Mitsubishi Outlander Aspire Diesel: The Best Outlander?

profileMitsubishi has had the Outlander nameplate for close to a decade now and it’s certainly proving, in its current model, to be a popular choice. A recent trip from Sydney to the Australian Alps and back via the coast in another brand’s family aimed vehicle allowed the eyeballs to note a high density of SUVs on the roads and a pretty decent percentage of those where Outlanders. A Wheel Thing was given three in a row, finishing up with the diesel powered Aspire and handed it back with a wry smile.

dieselThe Aspire diesel has a somewhat smallish sounding 2.2L donk, but there’s a more than decent 360Nm of torque on tap from a usable 1500 to 2750 rpm rev range, with max power at 3500rpm being 110kw. There is a minor hiccup at the lower end of the numbers; as it’s a light switch off then on torque delivery and with a predominantly front wheel drive bias it can leave the unaware driver wondering what’s happened. Being the Aspire it does have the three mode, switchable, all wheel drive system, to take advantage of the good twist. When the Aspire hooks up, acceleration is rapid and the six speed auto swings through the gears with alacrity. It’s also a drivetrain geared towards highway economy, with a best of 5.8L/100 seen on a freeway run. In suburbia, expect that figure to double and therein lies the rub. More on that later. It’s reasonably quiet under load, noticeably diesel but not nearly as aurally harsh as offerings from other companies. Nor does it really have to work overly hard, with a kerb weight of under 1650 kilograms and the torque is more than enough for the 2 tonne towing capacity. It’s compact at 4.6 metres long and a tick under 1.7 metres in height, with smart packaging providing plenty of space for the interior.

Ride and handling are superb; the dampers and springs are calibrated to give a firm yet supple ride, undulations are absorbed, bumps arerear frontdespatched, the bigger speed humps still trouble the short front suspension travel but it’s a more than competent package on the road. Throw it into a sharp turn and feel minimal body roll; toss it hard into a roundabout and the front end leads the rear around nicely; understeer is negligible and oversteer simply doesn’t exist. Since this version of the Outlander was released (third generation), it’s had some incremental changes to the suspension and it’s worked wonders for this updated release.
The three mode AWD system is all electronic, a simple push button locks in AWD, torque split on demand or front wheel drive. It’s simple, effective, painless and lets the driver know via a simple graphic on the colour LCD screen in front of the driver. It’s a traditional six speed auto, with paddle shifts on the column as normal and it works well with smooth changes and well calibrated electronics helping the cause.

tumblefoldtumblefold2The interior is comfortable without being overly dressed; machine made leather for the seats, heating for the front pews, seven inch touchscreen navitainment, subdued plastic trim (same as LS, needs more pizzaz), a decent feel to the tiller, third row sets folded flat, Mitsubishi’s typical high quality ergonomics….except for the centre console lid lip overhanging too far (somewhat blocking access to the heater switches for the seats) and the previously mentioned location of the interior door handles (see the LS review) mar an otherwise well thought out cabin. The rear seats have a flat fold mechanism, not quite as easy to utilise as the fabled tumble fold setup from the late-mid noughties, but functionally simple cargo2cargoonce tried a couple of times. A need to home deliver a new washing machine was made painless by this and the 1600 odd litres of cargo space as a result. Multimedia is covered via USB and there’s Bluetooth as well. Aspire is the top of the tree, it does get a sunroof however I’d like to see the addition of a roof mounted DVD screen to add to the family package.

The exterior is largely unchanged since this version was launched however some minor amendments have sharpened the look; being the top wheeltier model it has premium paint and very pretty looking 18 inch alloys. However, that size is common across the range, perhaps 19 inch alloys to give some visual difference would help. The plastic trim across the electric tailgate (still prone to not responding to the remote fob) would also help if it were removed or colour coded, having the same or similar colour across the range just doesn’t seem to suit.

Dollar for dollar (July 2014 sees the Aspire listing at $49K) it’s a well kitted, very usable vehicle. The diesel, well, there’s the rub. It’s a value engine, providing immense drivability and good fuel economy on long runs. However, diesels need long runs to be efficient and they also need a good run to burn out the accumulated soot that gets trapped in the exhaust filter system. If kept to a strictly suburban diet, economy becomes worse than a petrol of similar size and the filter doesn’t get hot enough for the system to breathe efficiently. Because it’s such good value and, frankly, a better drive and ride than the LS, it’s almost the best Outlander. The bit that stops it being the best is the diesel; in the wrong hands, so to speak, it’s the wrong engine. Used properly, it’s nearly impossible to beat.
For info on the Outlander:
and for pricing speak to Private Fleet or go here:
Here’s my video review as well:

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