You’ve just got to love competition. From what was a long-standing domination by the venerable CR-V, the mid-size SUV segment is now awash with talent. In the recent past, Honda has had to fend off hard-hitters such as the Nissan X-Trail and Mazda CX-5. And now it has to contend with Mitsubishi as the new Outlander has just joined the fray.
Introduced globally in the late 2012, the Outlander is essentially the elder brother to the compact ASX (both are based on the same platform), but you wouldn’t be faulted if the existence of this three-row SUV (in other countries) somehow eluded your attention. Let’s face it, it has been a long while since Mitsubishi showed some styling adventurism, and the Outlander that debuted in 2012 simply made everyone go ‘meh’.
So for its midlife facelift, Mitsubishi deployed a new designer (poached from a competitor’s studio, according to the grapevine) tasked with giving the Outlander some much-needed styling panache, and the revised version you see here is actually the first Mitsubishi model to showcase the ‘Dynamic Shield’ front design.
While the overall profile of the Outlander still reeks of conservatism (note its tall wagon-ish look, not unlike an Audi Q7), the new frontal aesthetics are bold and expressive, you could say some homage is paid to Lexus’ spindle grille, but neither would you identify it as anything but a Mitsubishi. No doubt the amount of chrome and silver bits used is substantial, but the ‘bling’ actually works. Yes, new Triton should have looked more like this.
But styling aside, the attention-grabbing headlines are the Outlander’s ‘introductory’ price and its generous feature set. For RM166,720 (without insurance), you get LED headlamps and daytime running lights, a 2.4L four-cylinder petrol engine that churns out 167hp/222Nm through a CVT with six virtual ratios (which can be operated via steering column mounted paddles), an electronically-controlled multi-mode 4WD system, 18-inch alloys, sunroof, powered tail-gate, keyless entry with push-to-start button and security tinting.
While the interior design has remained largely unchanged, it does come with leather upholstery, dual-zone climate control, touch-screen head-unit with reverse camera, a best-in-class cargo space and seven airbags. But with a wheelbase of ‘only’ 2670mm, the Outlander’s third row is best suited for children, or adults with joints that are (still) limber, though the second row can be slid forward to create more room for the rearmost occupants.
Mitsubishi Motors Malaysia did not indicate how much the ‘normal’ price would eventually be, so as long as new owners register their Outlanders before 31st May (deliveries expected to start in April), the introductory price will apply. Considering that the Outlander is made in Japan and fully-imported as a CBU, we have to say that it is quite the bargain in the 2.4- to 2.5-litre class, if not the most outlandish-looking one as well.