Mitsubishi ASX Review (2012-2017)

The Mitsubishi ASX has more space inside than most small SUVs and drives nicely. This review covers cars on sale prior to the MY18 facelift of September 2017.

Mitsubishi ASX 2017 Main 2 Jpg
Score breakdown
Safety, value and features
Comfort and space
Engine and gearbox
Ride and handling
Things we like
  •   Plenty of equipment
  •   Five-year warranty
  •   Spacious interior
Not so much
  •   Tyre noise

What stands out?

The ASX has more space inside than most small SUVs and drives nicely on country roads, with a comfortable ride, good steering and plenty of power – especially in diesel form. All-wheel drive is available, and Mitsubishi’s smallest SUV comes with a five-year warranty. Sharp prices often make it great value.

This review covers the ASX on sale prior to September 2017. You can also read our review of the current ASX.

What might bug me?

Tyre roar at high speeds.

Loading CDs in the more expensive, XLS models. The loading slot is behind the touchscreen, which tilts forward at the press of a button.

Driving at 80km/h on the space saver spare until you can fix your full-sized flat tyre.

What body styles are there?

Five-door wagon only.

Petrol-powered versions of the ASX drive only the front wheels, while diesel models drive all four wheels.

The ASX is classified as a small SUV, lower priced.

What features does every Mitsubishi ASX have?

Cruise control, a reversing camera and rear parking sensors. Air-conditioning that maintains a set temperature.

A leather-wrapped steering wheel, adjustable for reach and height, that carries buttons for operating the cruise control, the sound system and your phone. Height adjustment for the driver’s seat.

A colour touchscreen for controlling infotainment functions, and an iPod and MP3 compatible sound system with AM/FM and digital (DAB) radio, CD player, and USB input. Bluetooth connectivity for phone calls and audio streaming.

Hill-start assist, which controls the brakes automatically to help you take off from rest on uphill slopes.

Wheels made from an aluminium alloy, which are lighter than steel wheels and look nicer. A space-saver steel spare wheel.

Seven airbags: two in front of the driver and front passenger; one in each front seat to protect the body from side impacts; a curtain airbag along each side to protect heads from side impacts; and a driver’s knee airbag.

Electronic stability control, which can help control a skidding car. All new cars must have this feature.

The ASX is covered by a five-year, 100,000km warranty.

Which engine uses least fuel, and why wouldn't I choose it?

The 2.2-litre turbocharged diesel, which uses 6.0 litres/100km in official tests (city and country combined), is the most fuel-efficient engine in an ASX. It also feels more powerful than the alternative petrol engine in everyday driving.

One reason you might not choose the diesel is that you want to pay less for the car, and don’t need all-wheel drive. (Both ASX diesel models have AWD and automatic transmission.)

The diesels also cost more to service. And you need to get them up near highway speeds for at least a 20-minute stretch every couple of weeks to clear the particulate filter in the exhaust, so they are not suited to constant short trips around town.

The 2.0-litre petrol engine uses about 25 per cent more fuel than the diesel.

That petrol engine comes with a five-speed manual gearbox or a continuously variable (CVT) automatic, which brings better performance and fuel economy than most conventional autos.

The diesel engine drives through a six-speed conventional auto.

What key features do I get if I spend more?

There are two petrol models, both front-wheel drive. The more expensive petrol ASX costs about as much as the less expensive of the two diesels, which are both all-wheel drive.

So, one pair of features you can get if you spend more is a diesel engine and AWD.

Having chosen petrol front-drive or diesel AWD, you can think about other features. You can get either engine in an ASX LS (which has the features shared by all models), or an ASX XLS.

In spending more for an XLS you get smart key entry, which allows you unlock the car by pressing a button on the door handle when the key is nearby (for example, in a pocket or bag). There are leather seats, heated in front and power-adjustable for the driver. Windscreen wipers operate automatically if it rains. Headlights switch on automatically at night or in tunnels.

XLS models also have a larger touchscreen (7.0-inches versus 6.1) with satellite-navigation, and a big sunroof that stretches over the front and rear seats.

Does any upgrade have a down side?

The diesel engine costs more to service.

White is the only standard colour; the other six hues cost extra.

How comfortable is the ASX?

The controls and displays in the ASX are logically laid out, from the circular speedo and tachometer to the buttons on the steering wheel for phone and audio functions. A trio of knobs makes it easy to adjust air flow.

Up front, the seats are comfy in city driving but they don’t have much lateral support, which means more bracing with your legs if you’re on a twisting road in the country.

While wind noise is kept at bay, noise from the tyres can be testing on country roads or at freeway speeds. The diesel engine clatters a bit, too.

The petrol engine, which is more popular, feels lethargic initially but builds pace enthusiastically once the car gets moving.

The ASX does a good job of soaking up bumps at open-road speeds. Around town it is less subtle in the way it deals with surface imperfections.

What about safety in an ASX?

There is good airbag coverage all around, and the standard rear parking sensors and reversing camera raise safety levels by giving a better understanding of what’s behind. Front foglights double as daytime running lights to make your car more visible to others.

On XLS versions, the auto headlamps switch on in dim light even if the driver forgets, and auto-wipers reduce driver fatigue and distraction.

Automatic emergency braking is not available on an ASX, however.

The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) has rated the ASX’s safety at its maximum five stars.

I like driving - will I enjoy this car?

The two engines available in the ASX deliver respectable performance without being exciting. The petrol engine is hamstrung in manual gearbox form by having only five ratios, which don’t always allow you to work it at its optimal speed. The CVT auto does a better job of maximising the propulsion available.

The diesel has more urge in everyday driving and the six-speed conventional auto shifts decisively, ensuring good forward progress.

The ASX is predictable through bends but leans significantly when cornering quickly, which sets up more dramatic movement from the body if you are faced immediately with a turn to the opposite side. Steering is light and accurate. You will feel some annoying kickback through the wheel if you hit bumps in the middle of a corner.

Overall, though, the ASX inspires confidence on country roads and freeways. Tyres grip well and the body settles quickly after bumps.

All-wheel drive versions of the ASX are light-duty off-roaders designed predominantly for on-road use: think snowy or muddy roads and easy tracks and trails. If you are planning to go off-road it would be worth optioning the full-sized spare tyre.

How is life in the rear seats?

Small SUVs are not designed to transport lots of children, but the ASX has more rear-seat space than most, with good head and leg room that makes it viable as a family chariot. Dedicated vents feed cooling or heating to the rear passengers.

There’s a hump on the centre of the floor, but the rear seat base is relatively flat, making it fairly comfortable for the person in the middle.

That centre seatbelt can be retracted into the side of the inner roof, allowing the seats to be folded more easily. However, if you do that, it must be fastened with two separate buckles.

How is it for carrying stuff?

The boot is relatively broad, with a wide opening that sits high off the ground, so there’s no need to bend over to lift things out. A 60/40 split-fold rear seatback improves loading flexibility.

When folded, the seatbacks are on a slight angle but still create a long load area that will easily accommodate a bicycle.

Pockets in the front doors will cater for a large bottle and other odds and ends. But the centre console’s main open storage is in the twin cupholders. There is a covered binnacle under the central arm rest.

Petrol-powered models can tow 1300kg, while those powered by the diesel engine are rated at 1400kg. That is good for a small SUV.

Where is the Mitsubishi ASX made?

All models of the Mitsubishi ASX are produced in Japan.

What might I miss that similar cars have?

Seatbelt warnings for the rear seats, as fitted to the Mazda CX-3, Renault Captur and Honda HR-V.

Active safety features, such as automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning or blind spot warning. (Auto emergency braking uses sensors to detect obstacles in front – typically another vehicle that has slowed suddenly – and can apply the brakes automatically to prevent a collision.) Such systems are available with the Toyota C-HR, Mazda CX-3 and Honda HR-V, for example.

Perhaps support for Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, which would allow you to display some apps from your compatible smartphone on the car’s touchscreen and control them from there. The Suzuki Vitara offers this, for example.

Other cars you might consider include the Ford EcoSport, Holden Trax, and Subaru XV.

When did Mitsubishi update this ASX?

The current ASX arrived in 2010 and received a significant update in 2012. In June 2015 the wheel size was increased an inch to 18 inches and digital radio reception was added. In November 2016, a very minor facelift brought fresh nose styling, revised interior trim, and adjustments to touchscreen menus.

In September 2017 this car was replaced with a facelifted ASX that brought support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto phone integration, and made auto braking available - among other changes.

I like this car, but I can’t choose which version. Can you help?

We like the ASX LS 2WD with a petrol engine and automatic transmission. The CVT auto does a good job, while the LS with petrol propulsion is good buying – and significantly cheaper than the AWD diesel.
Score breakdown
Safety, value and features
Comfort and space
Engine and gearbox
Ride and handling
Things we like
  •   Plenty of equipment
  •   Five-year warranty
  •   Spacious interior
Not so much
  •   Tyre noise


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