2021 Mitsubishi Outlander

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ATTRACTIVE design, a lift in standard specification and more modern technology are expected to elevate Mitsubishi Motors Australia Limited’s (MMAL) fourth-generation Outlander to a safe position within the top-three medium mainstream SUVs, inching it closer to the dominant Toyota RAV4 and Mazda CX-5. 

“The long-term ambition for the vehicle is to be a podium achiever within the medium SUV segment, so it is a volume car,” MMAL general manager of marketing and product strategy Oliver Mann told GoAuto.

“We think the new Outlander brings premium-level design, finish and quality into the mainstream, and makes it a very attainable and attractive alternative to the market leaders,” Mr Mann continued.

“You will see in the launch activity for the vehicle that a very premium tone is taken, and one that perhaps drives less on value and drives much more around buyer’s aspirations as to how they want to put that vehicle to use, and how the new Outlander delivers to that in the best way possible.”

With MMAL pitching the reinvented Outlander as a more aspirational product, the company is on the hunt to conquest a different kind of buyer – one more lucrative than the bargain-hunters that favoured the previous-gen model.

Although the buyer profile should not shift dramatically away from the predominantly older demographic of families and empty-nesters, the addition of a new flagship – the Exceed Tourer, which now sits above the previous top-spec Exceed – and the reintroduction of high-spec Aspire grade suggests MMAL wants to funnel retail customers towards to the top end of the Outlander’s price window.

But these premium aspirations will not come at the cost of the fleet buyers that have long gravitated toward the Outlander’s considerable ‘metal for the money’ quotient.

The ES grade remains as entry point to the Outlander range, and at $34,490 before on-road costs in two-wheel drive, five-seater form (all other Outlander grades are seven-seaters as standard), MMAL fully acknowledges that the base Outlander is aimed squarely at fleet operators, not mums and dads. 

“We’d like to absolutely retain the fleet business that we have, and we think the new Outlander offers an extremely competitive and compelling proposition to any kind of business buyer,” said Mr Mann. 

“But what we’re really hoping to do is to grow market share through attracting a greater proportion of retail and small business customers.”

So far this year, the Outlander sits in third place of the sub-$60,000 medium SUV segment with 10,945 units sold to the end of September.

There is a large gap between it and the second-place CX-5 (21,333 units), while the Toyota RAV 4 appears unassailable with 29,263 year-to-date sales.

However, if Mitsubishi’s pricing pencil is sharp enough and the product well-received, it appears the only thing that might get in the way of closing the gap to Mazda and Toyota is just how much slack is in the supply chain.

“Obviously in the short term that’s going to be very much driven by supply constraints that are impacting the entire industry, so I think we’ve got some tough months ahead of us like everyone else,” Mr Mann told GoAuto. 

“We’ve got healthy launch stocks, but I think beyond three to six months there’s something of a question mark about our ability to match supply with demand.”

But there are far fewer question marks over whether the culling of a diesel Outlander option will be detrimental to sales. 

“I think what you’ll see is that the market is dead in relation to diesel, said MMAL senior manager of product strategy Owen Thomson.

“Petrol and some form of hybridisation is where the market is generally going in most sectors.” 

However, MMAL executives would not be drawn on what the incoming Outlander Plug-in Hybrid would contribute to the Outlander’s sales sheet.

In its previous generation, the Outlander PHEV blazed a trail as one of Australia’s first plug-in hybrids, however it only accounted for two per cent of total volume.

Yet, with the appetite for hybrids currently exploding (just ask Toyota), the plug-in Outlander could become a far more popular choice than its predecessor when it arrives in April 2022.

Until then, the Outlander range – which officially goes on sale on November 1 this year – will be powered by just one engine choice: the 135kW/245Nm PR25DE 2.5-litre naturally-aspirated four-cylinder petrol, sourced through Mitsubishi’s alliance with Nissan.

The Outlander’s platform is also Nissan/Renault derived, being the CMF-D architecture that will sit under the next-generation Nissan X-Trail. 

Nissan’s new X-Trail could be a thorn in the Outlander’s side next year; a curious situation given both the X-Trail and Outlander share their platform and significant amounts of their technology in their new generations.

Working in Mitsubishi’s favour is timing – with the new X-Trail not expected to be on the ground until the latter half of 2022, the Outlander should enjoy nearly a full year’s lead to put a gap between itself and the Nissan, which currently hovers uncomfortably close to the Outlander’s sales figures.

Other potential threats to the Outlander include the Hyundai Tucson and Subaru Forester, which are also currently just behind the Outlander in the 2022 sales race and both in with a realistic chance to knock the new Outlander off a podium position.

The 2022 Outlander line-up is sizable, with five distinct specification grades spread over nine individual variants, among which are various permutations of five or seven seat and front- or all-wheel drive configurations.

Kicking off the range at $34,490 is the ES (add $2500 for all-wheel drive or $1000 for seven seats), moving up to the LS at $37,990 (again, AWD is a $2500 option), the Aspire at $41,490, then the AWD-only Exceed and Exceed Tourer at $47,990 and $49,990 respectively.

Riding on 18-inch alloy wheels as standard, the ES trim level comes with fabric upholstery, a 9.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a 7.0-inch TFT driver’s display, dual-zone climate control, five or six drive modes (2WD vs AWD), reversing camera, hill descent control, adaptive cruise control and an electric park brake with auto hold function.

To this the LS adds silver bumper garnishes, rear privacy glass, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, keyless entry, wireless phone charging, powered tailgate, auto-diming rearview mirror, automatic headlamps, LED fog lamps, rain sensing wipers and heated wing mirrors.

 

On the Aspire are 20-inch alloys and Microsuede/synthetic leather upholstery, powered driver’s seat adjustment, heated front seats, a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, head-up display, adaptive self-levelling headlights with and a 360-degree camera.

 

The Exceed gains genuine leather upholstery, memory function for both front seats, a panoramic sunroof, a Bose premium sound system, tri-zone climate control, integrated rear sun shades and colour-coded exterior front, side and rear lower garnishes.

 

A two-tone exterior body colour, two-tone high-grade leather upholstery and massaging front seats are exclusive to the Exceed Tourer.

Every Outlander comes with driver attention alert, forward collision mitigation with cyclist detection and junction assist, blind spot warning with brake assist, emergency lane change alert with brake assist, trailer stability assist, lane departure warning and lane departure prevention.

 

From LS grade upward, reverse automatic emergency braking and rear cross-traffic alert are also added.

All variants have an automatic continuously variable transmission (CVT) with eight simulated ratios activated by paddle-shifters.

 

Fuel consumption varies from 7.5L/100km in the 2WD ES up to 8.1L/100km in the AWD Exceed and Exceed Touring on the ADR combined cycle.

2022 Mitsubishi Outlander pricing*

ES 5-seater (a)

$34,490

ES 5-seater AWD (a)

$36,990

ES 7-seater (a)

$35,490

LS 7-seater (a)

$37,990

LS 7-seater AWD (a)

$40,490

Aspire 7-seater (a)

$41,490

Aspire 7-searer AWD (a)

$43,990

Exceed 7-seater AWD (a)

$47,990

Exceed Tourer 7-seater AWD (a)

$49,990

*Excludes on-road costs.

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