Car Advice

Reader help: towing with a diesel Mitsubishi Outlander and fuel consumption

A reader wants to know how much fuel might be saved by towing with a diesel… They’re considering a Mitsubishi Outlander.

Guys,

Have spent hours today reading your SUV reviews and responses to questions – it’s been fantastic.

Have been a Subaru (WRXs and lifted Foresters) nut since 1983. But have just had my 1st two negative experiences – towing a 1100kg camper trailer on the black top and seven weeks Brisbane to Tasmania and return, car only but it was fully loaded inside & on top. Forester is 09 XT Premium and fuel consumptions were 13.5 and 12.2L/100km, respectively.

As I’m planning to revisit the Simpson and do the Canning (neither, with the trailer) and extensive bitumen with the trailer, I think/know I need a diesel! But the problem is I can’t find data, especially from users, on what consumptions I might get when towing/fully loaded.

Can you help please?

Will be buying second-hand so if Outlander, with S-AWC, would be the better overall proposition I can change. Major problem with Outlander might be it’s lower initial clearance & maybe difficult/impossible to lift!?

 
Hi,
 
Thanks for the feedback, we do our best.
 
The fuel consumption with the Subie isn’t too bad considering the load of the car and the trailer. However, diesel will be better, you’ll use about 20% less fuel than petrol on day to day runs (depending on the length of your journey and the style of driving, e.g. stop/start), and typically diesel consumption doesn’t increase as much as petrol when loads start to rise. Even better, diesel is much safer to store than petrol as it is far, far less flammable. That figure will however vary quite a bit from situation to situation. Compared across otherwise identical vehicles, a modern petrol vs an old diesel may be quite close, and sometimes one engine has a more efficient transmission than the other. But all else being equal, expect at least a 20% improvement.
 
One tip for reducing consumption, be it petrol or diesel, is to reduce speed. Run the instant fuel consumption meter and average it for a while at say 110km/h. Then drop it to 100km/h and see the difference… it’s much more than 10%, thanks to the laws of aerodynamics.
 
Overall, the Outlander is a surprisingly effective AWD. We don’t know of any lift kits, but ask suspension shops about custom springs. Given it is an independently sprung vehicle that doesn’t have a lot of clearance it would be wise to limit any lifts to maybe 15mm in the front and 20 in the back, but that’s just a guess, take advice from a suspension specialist (not just a fit and forget merchant pretending to be a specialist) who can look at the car and understands things like bumpstop clearance, downtravel, rebound and compression.
 
If any readers would like to contribute answers about fuel consumption with Outlanders or similar small diesel SUVs we would much appreciate your views.
 

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7 Comments

  1. Andrew Riles
    February 29, 2016 at 12:04 pm — Reply

    Robert, I’ve read about subframe spacers for Subarus in order to lift them, I guess this is effectively the same as a body lift on a vehicle with a separate chassis….what are your thoughts on going this way to get a bit of lift from a newer IFS/IRS vehicle? For best results I’m guessing you’d need to change the springs and shocks as well, but it should keep the CV angles the same and the suspension in the middle third of it available travel shouldn’t it??

    • February 29, 2016 at 5:56 pm — Reply

      Andrew – a body lift is only really done to clear larger tyres, and sometimes a bit of approach/departure angle too. As it doesn’t lift the chassis it is of limited use for clearance. And body lift can only be done on seperate-chassis vehicles. Basically, I wouldn’t even attempt it with an Outlander, it’s a sign you’re starting from the wrong place. But yes CV angles and suspension would be unaffected.

      Generally, if a lift is going to be done suspension is the way to go, but the degree to which any independently-sprung vehicle can be lifted is limited by several factors, not least the downtravel left in suspension, and the angle of the CVs. The greater an angle the CVs operate at, the weaker they are.

      With cars like the Outlander a very small lift is about all you can do, anything more than that and I’d suggest the money is better spent on a heavier-duty vehicle to begin with.

      That said, there are some amazingly modified Subarus out there…but there’s a lot of expertise in Subies to draw on, many ready-made parts, and even then if you put that effort into say a Pajero or Prado you’d have an even more capable vehicle.

      • Andrew Riles
        March 15, 2016 at 6:10 pm — Reply

        Thx Robert, what I was getting at with the Outlander is using the same methods used for lifting Subarus….

        I agree that starting with a Pajero or similar is going to give you a more capable vehicle offroad, not too mention giving you a better range of accessories like barwork, but a lifted Outlander or Subaru would be different and arguably have better road manners than a Pajero…

        • March 15, 2016 at 10:26 pm — Reply

          Ah I see. Yes, agreed..but with too much weight you lose the agility. The Outlander is nothing special onroad anyway. Now if we’re talking Grand Vitara or Forester that is a different matter! I’m very fond of a lifted GV.

          • Andrew Riles
            March 16, 2016 at 4:50 pm

            I too have a soft spot for lifted GVs….I had a 2000 model 4 door as my first fourby a few years back…..definitely an under rated 4WD….would love to get another one at some point…

  2. Territory46
    March 4, 2016 at 5:41 pm — Reply

    Can’t comment on the situation of towing with an Outlander, but can give a couple of real-world examples towing a 2.5 tonne caravan: 1) 2002 2.5l Td5 Discovery 16-18l/100 towing, 10-11l/100 not towing. 2) 2013 3l Jeep Grand Cherokee 14-16l/100 towing, 8-9l/100 not towing.

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Robert Pepper

Robert Pepper