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Mitsubishi Outlander 2.2 DI-D GX4 review (2010 onwards)
Model: Mitsubishi Outlander 2.2 DI-D GX4
Bodystyle: Five-door crossover SUV
Engine: 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo, diesel
Transmission: Six-speed manual, four-wheel drive
What is it?
The biggest of the family of cars on Mitsubishi's global platform that includes the Lancer and ASX, the Outlander is a crossover bridging the gap between the regular road car range and 'proper' 4x4s like the Shogun.
As such the Outlander can justifiably claim to share a bloodline with the Evo X, a tenuous link admittedly but more than can be said for rivals like the Nissan Qashqai+2 and reflected in the whiff of Evo exuded by the styling.
Lose the brand trademark 'jet fighter' nose and add a Citroën or Peugeot grille and the Outlander can be yours under a different name - respectively C-Crosser and 4007. But this is fundamentally a Mitsubishi and outsells the French alternatives by around 3:1 in both cases.
For 2011 the Outlander looks to further cement this sales advantage with the brand's latest 2.2-litre DI-D diesel engine. It's an expanded version of the smooth and economical 1.8 on the ASX and now available in a more efficient two-wheel-drive version for the first time.
Where does it fit?
Taller than a regular estate car or MPV and with a suggestion of off-roader toughness, the Outlander caters to those with a 4x4 fantasy while minimising the usual compromises in on-road ability the reality often brings.
So it's a more manageable size, doesn't use as much fuel and is less intimidating to drive than a Shogun, offers running costs closer to a regular Lancer and, ranging from £22,099 to £29,799, is not outrageously expensive.
The obvious rivals are, of course, its blood brothers the C-Crosser and 4007 and if you like the Outlander's concept it'd pay to look at all three and thoroughly number crunch the various offers and deals available. While you're at it drop by the Nissan dealer and look at the Qashqai+2.
The engine does, however, give the Outlander a clear USP. It's all-new, with 174hp (154hp on the auto SST model) being a significant step up from the 140hp and 228lb ft of the 2.0-litre diesel of the previous Outlander and 156hp 2.2-litre HDi used by the two related French alternatives.
Is it for you?
Given that it's 345mm longer than an ASX, the Outlander is clearly a significantly bigger car. The wheelbase is the same though, that extra size going into the boot and giving the Outlander space to accommodate seven people.
These Fold2Hide third-row seats are not, however, the full-size ones you'd get on a Ford S-Max or VW Sharan-style MPV and can only really be considered occasional seats when you've got a couple of extra bodies on the school run.
It's a welcome feature though and one that doesn't compromise the boot space when they're folded. And where the Outlander scores over an MPV is in that slightly cooler image and enough all-wheel drive security to keep it moving in all weathers.
The Lancer breeding also means it's a lot more car-like to drive than its outline would suggest. Indeed, from the outside it's got less of the size-based arrogance of full-size 4x4s while from the inside it's easy to park and manoeuvre.
What does it do well?
Mitsubishi loves an acronym or two and the one to remember on the Outlander is MIVEC for Mitsubishi's variable valve timing system. Its arrival on the 1.8 DI-D on the ASX was the first of its kind on a diesel.
And on the 2.2 it offers a similarly smooth nature helped by the fact it means a lower compression ratio than most other diesels. Too technical? Put simply, it means the engine runs quieter and with greater refinement and efficiency.
It still sounds like a diesel at low speeds and when cold but it's up with the best for refinement when under way and pulls strongly. Note that the dual-clutch SST auto version loses the MIVEC system and 20hp into the bargain.
It's a tidy car to drive too and a lot lighter on its feet than its looks would suggest. The extra suspension travel is welcome on bumpy roads and the ride and damping on the crisp side, the pay-off being manoeuvrability you wouldn't expect of a 4x4.
What doesn't it do well?
Like the 1.8-litre on which it's based, this new 2.2-litre Mitsubishi diesel is notably smooth and revvy and perfectly matched to the Outlander. It's just a shame a bit of throttle lag discourages any exploration of its abilities if you don't want every gear change heralded by a flare of revs.
And the lack of MIVEC and the power deficit on the SST auto seems a shame too. There's no escaping the fact the interior is a little plain and plasticky compared with European rivals, especially in the comparatively priced MPV sector.
What's it like to live with?
Mitsubishis are popular with their owners for that kind of unpretentious usefulness beloved of those who use their vehicles as a tool rather than a badge of rank or status. The Outlander just fits in and gets on with it.
Which sounds like damning with faint praise, but it isn't. True, it's probably not a car you'll fall in love with. But it's one you'll swiftly come to depend on, whether you're a country-dweller hauling dogs and wellies to country car parks or after a suburban school-run/supermarket partner.
Things like the drop-down tailgate are useful allusions to 'proper' off roaders and just as handy whether you need a perch to change out of muddy boots or somewhere to dump the shopping as you unload the trolley.
So long as you're realistic about the fact the third-row seats offer little more than occasional extra capacity rather than MPV-style seven-seater ability, the Outlander lives up to the promise of its crossover sales schtick.
How green is it?
Default two-wheel drive and the fact it's based on a regular car, not a hulking 4x4 gives the Outlander a lighter footprint than its outline would suggest. Indeed, the new 2WD-only version scores 162g/km and an official 46.3mpg.
Depending on the weight of our right foot we were approaching that kind of figure on a steady cruise though a small increase in speed soon sent that plunging. Eco tech to offset that includes low-rolling resistance tyres, energy recuperation under braking and electric power steering.
Would we buy it?
The Outlander isn't quite as stylish or trendy as the Qashqai+2 and nor does it share the Nissan's built-in-Britain appeal. But it's a strong rival and further enhanced by this new 2.2-litre diesel engine.
It nails the crossover format perfectly though, with just enough off-road style and ability for most without the aggressive demeanour or cumbersome size and road manners. And we'd take the Mitsubishi over the Peugeot or Citroën variants.
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