Previous Outlanders have never been standout performers in the increasingly competitive medium SUV segment, but they’ve sold solidly due to their appealing seven-seat practicality and good value.
The latest, improved Outlander continues in both two- and four-wheel-drive versions and finally gets a diesel, a smooth and quiet new 110kW/360Nm 2.2-litre intercooled turbo four with pleasing driveability and combined fuel consumption of 5.8L/100km.
Happily, too, it’s linked to a six-speed automatic, which outshines the CVT used with Outlander petrol engines.
Other engine choices are a (new-to-Outlander) MIVAC 110kW/190Nm 2.0-litre petrol four which, in manual form, returns excellent 7.0L/100km economy. The MIVAC 124kW/220Nm 2.4-litre petrol is carried over.
Also fixed with the all-new range are past areas of criticism, namely interior quality, and most NVH issues.
Outlander project leader Mitsuyoshi Hattori acknowledged the need to improve active safety, and the new model is more assertive dynamically without an annoying trade-off in ride comfort.
Its progress over gravel roads or pockmarked bitumen is firm but well controlled. Despite engineers conducting driveability and NVH tests in Australia, tyre roar on coarse-chip bitumen is obvious in all Outlanders.
The safety gear adds up to a five-star ANCAP crash-safety rating.
Space isn’t compromised, even with seven seats. The two pop-up dicky seats, now with standard-sized seat cushions, pull out easily and are put away just as simply. They’re more than cosy enough for kids.
The regular rear seats are surprisingly comfortable for long-legged adults with lots of knee, leg and head room. The versatile split-fold seats can be arranged to optimise loads/people, too.
There are three variants: entry-level ES, mid-range LS and the well-equipped Aspire.
All models have a full-sized spare but it’s under the cargo floor area (to open up more space for that third row of seats).
A plug-in 4WD hybrid variant with twin electric motors will be here mid-year.