It’s hard to shake a reputation, and for the Outlander that reputation was one of, well, mediocrity. Whether it was climbing into the back of a ride-share, picking up a rental car or getting zapped by a mobile speed camera, the average person’s interactions with the previous-generation Outlander probably didn’t excite or impress.
The driving experience wasn’t terrible, mind you, but in Australia’s most competitive vehicle segment there was no shortage of better-driving options – being a middle-of-the-pack performer simply isn’t enough.
However, sharp pricing can counter a dull offering to a great extent, and in terms of sales volume the last Outlander was routinely a top-five finisher in VFACTS reports.
Mitsubishi Motors Australia (MMAL) has pledged the all-new Outlander will be a podium performer in this country but this time around the company wants to do things a little differently. At MMAL head office, the brass understands that in order to advance the brand, the Outlander needs to feel a lot less ordinary.
And so the nameplate has upward aspirations, buoyed by box-fresh styling and equally green mechanicals. When Mitsu says ‘all new’, they mean it this time – there’s no carryover here, with the new Outlander one of the first Mitsubishi products to benefit from the company’s corporate links to Nissan.
The platform is Renault-Nissan’s CMF-D architecture and its PR25DD engine is also a Nissan unit, both of which will feature in Nissan’s next-gen X-Trail that’s due here in the second half of 2022.
One must wonder how Nissan feels about its corporate cousin getting almost a year’s head start with its new hardware in the all-important mid-size SUV category. Regardless, divorcing the Outlander name from the underwhelming platform of the last generation can only be a good thing.
Another important change concerns the range structure. While a keenly-priced entry point remains in the form of the Outlander ES 2WD 5-seater at $34,490 before on-road costs (which MMAL admits is intended as fleet fodder), there’s now more choice at the top end of the spec tree. The Aspire grade has returned from hiatus and sits below the Exceed, while an Exceed Tourer flagship joins the family and caps the range off at $49,990 before on-roads.
The Aspire, available in either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive form and with seven seats as standard, is expected to be the volume-seller of the range, and with a fat equipment list coupled to a $41,490 starting price ($43,990 for AWD) it’s not hard to understand why.
But does the new generation have the right stuff to attract the private buyers that MMAL is targeting with its new Outlander, and help lift the average transaction price of one of its mainstay SUVs?
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