Car Reviews

2015 Mitsubishi Outlander XLS diesel review

Robert Pepper’s 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander XLS diesel review with pricing, specs, ride and handling, safety, verdict and rating.

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Editor's Rating

How we rated the 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander XLS diesel 95%
Practical Motoring Says: If you want a beautifully designed status symbol that drives like a dream then look elsewhere. If you want a practical, robust and useful 7-seater midsize wagon that is ready to tour anywhere in Australia then this is your vehicle. The Outlander is the strong, silent type that doesn't make a fuss but gets the job done.
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On the outside

The Outlander manages to look like exactly what it is – a softroader, or SUV if you must.  Happily, it does not have garish try-hard flares or other fauxroader junk, it’s just quietly functional in its own way.   You couldn’t call it chic or cool, but it’s not a bad look at all and has the modern style of squinting headlights and a body crease.  There are plastic sill guards but these are functional as they protect the more expensive metal panels from casual damage.

Here’s the photos so you can decide for yourself.  I’m sorry the car is filthy in most of them but I can’t control Melbourne’s weather.  Your dealer has clean ones, go take a look.

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Room & Practicality

In the front we have a glovebox, door sidepockets and a centre console.  There’s one 12v under the dash and another, with a USB port, inside the centre console.   There’s a little slot for mobile phones and the like under the dash. Two drinks holders are  ahead of the gearshift, where they should be on all cars as they won’t get in the way there.  The centre console is usuably spacious.  I’d rate the front storage as average, there’s no extra little compartments to lift the car beyond the norm.

Moving into the second row and there’s a 40/60 split, and sadly the 40% is not on the kerb side for Australia.  But that’s really about it on the negatives.  Both parts of the second row can be moved forwards and backwards, which is a brilliant feature found in some, but unfortunately not all such vehicles.   The reason it’s a good feature is because you can trade space between second and third rows.  Let’s say you want more cargo space…move the second row forwards.  Or more legroom in the second row, which is pretty decent anyway…then move it back.   It is also possible to adjust the angle of the second row seatbacks which is good, allows space to be effectively utilised and comfort to be maximised. It’s also important for babyseat fitting.   There’s also a fold-down table/armrest in the centre of the second row.
 

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Second row slides forwards and angles forward to allow access to the third row. The 50/50 split means the car works as a 6-seater with space for cargo to the side of the upright third-row seat, and quite a bit behind the third row itself.
The second row folds down pretty much flat by lifting the base forwards and laying the seatback down.  Older cars just had a basic tumbleforwards function, but this is superior because it affords more loadspace.  The only negative is that this mode is not easy to work out, and I feel that all car seating modes should be easy for people not familiar with the vehicle to figure out.  The rear cargo depth is about 980mm, increasing to 1230mm if the second row is moved all the way forwards, and 1800mm if the second row is flat.  That is a a sizeable amount of loadspace for the size of vehicle.
 
Partial fold-flat
Good flexibility of seating. The folded-foward second row seatbase can be easily removed by undoing two bolts hidden under plastic covers.
One other negative is the second row middle seatbelt that is tethered to the roof.  Not only is this a pain to connect and disconnect, it also gets in the way of the rear loadspace.  There’s also no 12v socket or USB in the second row, and this will not be popular with children of today.  Even worse, there’s not one in the cargo bay either.  It’s also a bit cheap to only have the one seatpocket on the back of the front row.
 
Moving into the third row and there’s not much space for either head or feet if you’re an adult, which is ok because the Outlander is smaller than the likes of the Pajero (shorter by over 200mm) and its larger competitors.  Kids would be fine in the back.  The ability to move the second row forwards and backwards helps a great deal, and also means access to the third row is easier than those vehicles which only tilt the second row forwards.  The third row is a 50/50 split.

 
The cargo area has four reasonably solid tiedowns, and a nice little bay for storing, well, stuff.  While the third row does fold flat it doesn’t lock down into place.

Third row up. Good space behind third row.
Lots of space behind the third row – around 320mm deep – a little feature often overlooked. The straps are all you need to raise the seats. Headrests are adjustable. Seatbelts can be tucked out of the way.
 
All the seats are easy to operate – obvious controls and little effort, so you could do it one handed – with the exception of folding the second row flat.  That’s fine because you won’t often need to do that.

Despite not looking boxy on the outside, the Outlander is spacious inside and makes fairly intelligent use of that space.  It is very much a practical, no-nonsense utilitarian sort of interior.

There are more interior photos in the gallery at the end of this review.

On the inside

The Outlander’s interior and switchgear will be familiar to anyone who has spent time in Japanese cars, as will be the rather dreary shades of grey and beige.  Mitsubishi have kept things easy and simple with dials, stalks and buttons, not fancy touchscreens.  This means everything is easy to use.  In this XLS model there’s not a lot of things to operate anyway. 

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Does the job but no work of art.  The rubber mats are not standard, we put them in all test 4WDs.

The driving position is upright (height-adjustable seat) and easy to access, and the steering wheel is tilt/reach adjustable.  The steering wheel controls don’t get in the way when you turn the wheel.

The infotainment unit does navigation, Bluetooth audio streaming, DAB radio, phone and can show a variety of information (see gallery at the end for details).   It can also keep track of maintenance items like tyres and oil filters.  As usual these days there is an eco system that scores your driving, fuel consumption history and bizarrely, a laptimer.  In an Outlander?   I never knew Mitsubishi had a sense of humour.

Another feature I doubt anyone will use is a calendar, but of more relevance is the altimeter, barometer and temperature history.  That is actually useful given this is very much the sort of vehicle that could be used to ascend mountains – but more on that later.  There’s voice recognition too and it works effectively.   Overall, the infotainment unit is easy to use, but too slow to respond and the interface isn’t the most modern.  In particular the satnav which has a rather dated look and feel.  It does however show current speed limits for the road you’re on, even if they aren’t always quite up to date. 

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Does anyone actually use these things?  The driving time might be useful though. And yes, that is a lap timer!  Huge prominence given to the Eco Mode button below too.
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This is good. If you go for a snow drive you can note at that point the snow starts to appear, and the barometer can indicate weather changes.
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Can you spot when we changed driver?

The vehicle settings – automatic locking, alarm, lights and the like – are set via the infotainment unit which is a much better way than the usual method of fiddling around with small dash displays and toggles.

The display on the dash between the revcounter and speedo is much more up to date and modern looking.  Happily, it helps with navigation by signaling the next turn, as well as the usual fuel economy and trip meter information.

Mitsubishi are bringing CarPlay and Android Auto the Pajero, let’s hope that follows through to the Outlander.

Performance, ride and handling

Around town and on the blacktop
The Outlander is a stereotypical SUV.  High riding, soft ride, doughy but entirely safe handling.   The 4WD system is on-demand, so it drives the rear wheels only when necessary for reasons of fuel economy.  This means it feels like a front-driver, but not as much as some of its peers.  Regardless, and as soon as you try and move on a bit all your efforts evaporate into terminal push-wide understeer which is safe, yet irritating.  Grip levels are a quite good, but the steering is a little slow. This would be a great car for learners because you feel absolutely no desire to drive fast and if there were more Outlanders sold there’d be less speeding fines issued.

The 110kW diesel engine is smooth and quiet, a good mate to the six-speed gearbox which intelligently uses the engine’s 360Nm of torque.  Unfortunately, despite their combined best efforts that’s not really enough to shift the car along nicely and even under moderate acceleration the revs climb necessarily but not frantically high before the gearbox changes.  Solo without a load around town it’s not too bad, add a family on rural roads and you do wish for a bit more grunt.  I wouldn’t want to hook a caravan to the back.

Parking and low speed work are good as usual with this sort of vehicle as is the visibility.  The combination of reversing sensors as well as a camera is a good move as the two features are complementary, many cars have just the one.

 
There are paddleshifts to change gear, and Mitsubishi are one of the few manufacturers (Ferrari is another) who have fixed-position shifters instead of rotational.  This is a good choice because with any offroad vehicle you may need to change gear with a full lock of steering on and it gets confusing if the shifters rotate with the wheel.

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A rarity. Paddleshifts in the right place.
 
Overall, I’d put the Outlander below average for onroad dynamics but only from a driving enthusiast’s perspective, it’s very safe.  It’d average if you don’t mind trundling along slowly and comfortably.
 
Driving technology
Mitsubishi have all the usual electronic aids but have really confusing terms and descriptions for them and the low-budget translations in the owner’s manual don’t help much.  So, here’s a quick rundown:

  • S-AWC – Super All Wheel Control – simply a combination of stability control and traction control.
  • Active Yaw Control – part of stability control, in Mitsu speak that’s ASC or Active Stability Control.
  • Electronically Controlled 4WD – on demand 4WD that drives the front wheels, and the rears as and when the computers decide it’s a good idea.
  • Left-Right Differential Limiting Function – traction control.  I’ve seen a lot of names for traction control and this has to be the most weird yet.  I can only presume it’s another poor translation.  Does that sound like something you want on your car?  It actually is, believe it or not.

Here’s the 4WD modes:

  • 4WD Eco – pure 2WD (front drive).  Only drives the rears when it really needs to.
  • 4WD Auto – preferences 2WD,  readily drives the rear wheels when there’s front slip
  • 4WD Lock – drives the rear wheels as well as the front, so an all-wheel-drive mode.  Despite the name this is not a true locking mode as in locking centre differential but it comes pretty close.  More on that shortly.

The transmission can also be locked into a low gear with an L mode.  
 
There’s an Eco button which as usual with these things is a kind of placebo effect to make you feel better.  Mitsubishi have seen fit to colour it green and stick it prominently in the centre of the dash next to the hazard lights, so hit the wrong button and you could end up saving fuel while being hit from behind.  This Eco mode doesn’t do much other than fiddle with the aircon and a few other settings, and is in addition to the 4WD Eco mode, so for super-greeness enable both.  If you actually make any measureable difference to fuel econsumption (as distinct from your consience) please let me know.

 
You can switch the stability control (ASC) off via a long-press of the dash switch, but you shouldn’t ever because it also disables traction control.  And that’s not good, because traction control keeps you moving in the rough.  I do not know why manufacturers design cars this way.   Based on some mud driving experience with the Outlander I’ve found ASC not to interfere with the car’s offroad performance, but did not have a chance to drive in sand where stability control activation can get you bogged. 
 
If you own an Outlander of this model year or similar and have driven it in soft sand please comment below.  My guess is the car would do quite well.  I recall somewhere that ASC does not operate below 15km/h which is a good design.
 
Dirt roads

Remember that soft suspension on road?  Well, it’s all good on rougher brown roads because it affords a very pliant and comfortable ride.  Grip is good as the on-demand 4WD system actually works, so you don’t have too much wheelspin or axle hop under power on corrguations.  Not that the Outlander has a lot of power anyway.
 
On smoother roads the handling isn’t the sharpest, but you can never complain about the ride.   The Outlander is also reasonably well protected and tucked up underneath by softroader standards.  Overall, the Outlander is a very good dirt-road cruiser, but it’s not a rally weapon, far too soft, slow and unresponsive for that.  Interestingly, the Pajero is much better, it’s one of my favourite dirt-road low-range cars.
 
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Offroad

Melbourne served up a decent dose of rain so first up was some shallow, slippery mud driving.  This was a perfect test as the Outlander isn’t designed for tough offroading, but it should be able to get you along slippery, muddy roads.  So I gave it a shot.

With the tyres completley clogged with mud to the point the tread was invisible, the Outlander nevertheless made progress up moderate hills, and even if we had to go up a little sideways on occasion. 

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This is very slippery, but the Outlander did well. On-demand systems usually revert to driving the front wheels and then you are lost.

This was down to the 4WD system, the traction control and the engine.  In order:

I have to say I was much impressed with the on-demand 4WD system and consider is the best of that type I’ve ever used – and I think I’ve used them all by now.  Most of the time these on-demand systems engage the rear wheels too late, and when they do, by too little so the car wheelspins to a halt, or you spin the front wheels only getting further into trouble.  Not so with this one, which is early to kick in, and effective – and that’s in Auto, change it to Lock and it’s even better, getting towards having an actual lockable centre diff.  Top marks to Mitsubishi, everyone take note and follow suit please.  Either that, or stop claiming things that aren’t true in your specifications.

The traction control is highly effective, which is surprising as recently I had a Challenger owner so concerned his wasn’t working he didn’t think it was fitted.  Turned out it was, it was just slow.  Not so on the Outlander which has a much better calibration similar to the Pajero which is also pretty good.

Finally, the engine.  While the motor lacks power on road, it never seems to runs out of puff in the rough unless pushed to extremes, and it always seems to have a bit grunt more available – surprising, but welcome and it makes the car easy to control on slippery surfaces. The soft suspension also really helps here, keeping all four wheels in contact with the ground. 

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Outlander eats this up. Good suspension, tough body and 4WD system.
We also ran the Outlander over some rough terrain, ditches, hills and the like. It did very well indeed, and I would say it is one of the best no-low-range vehicles on the market for the reasons listed above – an effective 4WD system, tractable engine, supple suspension with long travel and a robust design.  The relatively light weight 1630kg kerb weight helps too, as indeed it seems to be for fuel efficiency.   As a contrast, last week I tested the Lexus RC F which is a sports coupe and that weighs 1860kg.
 
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The Outlander has the best on-demand 4WD system I have ever seen, and allied with above-average traction control means you can drive ditches like this with ease. Technique note – crossing ditches at angles is the correct way to traverse them.  Go straight on and you’ll damage the car’s nose.
Hills are a problem.  There’s no low range and no hill descent control.  That said, the four-wheel disc brakes work pretty well, and the 4WD lock system also helps on steep descents.  I’m sure Mitsubishi would say buy a Pajero if you want to do this sort of thing and I agree, but it’s nice to know the Outlander is pretty capable.
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The Outlander’s engine braking is pretty mich non-existent. Mitsubishi have never really had a good electronic hill descent system and I may suggest now would be the time to introduce it as hill descents are the Outlander’s only weak point due to the lack of low range.
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A Discovery 4 safety car in the background which got about as far up the hill as the Outlander. While the Discovery has by far the better 4WD system, it also has about 900kg extra mass to lug up the hill. Light weight…it’s a good thing.
Notably, the Outlander never complained.  It never threw a warning light, nothing gave up, nothing overheated, everything just worked and very much gave the impression it would continue working forever.   You know carshows always have SUVs set in a bed of gravel with mountainbikes on the roof and lyrcra-clad Active Lifestyle People parading around?  Let me tell you there is an inverse relationship between car capability and hype.  The Outlander wouldn’t be on display lit up in neon, it’d be quietly waiting in a garage for when the show is over and the real work needs doing.
 
There’s more offroad shots in the gallery at the end.  I didn’t bother shoot any onroad because frankly that’s far less interesting.

Quality

A 5-year, 100,000km warranty is not bad but not market leading.  Interestingly, the new Triton is 5 year/130,000km. 
 
One or two parts look cheap, but there’s nothing flimsy or poorly made, and we had no cause for concern during the test.
 
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Pricing & Equipment

Our test car is the XLS diesel.  There are no glaring omissions from the XLS specification that families or other buyers might particuarly want.  Inclded is satnav, Bluetooth audio, DAB, cruise control, the usual power accessories. 

Above the XLS there is the Exceed diesel which gets keyless entry, leather, power and heated seats, electric tailgate and adaptive cruise control.  It’s another $5k, and as always with moving up a trim level you do need to ask yourself if it’s worth it.   I think in this case you could argue it is, and resale should be quite high too.  Mitsubishi have been using the Exceed name for years now across many models so it has some market recognition.  The petrol Exceed also has forward collision mitigation (AEB) and is cheaper than the diesel, so might be a better option if you plan on city or short-range use.

The range starts with the 2.0L petrol 2WD models which are CVT automatics, then there’s the 2.2L diesels (normal autos) and and the 2.4L petrol (CVT again), with the hybrid PHEV to top off the range.  Some Outlanders, mostly the LS models, are 5 not 7 seats.

modelsThe difference between diesel and petrol is only around $1500.   Given small difference, and the fact the fuel tank is 60L, if you intend to tour in your Outlander I’d be very tempted to opt for the diesel which has better fuel economy and therefore range.  At least the petrol will run on 91RON petrol, a good move for a SUV.    Fuel consumption on the combined cycle is 7.2 for the petrol and 6.2 for the diesel, although the petrol’s consumption will rise more with a load.  We were able to remain well under 10 with our test diesel except for the offroad work.

Safety

The Outlander has the now-obligatory 5-star rating.  ANCAP really needs to do something because everything is scoring 5 and it’s no longer a differentiator.  How about rating second and third row safety…not a lot of people know the rating applies only to the front row.  But I digress.  
 
One reason why the Outlander should shoot to the top of your list if you intend to wander Australia is the spare wheel.  Not only does it have a full-sized alloy spare, it’s underslung so should you need to get to it you don’t have to unload the back of the car.   It’s a sad state of affairs when we have to praise a manufacturer for supplying what should be the basics, but that’s where we are now.   Even better, the jack is hidden away in a side panel, so it’s relatively easy to get to, and it is a pretty robust jack too.  The winch point to let the spare down is on the door jamb, so again no need to unload the car to change the tyre.   It is truly amazing how many manufacturers do not think of these points.  I have said before I’d like to get the engineers that forget these things to change a wheel out in the bush while raining at night in the mud – in the case of the Outlander I shall buy the engineer a beer instead.
 
Now the Outlander is already looking very good on the real-4WD front, but there’s more.  The vehicle actually has a rear towpoint and two front towhooks which are not those horrific screw-in jobbies.  Now I wouldn’t go recovering the car from a bog using the rear one – fit a towbar and then connect like so – but the two front ones are great and very unusual for this class of car, use a long bridle and you should will be much better for a recovery than a single screw-in point. 
 
All this means that the Outlander really does deserve its adventurous sounding name, and it absolutely ticks all the boxes as a car you’d want to take a long way into remote Australia – diesel, frugal, good 4WD system, towhooks, full-sized spare, capacious.  My kind of car, and I think anyone considering a Subaru should also consider an Outlander.  There are differences between the two, and I’ll cover them in a blog post later.

 
There are three child-restraint points where they should be, which is on the back of the second row, and ISOFIX ISOFIX restraint points.   The third row doesn’t have any restraints.
 

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Why is this photo here? Because you can see the full-sized alloy spare and a semi-decent towpoint to the left of the car. There are four reversing sensors and the reversing camera is to the left of the numberplate.
 

2015 Outlander XLS Diesel Automatic

PRICE :  $39,490  (+ORC) Metallic/pearlescent paint + $550

WARRANTY : 5 years / 100,000 km

SAFETY : 5 star (35.58 / 37, tested in 2015) 

ENGINE : 2.2 diesel 

POWER : 110 kW at 3500 rpm 

TORQUE : 360 Nm at 1500-2750 rpm 

TRANSMISSION : 6-speed automatic with paddleshifts 

DRIVE :  On-demand 4WD 

GROUND CLEARANCE : 190 mm 

BODY :   4695 mm (L);  1810 mm (W),  1680 mm (H) 

TURNING CIRCLE :  10.6 m 

WEIGHT :  1630 kg 

SEATS: 7 

TOWING : 2000 kg unbraked, 750g braked, max TBM 200 kg 

FUEL TANK : 60 litres 

SPARE : Full-sized alloy underslung

THIRST : 6.2 L/100km ADR81/02 combined cycle 

FUEL : diesel

Thanks to Jessica and Stephen for their assistance with this review.  
 

Outlander interior gallery

 

Outlander offroad gallery

 

Outlander instrument gallery


Robert Pepper

Robert Pepper

Robert Pepper is a motoring journalist, offroad driver trainer and photographer interested in anything with wings, sails or wheels. He is the author of four books on offroading, and owns a modified Ford Ranger PX which he uses for offroad touring. His other car is a Toyota 86 which exists purely to drive in circles on racetracks, and that's when he isn't racing his Nissan Pulsar. Visit his website: www.l2sfbc.com or follow him on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/RobertPepperJourno/ or buy his new ebook!