Written by: Sammy Chan
Photography by: Sammy Chan
The call of the marketplace is hard to ignore, and where SUVs are concerned it’s pretty loud right now, so loud that even the die-hard French has caught on the act. In France, one can now start shopping for an off-roader from one of the PSA dealerships, make it two in fact, in the form of the Citroen C-Crosser and the Peugeot 4007. Credit Mitsubishi for helping the French to break through that mold, because both are basically rebadges of the outstanding Mitsubishi Outlander. On sale in Canada since February this year, this second generation Outlander is truly an amazing product, so much so that it has set a record breaking month for Mitsubishi in sales in Canada and inevitably a record breaking 2007 as well.
The first gen Outlander was easy to like and drive, but it has never been a serious contender in the compact SUV segment. Armed with a powerful V6 engine and clothed in a distinctive sporty shell, the all-new Outlander has quickly become the easy target for many buyers in its category. It has everything a buyer would want. Besides being pretty and powerful, it is also equipped with serious AWD machinery and in the top model, a stowable third row seat that many families would rather have than without. And that’s before one look at the price.
Starting at a mere $25,498, the Outlander will handily beat the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V and the new Nissan Rogue by boasting a V6 engine and a state-of-the-art 6-speed automatic transmission. It is available in two trims: LS and XLS. The entry-level LS is also offered in front-wheel drive and in four-wheel drive versions, the latter is priced at $26,748 while the 4WD XLS is listed at $32,998.
Longer, wider and taller than the model it replaces, the new Outlander is sporty and athletic in appearance. An aggressive, diamond shaped front end and boldly sculpted fender flares evoke strong visual cues of off-road capability while the LED aftermarket-like clear taillights help to tidy things up by identifying it with the upscale and trendy crowd. This is further enhanced on XLS models with its silver skid plate, silver roof rails, silver door handles as well as twin chrome tailpipes. Rear opening is divided into an upper hatch and a lower drop-down tailgate. The lower clamshell can apparently support up to 400 lb weight making it a safe and handy solution for all kinds of outdoor activities.
Gone is the 2.4-litre four banger of past models. All Outlanders are now powered by a new 3.0-litre SOHC aluminum V6 engine capable of producing a healthy 220 hp @6250 rpm and decent torque rating of 204 lb-ft at 4000 rpm. The engine is well matched to a 6-speed automatic transmission (Sportronic) which like most automatic these days is also equipped with a manual mode to allow gear changes dictated by the driver. Knowing that some drivers might be turned off by having to push the shifter to the left before engaging manual mode, Mitsubishi engineers have installed huge paddle shifters on both sides of the steering wheel to stir up your enthusiasm, however, it’s only XLS buyers who will benefit from this extra dose of excitement at least for now.
One might argue that if you have a powerful and responsive motor, all you need to do is to step on the gas. That’s true to a large extent, but there’s no denying that "self" shifting is fun especially in quick passing maneuvers when stomping on the gas pedal is both socially and environmentally unfriendly. Response from the V6 engine is rather hesitant at start, but once on the go, acceleration becomes strong and smooth. While in manual, the transmission will not shift itself even if the engine spins merrily and sticks at around 6900 rpm. Having 6 gears instead of 5 would result in better fuel consumption and the Outlander does not disappoint. Cruising at 100 km/h, the engine churns at a lowly 1900 rpm in 6th gear. Fuel consumption figures for the LS 2WD is City 12.0 L/100 km and Highway 8.1 L/100 km while the XLS is rated at 12.2 and 8.5 respectively.
Consistent with its rugged exterior image, the new Outlander’s all-wheel drive system is now more sophisticated than before providing the driver with three different selections: 2WD, 4WD and Lock via a round dial located behind the transmission lever. 2WD means front-wheel drive exclusively. In 4WD mode, most of the power is still delivered to the front wheels until slippage occurs prompting the system to redirect power to the rear. Putting it in Lock will create a 50/50 front/rear power split and should only be attempted when the vehicle is in tough terrains and moving at a slow pace.
Ride and handling have been much improved thanks to the lengthened wheelbase and stiffened body structure. An aluminum roof is also used to lower the center of gravity to achieve better handling response. The steering provides good and communicative feedback making the Outlander that much more enjoyable to drive. Suspension is compliant and absorbs bumps and road irregularities well. Active Skid and Traction Control is standard.
Increase in body size and particularly the wheelbase has enabled Mitsubishi engineers install a 3rd row seat for buyers who might need this "just in case" feature. Unless your kids really want to be at a furthest distance away from you, the hammock-type cushion and cramped legroom would have them cry foul play all the way. Nonetheless, this convenient feature has also elevated the Outlander to a playing field previously dictated by the Toyota RAV4. Although headroom is tight for tall passengers in the 2nd row, legroom is generous once the seats are slid backwards. Seatbacks can also recline to enhance comfort.
The twin dome hood that house the gauges is probably the only similarity that would remind you of the old. The interior has grown not only volumetrically but also in depth and in maturity. In XLS trim, silver accents abound- around the gauges, air vents, climate control knobs, steering wheel and the centre tunnel. There are lots of cup holders and storage areas and the one above the dash is handy for hiding valuables as it is not easily detected. It’s also a treat to see a 115V 3-plong electrical plug inside the arm rest. My tester is also loaded with a 30-gigabyte hard disk drive navigation system, 650-watt Rockford-Fosgate Premium Audio system and a DVD rear seat entertainment system with a nine-inch wide-format LCD screen, bringing the price up to $36,998.
The compact SUV segment where the Mitsubishi Outlander belongs has seen many more newcomers this year with the addition of Nissan Rogue and at the higher end, the Land Rover LR2 and Infiniti EX. As well rounded and as competent as it is, the Outlander scores big on many front. It’s also backed by one of the most comprehensive warranty in the industry. Looks like its elevation from also-ran to top contender status is here to stay.
型号 Model: 2007 Mitsubishi Outlander XLS
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $32,998
Price as Tested: $36,998
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2670
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4640 / 1800 / 1680
引擎 Engine: 2998cc SOHC 24V V-6
最大馬力 Horsepower-HP: 220 / 6250rpm
最高扭力 Torque-LB-FT: 204 / 4000rpm
波箱 Transmission: 6-speed automatic
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
前懸 Suspension-Front: MacPherson strut
後懸 Suspension-Rear: Multi-link
煞制-前 Brakes-Front: Vented disc
煞制-後 Brakes-Rear: Solid disc
循跡操控系统 ABS/Traction Control: Standard
輪胎尺碼 Tires: XLS Goodyear Eagle LS2 225/55R 18