First Drive: Mitsubishi Outlander 2.0L, hitting all the right spots


Gone were the days where Mitsubishi Motors made rally-bred 4WD sedans for the road. Today, the company is almost entirely focused on family-friendly SUVs – just pop by their official website and you’ll see what I mean.

Mitsubishi’s focus on SUVs is an inevitable one as the current market forces dictate that space and fuel efficiency is everything, hence the birth of the e-Evolution Concept. But before we dabble into the future, let’s focus on the present – Mitsubishi’s flagship seven-seater SUV, the Outlander.

Mitsubishi Motors Malaysia (MMM) first debuted the Outlander back in early 2016. Fully imported from Japan, the asking price of the Outlander 2.4L shooed away many interested parties especially when its direct competitor, the locally-assembled Nissan X-Trail had a massive price advantage.

However, that shortcoming has finally overturned with the introduction of the locally-assembled Outlander 2.0L. Priced just a shade under RM140k, the CKD Outlander 2.0L not only retained most of the features from its more expensive sibling’s inventory but also some value-added features too. To prove that the Outlander 2.0L is not just a budget exercise, we joined MMM to sample the new variant in a leisure drive to Janda Baik.

Is the 2.0L up to task? But there are no rear air vents? Do I really need 4WD? After spending a lengthy trip in all sorts of road conditions, here’s my best take on the most affordable 4WD seven-seater in Malaysia.

QUICK FACTS

NameMitsubishi Outlander 2.0L 4WD (CKD)Mitsubishi Outlander 2.4L 4WD (CBU)
Engine1,998cc; 4-cylinder DOHC MIVEC2,360cc; 4-cylinder DOHC MIVEC
TransmissionContinuously Variable Transmission (CVT)
Max Power143 hp @ 6,000 rpm165 hp @ 6,000 rpm
Max Torque196 Nm @ 4,200 rpm220 Nm @ 4,200 rpm
Price (OTR without insurance)RM139,988RM171,000

The 2.0L MIVEC gets the job done

Most of you must be concerned of the 2.0-litre four-cylinder naturally-aspirated MIVEC engine’s passable 143 hp and 196 Nm of torque especially when having to lug seven passengers and some luggage. To be frank, you won’t be climbing the speedometer in record time but getting up to highway speeds, the 2.0-litre motor is more than up to the task.

In this day and age, calibration of powertrain plays a bigger role in real-world performance than its outright on-paper figures. The INVECS-III CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) has been tweaked to have provide most of the engine’s power from down low, which was apparent during overtaking manoeuvres in the city. On the highway, the Outlander comfortably hits the legal speed limit without stressing all 6,000 revs.

Gunning for top speed, however, the naturally-aspirated mill showed signs of lethargy, especially past 140 km/h. You have to hustle a little more revs to get a speeding fine but then again the sensible family men will hardly touch those speeds, especially when ferrying six other. Should you require a little more grunt from the motor, you can flick the gear lever to Ds drive mode (essentially Sports mode) that holds the revs 1,000 rpm higher for some extra pulling force.

No rear air vents, no problem

One particular concern for many is the lack of rear air vents in a 4,695 mm three-row SUV. I am happy to report that while the cabin takes some time to cool down on a hot sunny day, once it forces all the hot air out, the second and third-row seats were comfortably chilled.

Despite the lack of rear air vents, the Outlander 2.0L’s dual-zone automatic climate control automatically adjusts the fan speed to ensure the cabin maintains at the set temperature. The front blowers are also exceptionally powerful to reach the rear passengers. Besides that, MMM has equipped the Outlander 2.0L with security tint from the factory to deter heat from radiating into the cabin.

If you’re still unconvinced, ask yourself when was the last time a seven-seater SUV’s rear air vents left a lasting impression?

4WD makes all the difference

The Outlander comes equipped with an intelligent 4WD system with Multi-Select function to instantly cycle between – 4WD Eco, 4WD Auto and 4WD Lock. To demonstrate the difference between 4WD Eco (predominantly front wheel drive) and 4WD Auto (fully 4WD), MMM has prepared an instrumented test consisting of a wet surface roundabout and a mini slalom course.

Going around the cones, immediately we were able to tell that the car is significantly more planted in 4WD Auto with lesser body roll and understeer. However, it’s not to say that the 4WD Eco is unsettling but merely shows that having all four wheels transferring power to the ground gives that extra assurance around the bends. Despite the heavier system in place and large 18-inch alloys, ride quality was exceptionally pleasant with decent suspension travel and minimal rebounds – perfect setup for a comfortable family SUV.

Fortunately, on our drive to Janda Baik, we were able to stretch the 4WD system even more thanks to the torrential rains on the mountainous section. Setting the car in 4WD Auto with a push of the Multi-Select button is all you need to confidently put power down in the most unpredictable conditions. Given the uncertainty of our weather, the added traction from the 4WD system certainly gives a greater peace of mind.

Well-equipped and decently priced

Creature comfort features are in abundance with keyless entry and start, automatic headlamps, a 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay, digital video recorder (dash camera), multifunctional steering wheel, cruise control, seven-airbags, ABS and EBD, Active Stability & Traction Control (ASTC), Rest Reminder, Hill Start Assist as well as front and rear parking sensors.

With all these feel-good features in place, the entry-level Outlander 2.0L is by no means a budgeting exercise to penetrate the lower price brackets. Drivers and passengers alike will appreciate all the bells and whistles available. If there is one thing the Outlander 2.0L needs to make it absolutely perfect, is a powered tailgate. The manual tailgate opens to a reasonably tall position and shorter individuals will have a hard time reaching for the handles.

Is this car for you?

If you’re in the market specifically for a seven-seater SUV, the Mitsubishi Outlander is definitely one to look out for. Jam-packed with features, superior driving dynamics and the all-important 4WD system, its everything you could ask for in a family-oriented people carrier.

For RM140k, there is nothing else quite like the Mitsubishi Outlander 2.0L in the market that combines style, safety and features. For those considering the Outlander 2.4L simply because of its fully imported origins, if I may give my honest opinion, save that RM30k for that two-door coupe you’ve been eyeing for because the Outlander 2.0L hits all the right spots.


IMAGE GALLERY


Adrian Chia

Adrian Chia

He believes that the perfect remedy to Monday blues is a mixture of 4 wheels, clear roads and a pinch of twisty tarmac. A hot hatch is the icing on the cake.

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