Strong & tough

K Shivraj
Saturday, 28 July 2018

The new Mitsubishi Outlander is not among the most lavish or the most well-equipped SUVs, but it rides and handles well

Mitsubishi has launched a new Outlander. It is after a long time that the company has launched a new SUV. The Montero that the company introduced in 2016 was more a facelift than an all-new model introduction. Flaunting a new Mitsubishi signature grille that is essentially made up of two thick chrome bars, the SUV flaunts lights that are slim, and part LED. They contain an L-shaped daytime running lamps. Two more chrome bars under the lights run almost vertically across the bumper, and in the process add a dimension to the air dam. The amount of chrome the vehicle carries at the front is sure to draw attention. Walk over and it won’t take long to notice the black cladding laced with brushed silver trim running across the sides, the front and the rear. If the bulging wheel arches hint at a touch of sportiness, the 16-inch dia wheels look a bit too small when viewed against the overall proportions. If the D-pillar draws attention for its kink, it is the LED tail lamps that are first to be noticed when one walks over to the rear, which is not as bold or as expressive as the front. 

Capable of seating seven people across three rows, the all-black cabin of the 2018 Outlander offers good space, but is not the most striking among other SUVs. It is rather functional, and looks robust and hard wearing. Leather-wrapped seats add plushness whereas the good-looking modern dash contains two big dials and a large LCD screen. The 6.1-inch touchscreen, incorporating the music system, sounds good. There’s no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. The interface is a bit clunky, and the looks are a bit aftermarket-ish. The comfy front seats offer a good view. The middle row slides back and forth, and in-effect dictates the third row space. Third row seating is low, and good for kids. Featuring auto headlamps, wipers and climate control, the SUV omits rear AC vents. In Indian summer, this feature, though not important, will be missed. Featuring a sunroof, the SUV comes with power adjustable driver seat, heated front windows, and safety kit that includes traction control, stability control, hill start assist and seven airbags. 

With a monocoque construction with the 167bhp, 2.4-litre petrol engine placed transversely at front with power routed primarily to the front wheels through a CVT auto-box, the SUV moves away with verve. Power delivery is strong, right from the start. Turn the all-wheel system button on the transmission tunnel, and power is diverted to the rear axle upon sensing slip at either front wheels. The old-school of a power plant sans a turbo, may call for some revving to achieve better progress, but is never lacking. It is just that there’s no turbo boost or that turbo-induced surge. A need for some more power is felt as the transmission kicks down or during part throttle acceleration. 

The CVT auto-box comes with paddles attached to the steering column. Using them in less than aggressive driving conditions has them working. Try downshifting in a hurry in mid-corner, and a beep will announce that the tranny can’t act on your command. But the CVT makes easy driving in the city. 

Off-road, it is best to turn the all-wheel drive button to display ‘AWD Lock’ on the screen. There feels a bump in power as it is routed to all the wheels in better proportion when the SUV starts off on a rocky patch or an earthen trail with loose soil and slush thrown in. Not exactly a mountain goat, the SUV displays sure-footedness that is hard for many crossovers to display. Feeling tough and robust, the high aspect ratio (215/70 R16) tyres do a good job of absorbing the irregularities. Even on-road, the SUV delivers a plush ride. Road joints and some other irregularities that are discomforting in other SUVs are hardly felt in the Outlander. The steering feels direct and weighs up well with speed. Pushed into corners on a twisty mountain stretch, the SUV does a good job of negotiating them. There is some roll, but does not compromise handling. 

Priced upwards of Rs 31.54 lakh, the 2018 Outlander is not exactly a very attractive SUV to grab the chequebook and rush to the nearest showroom. It is not the most lavish or the most well equipped. However, retaining the Mitsubishi Pajero family DNA, the Outlander rides and handles well, and feels robust. 

Pros: Performance, refinement, ride, handling, robust feel, AWD
Cons: Petrol only, not the most exciting looking inside and outside, lacking in equipment

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