The word “outlandish” is defined as “looking or sounding bizarre or unfamiliar. Foreign or alien”. This is not how the Mitsubishi Outlander can be described. With 1.5 million of these vehicles sold worldwide it is, in fact, a very common and easily recognisable car. And what a good-looking car it is.
The Outlander available now is the third generation. When it was launched in 2001 the first generation was more of a large family estate vehicle offered in a choice of 4WD or 2WD. The second generation, launched in 2006, was slightly raised and the 4WD became standard. With full-time power to all four corners, along with the higher ride height, this car slotted nicely into the mid-size SUV market. The third generation Outlander has had a facelift inside and out, and the car combines rugged looks with urban chic.
This car isn’t the heavy-duty workhorse that carries the Land Rover badge – if I was going up a mountain often (or ever) I know which vehicle would be better suited to that job. But this is still (within reason) a go-anywhere vehicle.
My first proper drive of this new car came some months ago. While summer has now unarguably started in Ukraine, this was not the case over a weekend trip to Odesa. Pulling out of Kyiv in March, it began to snow. At first a little, then a lot. Upon arriving in Odesa it became apparent I had just taken on the biggest snow storm of the winter.
The Kyiv – Odesa highway is one of the country’s best roads: 450km of relatively decent road surface (excluding a section of about 20km just north of Uman, which looks like patch found in a third world country) can normally be disposed of in between four or five hours, depending on how much gas you want to guzzle through and/or whether you’re ready to risk a speeding fine. My Odesa trip took all of six and a half hours: speeding was not an option.
As I and a few other brave (read: stupid) souls pressed on through the snow, many vehicles struggled. The biggest (literally) thing to watch for in such conditions are semi-trailers towing goods. Such vehicles need a good lot of momentum to get up and over some steeper climbs, so you have no choice but to get the hell out of their way. With a semi looming in my rearview mirror I had no choice but to move out into the fast lane, which was deep in snow due to lack of use. As I fought to keep the car moving straight, the electronic stability control light on the dash blinked furiously on and off as the car’s electronic brain was trying to help me keep this shiny new vehicle on the road.
What kind of tires?
The Outlander and I passed many abandoned vehicles on that trip, including trucks which had simply stopped where the wheels had no further traction, parked in the middle of the highway. Many more drivers had simply pulled onto the hard shoulder, considering it wiser to wait this one out than to plough on. A few more vehicles had come to a stop and were in need of a tow truck after colliding with other road users or the central reservation barrier.
As I pulled into the hotel yard in Odessa and turned the engine off there were a few thoughts running through my head. The first and most pressing was how fast I could get a beer in my hand! But the main feeling was one of respect for this gutsy motor. We had made it through truly terrible conditions and arrived with suitcases and bodies intact. The Outlander is a comfortable environment and it had steadied my nerve as the challenges (sometimes literally) piled up in front of us.
A couple days later, while on a call back to Kyiv discussing my journey, I learned some information that would have concerned me more than a tad had I known this when I was on the road: the car was running on summer tyres.
At least the summer is here now, and the function I will be using most on this comfortable and roomy car is the air conditioning rather than the electronic stability control.
What’s On Rating
Stats for the Boys
The engine is grunty
It looks nice
Pros for the Girls
Safe and secure
Lots of space for family and luggage
It looks nice
The main feeling was one of respect for this gutsy motor