SUV, MPV, BBC, ITV, whatever it may be categorised as, the Mitsubishi Outlander did us proud getting across the country and back again.
Imagine the scene: A relaxing weekend at CenterParcs' Elveden Forest coming up; the nearest and dearest and 4 excited teenage girls with their associated caravan of paraphernalia the size of the entrance hall at House of Frazer and the sheer joy of it being the first day of the school holidays throughout the UK. It was enough to strike fear into the heart of the most gallant of warriors. Was William Wallace as nervous on the morning of the Battle of Stirling Bridge? And was the scale of his challenge as great, I wonder?
The day started cold and misty, with 80% of the aforementioned gubbins pre-loaded the evening before. The morning only necessitated the cramming-in of sufficient calories to allow survival of the tribe through the day and all the toiletries that couldn't be packed because they were needed for that morning's preparations. This was achieved in minutes and we were on the way.
I had taken the time to have a good play with the seats before we loaded up, and was fairly confident that there was more than sufficient room, even allowing a sensible underestimation factor. On first view, the uneducated would never know that the Outlander was a seven-seater. Even the very nice man who delivered vehicle admitted to having looked for a spare wheel but finding a double rear seat instead. When not in use, the rear bench seat recesses flush into the floor and goes completely unnoticed until you
The Mitsubishi Outlander is a big, tough, hefty beast. Not for the frail of body. Helena, our eldest (and undoubtedly weakest) had a bit of a struggle inclining and reclining the middle seats in order to access the rear two seats. It's all very 'chunky' and solid. This is good though, because this was the sort of trip that gives any car a bit of a hammering. I have to state, that even though it is a seven-seater, the rear two seats don't lend themselves to luxurious cruising for for hours on the road. They would be fine for a smaller framed little-one, but when they get to bumper-pack teenage size, a short run is more than enough. I actually made a point of hauling my own generous dimensions into one of the rear seats, and although I made it in, the idea of swinging a cat was right out of the equation! We were able to rotate seat allocations just sufficiently to prevent teenage-fuelled nuclear fallout, but believe me, we were very close to the Geiger Counter's red line by the time we got there.
This journey wasn't for the faint-hearted either! School holidays and all that! We broke it up into some quite clearly defined segments: 2 hours to get from Cardiff to the M25 traffic jam, with a strategic 'refreshment' stop at Reading en route; 1 hour in said traffic jam, taking the Mick out of our no-doubt very stressed neighbours (so cruel I know, but there again, such fun!); 1 hour to get to the A11 the other side of Cambridge and then finally half an hour queueing for the traffic lights at Elveden crossroads. I have since heard that this is perfectly normal and is nothing to worry about!
A holiday journey such as this could easily get many out there hot under the collar, but there is something about the Outlander that makes it all a lot easier. The sound system was superb, with its
Driving the Outlander is a pleasure. It isn't what you'd expect an SUV to be like. It's actually quite nimble-footed, perfectly happy on the open road, unlike some other SUV vehicles I've driven which rock like boats once trundling along the A-Roads. It gave no hint of being a 4x4, but seemed more in the MPV mould. The sixth gear and cruise control makes it an extremely long-legged and thrifty carriage. However, the very versatile 4-wheel drive system allows an automatic variable or fixed locked arrangement when needed, without the associated gas-guzzling tendency of permanent 4-wheel drive. I would be very confident of it being able to handle anything I, as a driver whose only normal need for 4-wheel drive would be on those few days of the year when an important journey needs to be made if the dreaded white stuff falls, which incidentally would have been on several occasions this year so far! At all other times, it could be left in 2-wheel drive and the associated amazing 40 mpg economy would be more than appreciated.
This is an exceptionally versatile and well-built all round large family car. I would personally not recommend seats 6 & 7 for adults on a long journey, as they are quite utilitarian and not particularly well padded. However, for a much lighter and smaller child they would be much more suitable and I guess more comfortable too. I thoroughly enjoyed the fresh, open feel to the cabin and the simplicity of the switchgear, notwithstanding my comments about the sat nav, made the whole driving experience completely relaxed. Some of the technology employed, such as the reversing camera, steering wheel cruise and audio controls made life even more pleasant. For those wanting a large family car with loads of easily accessible luggage space, a fuel tank that seems to go on forever and superb comfort and entertainment for front and rear seat passengers, there is little I have driven to date that I can compare it to.
Outlander 2.0 DI-D Elegance Manual 7 Seats