First Drive: Mitsubishi Outlander

Date: Wednesday, September 25, 2013   |  

Although the 4x4 van segment isn’t massive in terms of sales or the number of different models on offer, Mitsubishi has always offered a decent selection of UK-converted vehicles. Having launched the new Outlander off-roader earlier this year, the firm has now made the light commercial vehicle version available. It joins the larger Shogun and smaller ASX models in a three-pronged commercial line-up of capable off-roaders converted from passenger vehicles by carpeting the area where the rear seats would normally be.

The Outlander 4Work follows the traits of most car-derived 4x4 vans by offering an interior that’s significantly more plush than the regular commercial vehicle offerings, as the front area of the cabin is carried over from the car version. That means a properly fitted integrated stereo, rather than some of the cheaper and nastier aftermarket jobs seen on some rivals. It also means comfortable seats, automatic lights and wipers, air-conditioning and safety elements including seven airbags

and a maximum five-star Euro NCAP crash test rating.

Coming in 100kg lighter than the previous-generation Outlander 4Work, the new version is much more efficient, with an impressive official combined fuel consumption figure of 53.3mpg and CO2 emissions of 153g/km.

It’s a shame from an LCV perspective the last-generation car’s split rear tailgate has been dropped. It featured a small drop-down element that provided a shelf for loading and unloading, rather than the new model’s straightforward top-hinged one-piece tailgate.

In some ways, the transformation from car to van is a little crude. The Outlander’s rear door windows and the ones behind it are both boarded off in a way that makes
it obvious the conversion is post-production rather than integrated. They are at least body-coloured, and may work better in choices other than the white of our test vehicle. There’s also plenty of rattling from the steel mesh bulkhead, and the carpeted load area won’t stand up to

persistent heavy-duty mistreatment without becoming tatty.

Where the Outlander excels versus pick-ups or traditional LCVs is in its drive. As already mentioned, from the driver’s seat it’s tough to even spot that you’re driving a working van rather than passenger car, and that translates into a vehicle that handles well, is comfortable for long distances and offers ample performance from the 147hp 2.2-litre diesel engine. The LCV comes with a three-stage four- wheel drive system, automatically running in what Mitsubishi calls 4WD Eco mode, where power goes to the front wheels unless it detects a reduction in grip, at which point power is channelled to the wheels with the most traction. There is also a permanent 4WD Auto setting to keep the car in all-wheel drive, and a 4WD Lock for extra traction. The off-road ability Mitsubishi is well-known for will be important to a small but demanding customer base that tends to include utility companies and local authorities that rely on these vehicles to reach relatively inaccessible work sites.

The Outlander is a generally good-looking and classy addition to the 4x4 van class, and competitively priced against well-specced pick-ups that do a similar job.

 

Verdict

Capable on- and off-road, and a good addition to a sector of admittedly limited volume appeal.

 

 



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