"Mitsubishi's Outlander is practical, neatly styled and good to drive. It's expensive, though."
The Outlander is Mitsubishi's compact 4x4 contender. It rivals the likes of the Land Rover Freelander 2, yet features a third row of seats. They’re small, but handy for those occasions if you have a couple more children. The styling is tidy inside and out, and people carrier-like features such as sliding, easy-fold seats make it a practical choice. Front-wheel-drive models offer improved fuel economy at the expensive of off-road ability – although many Outlanders will never see terrain more challenging than a gravel car park.
A 2.2-litre diesel is the only engine available, and it's smooth and powerful. The steering in all versions is accurate and quick, with the Outlander responding to inputs at the wheel more like a conventional car than a high-riding off-roader. The six-speed manual transmission is light and easy to use, but the suspension sometimes struggles to smother sharp bumps and ripples in the road. A rotary dial allows you to choose 4x4 mode, enabling the Outlander to venture off-road if you need it to.
The 2.2-litre diesel – the only engine option offered in the Outlander – is quiet on the move. Adding to the strong refinement, the Outlander's cabin is impressively resistant to wind and road noise. What's more, it provides good comfort for four adults, although the middle seat in the rear is a little bit tight for a fifth. The third row of seats right at the back of the Mitsubishi are strictly for children, though, because they are flat and quite cramped.
The interior feels well built and sturdy, even if the plastics used look a bit hard and shiny for a car costing so much. Electronic stability control comes as standard on all models, although entry-level GX1 and GX2 models lack the curtain airbags that are standard on higher spec cars. All models come with Isofix child seat mountings too. The Outlander doesn’t feature in the Driver Power Survey, but Mitsubishi has a good reputation for reliability.
Split tailgate offers brilliant access to the huge boot, and a switch in the side panel folds the second row seats. They slide and recline, too, to boost legroom or luggage space. Use the third row seats and luggage space plummets from 541 litres to 220 litres. Cabin storage includes a twin-lidded glovebox and a small centre armrest cubby. Four large bottle holders in the doors are useful, as is the upper glovebox's cooling or warming function on top-spec models.
Value for money
The Outlander isn’t as cheap to buy as you might expect – Peugeot and Citroen sell near-identical alternatives for less. Range-topping Juro models are particularly expensive, although they have the spec to justify it. Mid-spec GX3 makes most sense in the range: it has alloys, Bluetooth and cruise control. This is also the only version to come with two-wheel drive.
The 2.2-litre diesel is mated to a standard six-speed manual box or an optional automated manual, like that found in the Evo X supersaloon. Road Tax costs £155 and £235 respectively, while fuel economy is 44.8mpg and 39.2mpg, depending on gearbox, for four-wheel-drive models. The manual-only two-wheel-drive car does 46.3mpg. As with all Mitsubishis you can buy fixed-price servicing to keep running costs predictable, while insurance should be competitive.