2021 Mitsubishi Outlander review

The Mitsubishi Outlander is a medium SUV that can seat up to seven. Smartphone integration is excellent, and auto braking is widely available. You can have petrol or diesel power.

2019 Mitsubishi Outlander Exceed Jpg
Score breakdown
Safety, value and features
Comfort and space
Engine and gearbox
Ride and handling
Things we like
  •   Seven seat option
  •   Space
  •   Equipment
  •   Warranty
  •   Auto-braking
Not so much
  •   Doesn’t steer as nicely as many alternatives

What stands out?

The Mitsubishi Outlander is one of the few mid-sized SUVs to offer seven-seats. Autonomous emergency braking is available as is a choice of petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid powertrains, and you can have front or all-wheel drive. Every Outlander has excellent smartphone integration – which includes support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The warranty is five years.

Mitsubishi Outlander

What might bug me?

In seven-seaters, that passengers in the third-row seats are not protected by airbags from side crashes.

If you’re upgrading from the previous generation Outlander, you might miss the convenience of having a horizontally split tailgate, which has been replaced by a single tailgate hinged from the top. The previous design made it easy to load small items by flipping up the top half, while the flipped-down lower half provided a handy place to sit.

What body styles are there?

Five-door SUV-type wagon only, with seating for either five or seven people.

As well as Outlanders with petrol and diesel engines, Mitsubishi offers a five-seat Outlander PHEV that has a petrol-electric hybrid drivetrain, can be charged from a home power outlet, and can be driven in electric-only mode for about 50km.

This review does not cover that car, which received a significant upgrade in 2017 and update in late-2020 for more kit, safety and the ability to return energy to the grid from the plug-in outlet.

The Outlander is available in front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive versions, and it is classed as a medium SUV, lower priced.

Mitsubishi Outlander

What features do all Outlanders have?

  • Cruise control.

  • Dual-zone climate control (which allows the driver and front passenger to set their own temperatures).

  • All automatic Outlander variants are equipped with autonomous emergency braking, which Mitsubishi calls Forward Collision Mitigation.

  • An MP3 compatible sound system with AM/FM and digital radio, USB inputs (front and rear seats), Bluetooth connectivity for phone calls and audio streaming, and voice control.

  • A touchscreen with Mitsubishi’s Smartphone Link Display Audio, which allows you to display some apps from compatible phones on the screen and control them from there (via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto).
Mitsubishi Outlander interior
  • A leather-trimmed steering wheel and gear shift handle, and controls on the wheel for operating the cruise control, speed limiter, the sound system and your phone.

  • Power-operated lumbar support for the driver’s seat.

  • A reversing camera, and rear parking sensors.

  • Dusk-sensing headlights, rain-sensing windscreen wipers and auto-dimming rear-view mirror.

  • Hill-start assist, which helps you take off on uphill slopes by controlling the brakes for you.

  • Long-lived LED daytime running lights and taillights. Windows tinted to reduce sun penetration. Roof rails, which make it easier to fit rooftop luggage systems.

  • Eighteen-inch aluminium alloy wheels, and a full-size spare wheel.

  • Seven airbags. Electronic stability control, which can help the driver to control a skidding car.

  • Almost any Outlander can be purchased with a Safety Pack (ADAS) that comprises adaptive cruise control (which can match the speed of a vehicle in front automatically), autonomous emergency braking, Lane departure warning, and headlamps that switch to low beam by themselves when required. (The exceptions are the least costly Outlander, the ES 2WD five-seat with a manual gearbox, and the least costly seven-seater, the ES 2WD seven-seat auto.) (For the placement of airbags, and for more on Outlander safety systems, please open the Safety section below.)

  • Every Mitsubishi Outlander carries a five-year, 100,000-kilometre warranty.

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

The Outlander PHEV, which uses a petrol-electric hybrid drivetrain and can be more fuel-efficient than diesel Outlanders in urban driving. This review does not cover that car, as it has evolved separately to the rest of the Outlander range.

The most fuel-efficient conventional engine in an Outlander is the 2.2-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder, which uses 6.2 litres/100km on the official test (city and country combined). This is a very good engine that propels the car effortlessly. In the real world you can expect to average about 8 Litres/100km.

One reason you might not choose this engine is that you want your Outlander mainly for city driving, and usually for short trips. Its exhaust has a particulate filter (which traps soot before it can pollute the air), and you need to spend 30 minutes at highway speeds every week or two so that it can self-clean.

The other reason you might not choose the diesel is that you want to pay less for your Outlander. The diesels are among the most expensive Outlanders, and come only with an automatic gearbox and all-wheel drive.

Mitsubishi Outlander

The remaining engines are the 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol found in front-wheel drive Outlanders, and the bigger 2.4-litre version in petrol AWD Outlanders. Both use about 7.0 litres/100km in the official test. The 2.4 is slightly thirstier than the 2.0 and noticeably more powerful, although it does not propel the Outlander as effortlessly as the diesel seems to.

In a real-world comparison conducted for the June 2017 issue of Wheels magazine, a 2.0-litre petrol Outlander LS auto averaged 10.7 litres/100km, about the same as the 2.0-litre petrol Hyundai Tucson, Mazda CX-5, and Toyota RAV4, and a 1.5-litre turbo-petrol Ford Escape.

Petrol Outlanders offer the option of a five-speed manual transmission (in the least costly model, the ES 2WD, only) or a continuously variable (CVT) auto. The diesels drive only through a six-speed conventional auto.

You can read more about the Outlander PHEV range's powertrains, specifications and pricing here.

What key features do I get if I spend more?

Outlanders come in five-seat or seven-seat form. The least costly is the five-seat ES 2WD, which comes with the less powerful of the two petrol engines, cloth seats, and a five-speed manual gearbox.

Every other Outlander has an auto gearbox, which gain an electric park brake and heating and cooling vents on the back of the centre console for passengers in the second row. Upgrading to an automatic Outlander also brings autonomous emergency braking, which Mitsubishi calls Forward Collision Mitigation.

If you are happy with just five seats, you can spend more for an ES ADAS 2WD, which brings you windscreen wipers that operate automatically when it rains, headlights that switch themselves on when it’s getting dark, and the active safety suite (active cruise control, lane departure warning, and auto low-beam). In addition, you can power-fold the exterior mirrors to keep them out of harm’s way.

Mitsubishi Outlander

Spending more again on a five-seater gets you an ES ADAS AWD, which has the same features but drives all four wheels with the more powerful, 2.4-litre, petrol engine.

If you need seven seats, your choices begin with the ES 2WD auto. It comes with the third seat-row, the less powerful, 2.0-litre, petrol engine, and the power-folding mirrors, but none of the extra equipment supplied with the ADAS versions.

The next price-step in a seven-seater takes you to the ES AWD, which gets you all-wheel drive and the more powerful petrol engine.

Spending more on a seven-seater Outlander LS retains AWD and brings you either the ADAS pack on its own (with accompanying auto wipers and headlights), or all that plus the diesel engine. The LS also brings four-way power seat adjustment, with the exterior enhanced by a rear spoiler.

The most expensive Outlander is the Exceed, a seven-seater which comes in petrol (2.4-litre) or diesel form, in each case with AWD. An Exceed has all the Safety Pack features, and a bigger 8.0-inch touchscreen with inbuilt satellite navigation.

It also has a smart key, which can remain safely in your bag or pocket while you unlock the car, start it and drive away. Inside, there are part-leather seats, heated front seats, a power-adjusted driver’s seat, and a classy looking gloss black instrument panel. Overhead is a powered sunroof.

Exterior cameras offer views from all sides and above. And there are three additional active safety features: a Blind spot warning, Lane change assist, and Rear cross-traffic alert. (For more on Outlander safety systems, please open the Safety section below.)

Does any upgrade have a down side?

White is the only standard colour: all others cost extra.

How comfortable is the Outlander?

The Outlander has cushy suspension that absorbs bumps well, which helps make it a comfortable car.

The cabin and dashboard are among the best from Mitsubishi, with frequent use of soft-touch materials and classy, gloss black finishes.

The seats offer good lateral support and the cloth seat trim itself is comfortable and will likely wear well. The leather-faced seats on the Exceed, which are trimmed in a combination of leather and synthetic fabric, will be easier to keep clean than the cloth.

The driver’s seating position feels a bit high – even though its height is adjustable – but otherwise the ergonomics are sound. It is easy to find an agreeable position thanks to a steering column that you can tailor for angle and reach, and especially with the powered seat adjustment in the most expensive versions.

What about safety in an Outlander?

All Outlanders have stability control, a reversing camera, rear parking sensors, and seven airbags.

Two airbags are placed immediately ahead of the driver and front passenger; one is ahead of the driver at knee level; two more protect the driver and front passenger from side impacts at chest level; and two curtain airbags protect passengers in the first and second seat rows from side impacts at head level.

Only the front seats have seatbelt reminders, however. And in seven-seat Outlanders, the curtain airbags do not protect passengers in the third-row of seats.

All Outlanders except for the cheapest, manual, version come with Forward Collision Mitigation that scans the road ahead for obstacles – typically a braking car – and warns you that you must take action to avoid a crash. If you ignore the warning, it applies the brakes automatically.

‘ADAS’ Outlanders add a layer of active driving aids, based on radar and video sensors. Active cruise control can maintain you at a safe distance from the vehicle ahead on a highway. Lane Departure Warning monitors road markings at highway speeds, and alerts you if you are drifting into an adjacent lane – perhaps from distraction or fatigue.

Mitsubishi Outlander

The Outlander Exceed enhances these with systems that look behind you. Blind Spot Warning and Lane Change Assist help you avoid changing lanes into the path of adjacent or overtaking vehicles. Rear Cross-Traffic Alert works when you are reversing out of a parking spot or driveway: it tells you if a vehicle is about to cross behind you.

A bonus on the Exceed is low-speed intervention when you’re parking, or otherwise manoeuvring at close quarters. If you press the accelerator mistakenly when very close to an obstacle in front or behind, the car will brake automatically.

The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) awarded the Mitsubishi Outlander its maximum five-star rating for safety, most recently in May 2015.

I like driving - will I enjoy this car?

Driving pleasure ranks behind practicality, comfort, and light off-roading ability in many sports utility vehicles, and this is also the case in the Outlander. Mid-sized alternatives the Mazda CX-5 and Ford Escape, for example, are much more fun to drive.

The Outlander’s steering has been traditionally short on feel and consistency, which you notice more on challenging roads with plenty of corners.

This again was tweaked for 2019 model year, with Mitsubishi promising improved response and feel, while the suspension has been adjusted to improve ride comfort and body control. We’ll see if they’ve succeeded once we get a chance to drive the updated model.

That said, the Outlander’s suspension and tyres generate good grip, and if you’re not in a hurry the car is responsive and easy to handle. The GSR PHEV variant introduced in late 2020 also adds Bilstein suspension to bolster handling further in the hybrid range.

The turbo-diesel engine brings surging power from low speeds and is smooth and relatively quiet. It is preferable to the petrol engines for its extra performance, as well as for its economy. That it drives through a conventional automatic gearbox rather than a CVT is also a plus: the car responds more immediately to the accelerator, and the engine is quieter.

Even the smaller 2.0-litre petrol in 2WD Outlanders feels smooth and even spirited most of the time, however. Holding your cruising speed on long, steep climbs may put it under pressure.

All-wheel drive Outlanders offer superior traction and stability on wet, snowy, muddy and gravel roads, or on gentle tracks. They do not have the low-range gearing, ground-clearance or under-body protection required for negotiating rough off-road terrain. However, if you do get adventurous in your Outlander, you have the security of a full-sized spare tyre rather than merely a space-saver.

How is life in the rear seats?

The Outlander’s back seat is firm yet comfortable and it offers an adjustable backrest – although the most upright position is usually preferred. Mitsubishi introduced redesigned rear seats for the 2020 model year, which it says are more comfortable but we’re yet to test this.

There are dedicated ventilation ducts for rear passengers and a USB socket in the automatic versions.

Mitsubishi Outlander
Noise level from the tyres and suspension is higher for passengers in the third-row seats (where fitted) than it is further forward, and it would be a tight squeeze back there for adults. That said, the sixth and seventh seats are designed for children and are very useful to have.

How is it for carrying stuff?

The Outlander’s cargo area is big, with a large loading aperture and a one-piece, upwards opening tailgate.

The third row backrests split-fold 50/50 to create a flat floor. The second row tumbles forward 60/40, which opens up the big rear compartment.

There are numerous plastic underfloor storage bins in five-seaters, which are very useful for items such as drinks and wet swimwear.

Mitsubishi Outlander
Five-seaters can swallow 477 litres of luggage, or up to 1608 litres with the rear seatbacks folded. Seven seaters have only 128 litres left behind the third row, but match the five-seaters with all seats folded down.

Petrol Outlanders can legally tow up 1600kg (braked trailer), with a maximum towball download of 160kg. The diesels can tow a bit more: up to 2000kg, with towball load of 200kg.

Where does Mitsubishi make the Outlander?

The Mitsubishi Outlander is manufactured in Japan.

Mitsubishi Outlander

What might I miss that similar cars have?

If you expect to do mostly suburban driving, you might be interested in a petrol-electric hybrid drivetrain that you can charge from a home power outlet. Mitsubishi offers a five-seat Outlander PHEV that has this, allowing journeys of up to 50km on battery power – without starting the engine. It received a significant update in April 2017, LATE 2019 and then a teak in late 2020, and is available in LS, GSR and Exceed trim – the latter including active cruise control and auto braking. The PHEV is available in LS and Exceed trim.

Perhaps a more powerful, turbocharged, petrol engine, for easier overtaking on the highway. All Honda CR-Vs are turbo-petrol powered, for example, and a seven-seater is among them. The five-seat Ford Escape, Hyundai Tucson, and Subaru Forester also come in turbo-petrol form.

Maybe built-in satellite navigation. In an Outlander it’s bring your own – by linking your smartphone to the central screen via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. The Nissan X-Trail – which offers seven seats – is among several mid-sizers that have independent sat-nav. Others include the Mazda CX-5, Mazda CX-8 and Kia Sportage.

Bigger seven-seaters include the Mazda CX-9, Toyota Kluger, Hyundai Santa Fe, Kia Sorento and Skoda Kodiaq.

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

For an all-purpose family vehicle, the Outlander LS AWD diesel seven-seater is the pick of the range. The turbo-diesel is powerful and economical, brings a six-speed conventional auto rather than a CVT, drives all four wheels, and supplies an appealing level of equipment that includes adaptive cruise control and autonomous emergency braking.

Mitsubishi Outlander

Are there plans to update the Outlander soon?

Set to drop in 2021, the all-new Outlander will replace a car that’s more than a decade old, and originally based on a Mitsubishi Lancer platform.

As part of the Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi Alliance, Mitsubishi will – as outlined in this plan released last month – defer to Nissan when it comes to the underpinnings of the mid-sized Outlander, which will reportedly mirror those found underneath the next-generation X-Trail.

The current-generation Mitsubishi Outlander arrived in Australia in late 2012, and a significantly updated and restyled MY16 version arrived early in 2015.

2015 Mitsubishi Outlander First Drive Review
2015 Mitsubishi Outlander

About September 2016, Mitsubishi added a third seat row to the CVT LS 2WD, and replaced the mid-priced Outlander XLS with an AWD LS diesel. Safety pack variants with auto-braking were introduced, and touchscreen support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto was included with all petrol and diesel models.

A significantly improved petrol-electric hybrid Outlander PHEV arrived In April 2017, was updated in late 2019 and then tweaked in late 2020.

The range was again revamped for the 2018 model year in November 2017. The ES was introduced as the new least costly Outlander model, starting with the front-wheel-drive manual with five seats. The LS was pushed up the range, with the manual discontinued and the inclusion of the ADAS safety pack as standard.

Another soft update arrived in August 2018 for the 2019 model year, which brought improved steering and suspension, minor exterior design changes, and updated interior trims for the LS and Exceed Outlanders.

Automatic versions had their park brake handles replaced with an electronic parking brake switch, and opening windows was made a little easier with one-touch operation and illuminated switches

A mild upgrade was introduced in August 2019 for the 2020 model year that brought autonomous emergency braking to the ES 2WD seven-seater. Other additions included dusk-sensing headlights and rain-sensing windscreen wipers to the ES variants, plus driver’s seat lumbar support, redesigned back seat and overhead console with seat-belt reminder, passenger airbag cut off indicator and sunglass holder.

Score breakdown
Safety, value and features
Comfort and space
Engine and gearbox
Ride and handling
Things we like
  •   Seven seat option
  •   Space
  •   Equipment
  •   Warranty
  •   Auto-braking
Not so much
  •   Doesn’t steer as nicely as many alternatives


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