Monday 28 May 2018

Not outlandish -- smart redesigns for a family-friendly SUV

The 'old' Outlander came too late, offering too little, in retrospect. The recession had begun to bite and anything that smacked of an SUV or its ilk was being increasingly avoided.

Thankfully, they've gone second edition on this. They've done a bit of a number on the front of it and it looks a lot better and, more critically, they've got better diesel engines under the bonnet. The one that propelled my test vehicle is the more powerful, yet cleaner, of the two (177bhp against 156bhp).

Perhaps even more importantly there is now a choice between four-wheel-drive and two-wheel-drive. The latter is paired with the more powerful engine.

But here's the thing -- my memory of the original was of a smaller cabin altogether. This felt significantly larger and rear seat passengers had plenty of room. I won't lie; we didn't need the rear two small seats at the back which were folded flat into the floor.

I liked this on the road, though perhaps the suspension was a little too soft for my liking on the bumpier back routes -- the one through Clara Bog is perhaps one of the most unforgiving in the country.

Here was a simple, straightforward, smart dash and set of instruments. Everything was where I wanted it. There was no mystery and I just got on with the driving.

The middle row of seats tumble forward flat at the lift of a lever. They are by far the easiest I've come across. Getting them back upright was by no means as straightforward. Like stubborn drunks, they invoked both strength and perseverance to get them vertical.

Despite that, I could see how a family would like this. The boot 'lip' folds out flat for loading heavy stuff; a couple more old chairs were transferred to the ancestral home in the midlands thanks to the ease of access and room this afforded.

And I found it among the easiest to park with lots of clean vision. Many of the others could take a look at this.

Whether or not the latest Outlander has done enough to convince more to opt for a crossover costing more than €35,000 remains to be seen.

I'd say this version will register much better than the old one. It had a high level of equipment -- so important these days -- and was really comfortable over a fair bit of driving.

It is still a lot of money but this makes a much better impression and is well worth a place on your shopping list.

What: Mitsubishi Outlander 2,2L DID, 7-seater crossover (2,268cc, 177bhp, 0-100kmh in 9.7secs), 6spd gearbox, front-wheel drive, 6.1l/100km, CO2 of 162g/km; VRT is 24pc. €447 annual road tax.

Cost: €35,950. Delivery, related charges extra.

Target Market: Families.

Plus: Better looks, engine, and room thanks to seven seats, high level of equipment and ease of parking.

Minus: Price, suspension a bit soft.

Standard Equipment: Climate control, cruise control, electric windows, six-speaker audio system, electric/ heated/folding wing mirrors, 16in alloys, privacy glass, rear-seat armrest with cupholder.

Others to consider: Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, Hyundai ix35/Santa Fe, Kia Sorento, Nissan QASHQAI +2, Volkswagen Tiguan.

Star Rating: 83 / 100

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