When Mitsubishi Motors launched a new Outlander a few years ago they almost completely missed the mark. The design was bland, the interior underwhelming, it was a nothing drive and in a super competitive market segment the sales languished. However the new 2016 Outlander has substantial mid-life changes, marking improvements in design, refinement and overall driver engagement.
We got to test two variants, the Outlander XLS 2.4L CVT petrol version and the Outlander Exceed 2.2L DiD AT version. Two different approaches, two different drive trains and engines but both 4wd versions.
The new-look 2016 Outlander has been redesigned and re-engineered from nose to tail to deliver a dynamic new appearance and significantly improved performance on the road.
Hot on the heels of its reveal at this year’s New York International Auto Show, the 2016 Outlander is the first Mitsubishi production vehicle to showcase the brand’s striking new “Dynamic Shield” design concept, giving the Outlander a fresh, sophisticated on-road presence.
Externally this “Dynamic Shield” design manifests itself with bold new redesigned front and rear fascia, new front guards, LED Day Time Running Lights (DRL), silver roof rails, new design 18-inch alloy wheels and LED tail lights.
So Mitsubishi has made dramatic improvements to the exterior. What about the interior. Bland before but now with subtle style it has improved with a redesigned steering wheel, new accent trim, improved seating comfort and soft touch premium finishes to give the cabin a more sophisticated feel. The top-of-the-range Exceed model gains a gloss black streamline vein instrument panel and door trim.
Front seating comfort has been greatly enhanced with improved lateral support and an increase in side bolster stiffness. This is a huge improvement. A new black cloth seat trim on XLS models and leather on the Exceed with stitching details complement the new interior look.
Rear seats are a little flat and short in the squab however two passengers will find themselves relatively comfortable with adequate leg, knee, head and shoulder room. The third row of seats is strictly under 10 ages and short distances but available in this size vehicle which is a big plus. Also the cargo area doesn’t suffer because of them.
One positive is that the revamped Outlanders come flush with standard features that is amongst the best in class.
Standard features on the Outlander include: 18-inch alloy wheels, hands free Bluetooth with voice command and steering wheel controls, display audio, reverse sensors and camera; privacy glass, LED Daytime Running Lamps (DRL) and LED rear combination lamp, front and rear fog lamps, side turn lamp in door mirrors, climate control air-conditioning, 60/40 split rear seats, cruise control with steering wheel controls, ECO mode, 7 airbags (driver and passenger, side and curtain, driver knee), hill start assist, tilt and telescopic steering wheel, leather steering wheel and shift knob, silver accent on instrument centre panel, alarm and immobiliser, driver and passenger sun visor with ticket holder and illuminated vanity mirror and headlining with sunglass holder .
Over this the XLS features: Digital Audio, touch Screen-Satellite Navigation (MMCS), dual zone air-conditioning, dusk sensing head lamps, rain sensing wipers, electric folding mirrors, heated mirrors, electro-chromatic rear view mirror, cargo blind and high contrast meter with colour LCD display.
The top of the range Exceed features: Forward Collision Mitigation, Adaptive Cruise Control, smart key, One Touch Start, power tailgate, sunroof, heated leather seats, electrically adjustable driver’s seat, LED headlamps, headlamp washers, gloss black streamline vein instrument panel and door trim, chrome outer door handles, outer scuff plate.
So the 2016 Outlander looks better both inside and out, has a plethora of standard features for each model variant, but what about the engines and driving?
The first thing you notice in both models is that it is smoother and more engaging drive. Don’t get me wrong this isn’t a sports SUV but the driver is more engaged than before with better throttle response and handling. The work Mitsubishi has done on reducing noise levels (NVH) is also noticeable. I am not really a fan of CVT transmissions and again I preferred the automatic in the Exceed. It was slightly quieter and more responsive.
Reducing NVH requires a multi faceted and complicated approach and its worth mentioning just some of the detail that went into this improvement.
NVH improvements have been developed in part from the application of extensive sound insulation and isolation damping materials throughout the vehicle. Engine noise, cabin boom, road and wind noise are all reduced due to the modified engine air intake system (petrol and diesel engines), noise-isolating windscreen glass, improved weather stripping, new tyres, damper tuning and modified suspension mounts. In total, thirty-nine NVH improvements have been applied to the 2016 model.
Safety is always important and the 2016 Outlander range maintains its five-star ANCAP safety rating thanks to its combination of active and passive safety features. The Outlander has front driver and passenger airbags, side, curtain and knee protection airbags, reversing camera, reserving sensors and Tyre Pressure Monitoring System.
The Outlander’s Reinforced Impact Safety Evolution (RISE) body structure is further bolstered with active safety features including Traction Control and Active Stability Control (ASC), ABS with Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD) and Hill Start Assist.
The Exceed is equipped with additional safety features including Adaptive Cruise Control and Forward Collision Mitigation
The 2016 Outlander is powered by a choice of engines and drivelines. The 2.2L DiD diesel engine produces 110kw @ 3500rpm of power and 360Nm of torque @ 1500 – 2700rpm. This drives through a 6 speed sports automatic transmission with electronic on demand 4wd. The diesel exceed can tow 2000kg with a towball rating of 200kg.
The 2.4L Petrol engine driving through a CVT produces 124kw @ 6000rpm of power and 220Nm of torque @ 4200rpm. This drives through a CVT transmission with electronic on demand 4wd. The petrol XLS can tow 1600kg with a towball rating of 160kg.
The pick of the two is definitely the diesel with more responsive engine, economy and the 6 speed auto transmission.
The new Outlander retains its predecessor’s outstanding safety and environmental performance through the use of advanced four-wheel drive technology, passive safety technology as well as fuel-efficient engine technology.
The 2016 Outlander benefits from Mitsubishi’s five-year/100,000km new car warranty. The Outlander range has Mitsubishi’s four-year Capped Price Servicing which are scheduled every 15,000km or 12 months, whichever comes first.
With RDAP prices of $40,663 for the 2.4L CVT XLS and $51,180 for the 2.2L Exceed 6 speed AT, both represent pretty good value for money in the segment. What Mitsubishi has done is bring the Outlander up to where it should have been the first time. It has now moved from a “don’t bother to look at” to a “this is worth a good look” rating.