MITSUBISHI'S "outstanding" Outlander has arrived.
That's the catchcry the Japanese marque has adopted with its new sports utility vehicle which has a softer appearance and now a diesel for the first time with an automatic transmission.
Petrol derivatives arrived about a month ago, but the oil-burners have only just made their way into showrooms.
Prices have dropped across the range, starting from $28,990, and there are three variants - the entry-level ES, the mid-range LS and the luxury Aspire.
Excellent space is offered within a cabin featuring improved materials with a more upmarket feel.
Throughout the line-up there is a much improved cohesive feel with the use of glossy black trim around the touch-screen and stereo.
The front seats offer good support at the base and laterally, while those in the middle row also have ample leg, knee and head room.
Small adults can fit in the third row but probably only for short distances. It's accommodation best left for teenagers or younger children.
Up front there are two bottle holders in the centre, bottle holders in all doors, and a good storage spot in front of the gear shifter.
Five adults can fit in comfort, although three across the back seat would be pushing friendships.
On the road
There are three engine variants, a 2.0-litre or 2.4-litre petrol, or a 2.2-litre turbo-diesel. Only the 2.0-litre is available with a manual, while the 2.4 is restricted to a continuously variable automatic while the oil-burner is armed with a six-speed self-shifter.
All-wheel drive models corner surprisingly flat, and you can dig into bends without too much body roll.
The pick of the powerplants is the 2.2-litre turbo-diesel. It boasts burly mid-range performance in partnership with a six-speed automatic transmission.
While the petrol derivatives are serviceable, it's the oil-burner which offers best return for those wanting to tow or tackle steep terrain.
What do you get?
All models have a five-star ANCAP safety rating - which includes seven airbags, stability control and anti-lock brakes along with their associated technologies.
Standard kit on the ES includes 16-inch steel wheels, leather steering wheel and gear-shift knob, steering wheel controls for audio and Bluetooth, rear parking sensors, CD audio stereo with six speakers as well as climate controlled air-conditioning.
LS offers a seven-seat option, and also gains alloys, front fog lamps and tinted windows, dual-zone air-conditioning, 15cm full colour display audio system with touch panel and rear-view camera.
Range-topping Aspire offers 18-inch alloys, outer scuff plates and chrome accents on the belt-line moulding and on the door handles, auto wipers and lights, Smart Key with push button start, leather seats (front pews are heated and driver's has electric adjustment) along with wood print accents on the front door trims and instruments.
With the Aspire a $5500 Premium Pack is available and offers radar cruise control and Forward Collision Mitigation (detects obstacles on the road ahead of the car and automatically applies the brakes to prevent a collision), automatic tailgate, 17cm full colour display and touch panel as well as a Rockford Fosgate audio system.
Fuel consumption is good across the range, while insurance costs should be at the lower end of the scale.
Capped priced servicing is available and Mitsubishi has more than 200 dealers across the nation.
The middle row folds flat, although it takes some organisation, flipping the base up and then flicking a switch before dropping the seat back.
Under the floor in the boot is a handy storage space for wet or muddy gear - as well as a spot for the cargo blind. (Although the range-topping Aspire can't fit the blind in the allocated space because of the sub-woofer.)
While the previous Outlander had a two-piece rear door, this model has just one so you can't just open the window section to throw gear inside.
The petrol models have a towing capacity of 1600kg and diesel models can handle 2000kg.
Hard lines have been banished in favour of rounder, softer styling. Mitsubishi believes it broadens the appeal, with the main buyers expected to be families.
Picking an SUV nowadays is like splitting hairs and the new Outlander is right in the mix with a combination of value and flexibility.
Mitsubishi has come ahead in leaps and bounds with interior finishes, while cabin space is excellent.
The diesel is the engine of choice for its punchy performance, while the petrol pairing are honest and economical.
What matters most
The good stuff: Internal space, middle row leg room, storage space when seats folded flat, warranty.
What we'd like to see: Faster seat folding process, more refinement.
Warranty: Five-year or 130,000km and one-year roadside assist, but that extends to five if you maintain the servicing plan. Servicing costs are capped for four years, under 60,000km ($340 2WD, $360 4WD, $510 diesel).
The writer was Mitsubishi's guest in Victoria.
Model: Mitsubishi Outlander.
Details: Five-door mid-size two and all-wheel drive sports utility vehicle.
Engines: 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol generating maximum power of 110kW @ 6000rpm and peak torque of 190Nm @ 4200rpm; 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol 124kW @ 6000rpm and 220Nm @ 4200rpm.
Transmission: Five-speed manual or continuously variable automatic.
Consumption: 7.0 litres/100km (m) or 6.6L/100km (CVT); 7.5L/100km.
CO2: 161g/km; 174g/km.
Bottom line: 2WD ES 2.0L (m) $28,990; 2WD ES 2.0L (a) $31,240; 2WD LS 2.0L (a) $34,990; 4WD ES 2.4L (a) $33,990, 4WD LS 2.4L (a) $38,990; 4WD Aspire 2.4L (a) $43,490.
Details: Five-door mid-size all-wheel drive sports utility vehicle.
Engine: 2.2-litre turbo-diesel generating maximum power of 110kW @ 3500rpm and peak torque of 360Nm @ 1500rpm.
Transmission: Six-speed automatic.
Bottom line: LS $40,990, Aspire $45,490.
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