The 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander is a facelift of the old model. Mitsubishi is actually calling it the 2016 Outlander, which seems somewhat ambitious - as it's only April 2015 now
Anyway, the new 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander is basically the old Mitsubishi Outlander, minus some nagging criticisms that dogged the old one.
- Bit noisy
- Bit harsh
- Bit cheap and nasty inside
- Bit revvy (if that's a noun) on the CVT front
- Bit skittish and uncivilised in the ride & handling department
With this facelift on Outlander, Mitsubishi has attempted to tweak the major bugbear issues to the extent that they could be cost-effectively tweaked.
This is, essentially, what all mid-life model upgrades are. Botox and fillers - the porcelain veneers - to stave off the inevitable truth, that middle age is here.
STYLING & DESIGN
Obviously the new Mitsubishi Outlander has a new face. Hard to miss that. It's like a Lexus in a head-on with a Mighty Morphin’ Power Ranger. Mitsubishi calls it Dynamic Shield. (I guess everything needs a name.) At least it's better than Mazda’s 'soul of motion' or Hyundai’s ‘Fluidic Sculpture’. Car companies just get so wrapped up in this completely meaningless crap - it really is only meaningful in-house.
Anyway, that's the new Outlander look - and it's the new design direction for Mitsubishi generally. You’ll be seeing a lot more of the new Mighty Morphin’ Mitsubishis - Dynamic Shield - whatever - as new Mitsubishi models hit the deck. In my view, it’s always unfortunate when a brand’s all-new look lands on a facelift, because it’s never going to be the finest hour for that design. (Because the new look has to he adapted to parts of the old vehicle that were too expensive to modify.)
2015 Mitsubishi Outlander prices are largely unchanged: you're looking at paying either within $750 more, or $400 less than the predecessor, or no change at all in some models. The cheapest 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander model variants have gone up, and the dearest models have come down. Perversely. So, basically with the 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander you get a few tweaks, different hair and makeup - but nothing of monumental import.
CVT CONTROL SYSTEM
Aside from the new snout, the biggest change to the 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander is probably the new CVT control system. It’s called CVT8. Mitsubishi says CVT8 delivers 26 per cent more torque transmission than the predecessor - and all you can infer from that is: the old one must've been positively haemorrhaging torque. So this is an improvement, but it means the old one must’ve been crap.
Sharper throttle response and a resulting more intuitive interplay between throttle, revs and road speed make the CVT feel less reprehensible than previously, allegedly. It also delivers a very slight boost in fuel efficiency, according to official standardised tests.
INSULATION & REFINEMENT
They've pumped up the acoustic insulation and tweaked the glass in the 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander - to cut noise, vibration and harshness. And there's the odd suspension upgrade as well. Bigger rear dampers - that kind of thing.
Warranty remains at five years, but the distance attached to that warranty has come back to 100,000 kilometres. Mitsubishi warranties had for many years been five years and 130,000 kilometres. Mitsubishi has been pulling the distance back across the board, in recent months. Mitsubishi says that's to align warranties globally within the company - and it won't make all that much difference to many buyers (the average distance driven annually in Australia is just under 15,000 kilometres annually).
However, the new warranty won't roll off the tongue nearly as well as Hyundai/Kia's unlimited distance warranty, with five and seven years respectively - and bear in mind both South Korean brands are especially strong in both five- and seven-seat SUVs. And it will probably push some higher than average distance drivers across the market to Hyundai and Kia.
All models get new 18-inch alloys - a big upgrade for the base model there. LED daytime running lamps and LED combination rear lamps are standard across the range, there’s a new, very nice steering wheel as well, and more comfy seats as well.
There are three models: LS, XLS and Exceed - in ascending order of automotive sex appeal, and price. When it comes to new stuff, the base model LS gets privacy glass and repeater lamps in the wing mirrors. Jumping up to the mid-spec XLS gets you digital audio, electric folding and heated wing mirrors for those urban jungles where most Outlanders will do business. And the top-spec Exceed gets LED headlamps and glossy black garnish.
ENGINES & RANGE
There are three engines: 2.0-litre and 2.4-litre petrol, and a 2.2 diesel. The diesel comes with a conventional six-speed auto and all-wheel drive only. It works like this: the 2.0-litre engine is 2WD only, and you can only get it in XL and XLS versions. 2.4-litre petrol is available with all-wheel drive only, right across the range.
If you want seven seats, that’s XLS or Exceed, petrol or diesel.
There’s only one manual - a throwback and, I suspect, it’s just there to be a price leader. It’s a five-speed - remember when new cars still had those? And you can have it in any model you want - as long as you only want a two-litre front-wheel drive LS manual. If that’s your dream, it kicks off the range and can be all yours for $28-and-a-half grand, plus on-road costs. The hot tip there: buy a car instead.
PICK OF THE RANGE
If you’ve got about $40,000 to spend, a 2.4-litre Outlander XLS all-wheel drive is looking pretty good. If I was spending my money on an Outlander, that would probably be the one.
The 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander is effectively one rung down from the pick of the heavy-hitting SUV seven seaters: Hyundai Santa Fe, Kia Sorento and Toyota Kluger - it’s not as potent, nor is it as premium. But it does represent a significant saving in cash.
Mitsubishi Outlander -Vs- Santa Fe, Kluger & Sorento
Above, left to right, Hyundai Santa Fe, Toyota Kluger & Kia Sorento
That Hyundai/Kia 2.2 diesel in Sorento and Santa Fe is a cracker that Mitsubishi’s 2.2 diesel in XLS and Exceed just can’t match. And 3.5-litre V6s, like the Kluger and Sorento, do tend to murder 2.4-litre Mitsubishi fours. I’d be putting the smart money on the big V6s there.
- Read my Hyundai Santa Fe long-term evaluation reports here >>
- Read more on Toyota Kluger here >>
- Read more on Kia Sorento here >>
Mitsubishi Outlander -Vs- Mazda CX-5
In the five-seat SUV set, the Mazda CX-5 out-points the 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander across all three engines. The Mazda CX-5 also features a conventional six-speed auto, and it’s a compelling choice following its recent facelift - so have a good look at the CX-5 if you need a five-seat SUV.
Frankly, Mazda is punching very well above its weight right now - like Honda did in the 1990s - and since the global financial crisis, Mazda has stormed ahead in the manner that many other carmakers just have not. (Mitsubishi, Honda, GM Holden, Ford, etc., can't turn a trick since the GFC - but Mazda has strong entrants in small and medium SUVS (CX-3 and CX-5 respectively) plus a cracking good small car (Mazda3) and even smaller car (Mazda2) and a damn fine ute (BT-50). The only one looking sad and unloved at the moment is the large SUV (CX-9) - it's as old as the Nazareth Under-15s soccer ball Jesus used to kick around at weekends.
- Read my Mazda CX-5 report here >>
Mitsubishi Outlander -Vs- Nissan X-TRAIL
If you're looking at a new Mitsubishi Outlander, by definition you're also in the market for a Nissan X-TRAIL. This pair are extremely close competitors.
The petrol engines are line-ball between the Mitsubishi Outlander and Nissan X-TRAIL, but Outlander’s 2.2-litre diesel absolutely eclipses Nissan’s 1.6-litre diesel in X-TRAIL.
Of course, Nissan’s X-TRAIL lineup is comprehensively drugged out of its head on seven-seat availability (there's no seven-seat plus AWD combination). Mitsubishi’s, lineup, by comparison, is remarkably rational. Both of these vehicles offer seating in the third row for occasional use only - it's hardly spacious up the back.
The other serious red flag for Nissan is its recent spate of CVT reliability issues: Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosen recently had a significant public spray at Jatco, which makes the Nissan CVT (and which Nissan owns 75 per cent of), as well as rearranging the corporate deckchairs and putting a new boss from North America in the top chair at Jatco. Nissan says its CVT reliability issues are in the past - and I guess we'll just have to see if that's true.
Read my Nissan X-TRAIL report here >>
SUV ... OR CAR? WHICH IS BEST?
Finally, if you don’t need seven seats, but you want a wagon for the family, why not just buy a car? I’m not being flippant. People don’t ask themselves why they’re actually buying an SUV. You can get a Mazda6 Touring (the station wagon) for the same approximate price as an XLS 2.4 Outlander. And I know SUVs are the haute couture of the family motoring set, currently, but you could mount a compelling argument that the wagon would suit many families better, and be a better car. Because, knock me down with a feather, it’s actually a car. A lot of people presume they want an SUV without having a real hard think about it.
And, because buying a new car does suck: If you’re in the market, send me a message or click on the link below. It’s pretty easy to save thousands off the manufacturer’s drive-away price on any car. Ask me how. Don’t believe that crap car dealers spin about there being no profit in new cars any more - just look at all the glass and all the chrome at the dealership’s prime real estate. Someone's paying the big bills - but it doesn't have to be you.