MID-LIFE UPGRADE FOR MITSUBISHI’S OUTLANDER SUV

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Often when a vehicle undergoes a mid-life facelift the changes are so subtle it takes a visual third-degree to tell the difference between the old and the new.

There’s no chance of that applying to the upgraded Mitsubishi Outlander SUV, launched this week with Mitsubishi’s new ‘’Dynamic Shield’’ appearance keeping the popular SUV fresh and up to scratch with the competition. And, the new beauty stretches from the skin to the way the car drives and a flash new interior.

Outlander is the first vehicle to get the new face of Mitsubishi – a face that is dynamic and eye-catching. The upper grille features two chrome bars that link into the head lamps. A chrome feature then links the top grille to the lower grille by flanking the outer edges that end just inside the fog lamps. It’s wide and black and has strong visual impact.

In addition Mitsubishi has fitted new front mudguards, silver roof rails, new design 18-inch alloys and LED daytime running lights as well as LED tail lights.

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Outlander comes in three model specification variants: LS, GLS and top spec Exceed.

The interior receives a redesigned steering wheel, new accents, new seat bolstering and a finish that is a step-up for Mitsubishi towards a prestige appearance. The overall interior impact is one of a classy car with a contemporary dash layout dominated by a large display screen.

We found the seats more compliant than the current Outlander – you now sit in the seats, not on them, yet they still have plenty of support. The interior is also quieter with 39 improvements to NVH (noise, vibration, harshness) components and increased body rigidity.

On coarse surfaces noise intrusion into the cabin was noticeable by its absence, apart from some wing noise generated by the large wind mirrors. Contributing to the overall noise reduction is extensive use of sound insulation and isolation damping materials as well as a redesign of the engine air intake system. Other changes include noise insulating windscreen glass, better weather stripping, different tyres and modified suspension mounts as well as tuning to the dampers.

Mitsubishi_Outlander_interior

CVT transmissions have come a long way in the past two years and the Outlander now has the latest Mitsubishi version that reduces the revving flare feel from a standing start and improves fast acceleration to improve the vehicle’s passing ability.

The improvements are apparent not so much when cruising when the system is smooth and seamless, but under any sort of throttle load. The downshifts happen quicker and the slipping-clutch, over-revving sensation is barely there. This transmission also has a manual over-ride so you can use the steering wheel paddles to down and upshift the six steps, particularly handy for using engine braking on steep descents.

It’s worth noting that the Outlander diesel does not use a CVT, but a conventional six speed transmission that includes manual shifters at the gear lever and also steering wheel paddles.

Mitsubishi gave us diet of twisting Royal National Park roads, suburban streets, highways and stop-start traffic through Sydney’s main arterial roads. We drove the Exceed diesel and the mid-range XLS AWD 2.0 petrol with CVT.

At first the SUV seemed a little ponderous on the twisting tar, but pushing it a bit harder we found it does bounce around a bit, but it clings on nicely – and more importantly with no complaint – while taking hard and fast turns at speed.

As a family car we pushed it a bit further than you would expect owners to, and Outlander feels quite at home with nice turn in and plenty of go to power out of corners.

We were most interested to test the new and improved CVT transmission. It has improved quite a bit and we’d certainly give it a pass mark for smoothness and a snappier feel as it is pushed hard with reduced engine noise. It’s not yet to the standard of the Subaru CVTs, but is well ahead of the previous Outlander.

AT A GLANCE
5-Star ANCAP safety rating
First to get new Mitsubishi styling
Upgraded CVT transmission
New premium interior finish
Reduced noise in cabin

MODEL RANGE
LS 2.0-litre petrol 2WD five-door wagon: $28,490 (manual), $30,490 (CVT automatic)
XLS 2.0-litre petrol 2WD five-door wagon: $33,490 (CVT automatic)
LS 2.4-litre petrol AWD five-door wagon: $33,490 (CVT automatic)
XLS 2.4-litre petrol AWD five-door wagon: $36,490 (CVT automatic)
Exceed 2.4-litre petrol AWD five-door wagon: $43,490 (CVT automatic)
XLS DiD 2.3-litre turbo-diesel AWD five-door wagon: $39,490 (6-speed automatic)
Exceed DiD 2.3-litre turbo-diesel AWD five-door wagon: $46,490 (6-speed automatic)
Note: These prices do not include dealer or government charges. Contact your local Mitsubishi dealer for drive-away prices.

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