 2.0-litre engine, which is appropriately priced at RM137,888 considering it seats seven with reasonable comfort and has a 4WD system.
If you’re expecting a buffet spread of 4WD terrain modes, then you’re in the wrong place. Mitsubishi offers only three modes – 4WD Eco, 4WD Auto and 4WD Lock – from that it works brilliantly whether on turf or tarmac. It is easy to figure out what each mode does. You engage Eco, which puts more power to the front wheels, to save fuel. When the road gets rough, the 4WD Lock will keep a 50/50 power split between the front and rear wheels.
In most cases, you’ll have the 4WD setting in the default Auto mode that’s good for all but the most extremes of driving situations and terrains. Take the Outlander for a little romp in the bushes, and you’ll be kicking up a dust cloud with the best of them. And the Mitsubishi isn’t troubled even when half of it is running on wet grass while the other is negotiating shifting sands.
Out of the rut and on to the road, the Outlander handles rather well. The spring and dampers soak up almost everything the tarmac throws at it without complaints while keeping a firm restraint on body roll. So, you can expect a ride that’s comfortable within an excellently sound-proofed cabin.
The Outlander is powered by a naturally-aspirated 2.0-litre engine that produces 143hp and 196Nm of torque. Power is transferred to the wheels through a CVT so you can expect a smooth acceleration up to speed. Mind you, it’s not quick or fast, but the powerplant has enough grunt to move the 1,575kg SUV at a good pace.
And it is true that there are more powerful SUVs in the market, but not all of them are able to sit seven. With all seats folded down – second and third rows – the Outlander offers a large capacity cargo hold that Mitsubishi claims to be best-in-class and may give the CR-V a run for its money.
Crack open the boot to find an opening that is tall and wide, and very easy to slip to road bikes into the rear without needed to remove the front-wheels – this matters plenty to cyclists especially after a couple of hours of hard riding. It goes without saying that the Outlander will hold many wide and tall boxes.
At its most cavernous, the Outlander affords a space of over 1,600-litres, allowing you to haul many flat-packed types of furniture yourself and save on delivery charges. Of course, a 4x4 truck can do the same, but the Outlander has the advantage of having a roof to protect the cargo from the elements.
The interior design is simple and does not spring any surprises. While it doesn’t have fancy trimmings, you can tell that attempts were made to make the cabin presentable. The flat surfaces give the impressions of spaciousness, not like the Outlander needed it.
The only thing that doesn’t rub me right is the audio display touchscreen that doesn’t seem to fit into the centre stack nicely, as if the unit comes from an aftermarket source. But it would be wrong to knock down the media unit as it features Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth connectivity and Air Gesture Controls. It also displays the All-Round Monitor that gives you a 360-degrees top-down view of the SUV.
Although the Outlander isn’t bloated with fancy technology, Mitsubishi did not skimp on the more important features that make this SUV relevant to today’s motoring demands. To be honest, the Outlander appeals to only a specific group of people that places spaciousness, usefulness and price above all else.
Specification: Mitsubishi Outlander 2.0L
Engine 1,988cc, Inline-4, 16v, MIVEC, DOHC | Transmission CVT, 4-wheel drive | Power & Torque 143hp @ 6,000rpm / 196Nm @ 4,200 | Price RM137,888, on-the-road, without insurance | Score 6/10