Locally built Mitsubishi Outlander 2.0 is the capable SUV that keeps it simple and practical
In an age where feature and tech-laden offerings rule the popular crossover SUV segment, it’s surprising simpler yet equally capable ones such as the Mitsubishi Outlander still hold appeal.
The entry level variant of the seven-seat SUV, now locally assembled, was recently introduced. We managed to get a feel of it during a full day’s drive up to Janda Baik and back to Kuala Lumpur and, simply put, this crossover holds plenty of goodness for those seeking such a vehicle.
At a glance, the Outlander looks less utilitarian, thanks to its very urban and modern touches. Amplifying that is a bold front fascia boasting LED Daytime Running Lights (DRLs), a good amount of shiny chrome trim and equally stylish 18-inch alloy wheels. It may lack the LED projectors found on its range-topping sibling, but that isn’t at all a deal-breaker.
For a locally assembled model, plenty of soft-touch trim in the cabin offers decently high levels of comfort. In that aspect too, although fabric seat covers are favoured over leather ones, the abundance of space renders that absence quite forgettable. Indeed, overall fit and finish feels stellar for a CKD model.
Kit count is decent despite the deletion of things like the electronic parking brake and paddleshifts, features found in the fully imported Outlander 2.4. Some would-be buyers might note the absence of rear air-conditioning vents and the seemingly cramped space in the third-row seats – nevertheless, an automatic dual zone climate control, cruise control, a nifty 7-inch touchscreen in an infotainment system boasting Apple Carplay and six speakers, reverse camera view and steering-mounted controls should be sufficient for most.
Thumb the start button and the 2.0-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder petrol heart mounted up front comes to life easily. It develops a healthy 143bhp and 196Nm of torque, which are delivered to all four wheels via a CVT automatic and Mitsubishi’s proprietary intelligent All-Wheel-Drive (AWD) suite. It may not sound like much in this age where forced-induction is the norm, but it’s good enough to get this 1,425kg Outlander going without a struggle.
This mill favours peak power and torque delivery at a higher rev band, so you’ll need to live with the CVT’s typically loud drone and sluggish delivery initially. The transmission, while not the most dynamic, is smooth and easy to grasp. Crucially, it’s also economical once you get around to mastering its quirks. Do that, and achieving its respectable 7.3 litres/100km average fuel economy rating becomes a cinch.
In the ride and handling department, the light electric steering system makes manoeuvering this rather long SUV much easier, thus making up for its typically muted feel. The high-travel suspension does cause some slight bodyroll when the Outlander’s thrown into bends, but it’s sufficiently pliant and well dampened enough to deliver a surprisingly comfortable ride.
Its AWD system is perhaps the most talented aspect of the Outlander. Mitsubishi is a marque renowned for making some of the most capable off-roaders and that’s clear here too. It’s a simple matter of pressing the button to switch between Normal, Eco or Lock modes, and the system intelligently distributes traction to get the Outlander going, whatever the road or terrain.
Safety is well covered as well. The key features include seven airbags, anti-lock brakes (ABS + EBD), electronic stability control and the all-important ISOFIX child seat points, which should satisfy the family man.
Luggage/cargo space is decent – 477 litres of it with the third row seats folded down. It makes the Outlander one of the most practical options in its segment. More cargo space can be made available, thanks to the 60:40 split folding second row seats. The powered tailgate feature provides further convenience.
Though, obviously, it lacks the performance and tech-for-money ratio of, for instance, the segment-defining Honda CR-V, the Outlander 2.0’s down to earth approach, decent equipment count and practicality works in its favour. Its RM139,988 price, excluding insurance and registration, could do the same. It comes with a five-year, unlimited mileage factory warranty.
Powertrain: 1,998cc 4-cylinder petrol, 143bhp, 196Nm, CVT auto, AWD