The Outlander's diesel engine has 148bhp and 280lb ft of pull, and even though it's no fireball when you pile the revs on, it's keen enough in the low- and mid range to keep life easy. Low-end models come with a six-speed manual gearbox, while posher models come with a smooth (if slightly hesitant) six-speed automatic
The Outlander's suspension has a more softly sprung character than many rivals', and it's generally forgiving over bumpy roads. That loping gait means that body movement isn't especially well controlled, though, so it can bounce around in a rather uncontrolled way at higher speeds, and there's quite a bit of lean in corners. At least there's always lots of grip and traction. The steering is disconcertingly light at higher speeds.
The engine transmits unwelcome vibrations through the steering wheel, but it stays pretty quiet if you keep the revs below 3000rpm. In fact, you don't hear much noise from anywhere on the motorway; road noise is very well suppressed, and although you hear some flutter around the huge door mirrors, wind noise generally is, too. The manual gearshift is notchy, but the auto is smoother.
The Outlander has a lower starting price than the rival Hyundai Santa Fe, but the versions you’ll actually want don’t look such good value. At least the Outlander will be cheaper to run than many rivals – including the Santa Fe - thanks to the efficiency of its diesel engine.
The Outlander’s cabin has some piano black inserts and metallic accents, but the some of the plastics feel quite cheap and the overall design is rather dated. Mitsubishi’s reliability record is nothing special and it finished 22nd out of 27 manufacturers in the 2012 JD Power customer satisfaction survey.
All versions of the Outlander come with stability control and seven airbags, including one to protect the driver's knees. There are some even more sophisticated safety measures on offer, too, such as lane departure warning, radar cruise control and a collision mitigation system (which applies the brakes automatically if it senses an impending crash). The car has received the full five stars in Euro NCAP crash tests.
Finding a comfortable driving position should be easy, because the seat has height adjustment and there's a good range of steering wheel adjustment. Most of the dashboard controls have a simple layout, too, but some of the buttons you won't use very often are tucked away out of sight, and the touch-screen sat-nav system has complex menus and small, hard-to-hit icons.
All but entry-level Outlanders get seven seats as standard. There's plenty of space in the front five and the rear pair are reasonably comfortable. Space in them is tight, but there's enough for kids, or adults on short journeys. All the rear chairs fold flat to maximize luggage space, and the capacity is impressive. The boot is generous in five-seat mode, too, and even with all seven chairs in place, there’s enough room for a few bags.
Entry-level GX2 cars are pretty poorly equipped, but GX3s give you dual-zone climate control, automatic wipers, Bluetooth and alloy wheels. GX4 trim adds keyless entry and start, electrically adjustable leather seats, a reversing camera and parking sensors, while GX5s also come with adaptive cruise control, a lane departure warning system and a DAB radio.
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