Car Review: Mitsubishi Outlander is serious value for the road

New Mitsubishi Outlander is short on charisma but its price and features might just win you over

In the heady days of the 1990s and early 2000s, Japanese carmaker Mitsubishi was selling Lancer saloons by the proverbial truckload. It has since fallen on hard times. On the Singapore front, Mitsubishi's onceteeming showroom in Alexandra Road shut its doors.

Its local line-up has also suffered. Where the carmaker once marketed a popular variety of cars ranging from superminis to full-size sport-utility vehicles (SUVs) and even turbo sports saloons such as the Lancer Evolution, its range has dwindled to just two models in Singapore.

However, Mitsubishi looks like it is turning things around.

Earlier this month, it rebooted its local passenger-car operations, reopened its main showroom and is now selling four models here - the Attrage 1.2-litre budget notchback, the Lancer EX 1.6-

litre saloon, the facelifted ASX 2-litre crossover and the brand's local flagship, the 2.4-litre Outlander SUV.

The Outlander is a step in the right direction. Whether or not you are sold on the way it looks, it is difficult to argue with how it represents seriously good value for money.

For $145,999, you get a generously proportioned SUV that seats seven (although the two seats in the third row are best used for children, smaller-sized adults or hobbits), has fairly peppy performance and is generous with quality equipment.

The car comes standard with goodies such as 18-inch two-tone alloys, a sunroof, automatic headlights/wipers, keyless entry/start and a touchscreen infotainment system with integrated satellite navigation (offered as standard for a limited period, after which the system will be a $1,500 option).

There is also an electrically operated tailgate. A notable omission, though, is electric folding side mirrors.

The Outlander is a pleasant place to be in. It has exemplary cruising refinement, with almost limo levels of cabin isolation, though the buzzy engine note detracts from that somewhat.

The car's pillow-like ride quality, too, is beyond reproach.

The 2.4-litre engine with 167bhp is zippy enough (despite what its relaxed 11.2-second century sprint time might suggest) and its CVT does not exhibit too much of the "rubber band" effect that plagues most of these continuously variable transmissions.

But a high level of dynamic ability is not the Outlander's forte. The soft ride contributes to a significant amount of pitch and roll, which is not helped by the slow, vague steering.

Frankly, you buy an Outlander for reasons other than driving pleasure.

The biggest reason is that it is a lot of car for not a lot of money (its main rival, the Honda CR-V, is nearly $15,000 more expensive).

And if you are not of the "keen driver" persuasion, the latest Outlander does almost everything you need an everyday SUV to do.

The writer is the associate editor of Torque, a motoring monthly published by SPH Magazines.