The saying “teamwork makes the dream work” is ever present in the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance, ensuring each brand has a solid competitor in the mid-sized SUV market. In this case, it’s the Outlander Exceed.
Having spent time in the Nissan X-trail ST-L and the Outlander LS, this writer was quietly excited about the prospect of a week with the second highest grade in the range. Our example was finished in Cosmic Blue metallic, one of seven shades to choose from.
The colour really does the angular and boxy shape more justice than the Sterling Silver that draped the LS we tested previously, and the sparkle in the paintwork contrasted perfectly with the chrome accents of the grill and lights.
20-inch machine finished alloy wheels shod in 255/45 rubber enhance the look and make for a handsome and well finished vehicle. Peering in through the vast glasshouse gave us our first glimpse at the no-cost optional light grey leather interior.
It’s stunningly inviting against the dark exterior and added a nice touch of opulence. We were pleased to be sitting in what we feel are the nicest seats in this segment and price bracket.
In the Exceed, they are adjusted at the touch of a button for the front row, with memory functions and heating included. Atop a centre stack with a range of well thought out button-ware, sits a 9.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system.
The driver gets their own 12.3-inch screen which is configurable based on various vitals. The rest of the interior revealed similarities to the LS as expected, but with much nicer finishes – think brushed metal and piano blacks.
The driver still occupies not only that great seat, but a truly comfortable combination of pedal, seat and steering wheel placement. The Exceed also gains a head-up display, and comes in a 5+2 configuration.
Much like the LS, the third row is useless unless you want to seat a child that is either too little to sit alone, or a baby seat back there to frustrate yourself when you need to access it. The second row, however, is very nice.
There’s adequate room for two large adults in comfort and in the Exceed grade, a third air conditioning zone. We chose to leave the rear seats down to maximise space. With them up, there’s enough for a couple of schoolbags.
With them down this increases to 478-litres, which expands out to an IKEA-shop sized 1,461-litres when the second row is folded flat. Our test vehicle was fitted with an optional towbar. It’s rated to tow 750kg, which increases to 1,600kg braked capacity.
We’re not sure we’d be towing anything of great heft with a CVT gearbox but would happily use it for a bike rack. Other optional accessories we got to sample included a heavy PVC cargo protector. It’d be a great way to keep dog hair off the carpets.
First and second row occupants get to bask in the sun thanks to a monstrous sunroof, which really sets off the light interior. If the blazing yellow orb in the sky’s too much, parents will love the built-in pull-up blinds on the rear windows.
Everyone gets the benefit of listening to their favourite tracks through an excellent 10-speaker Bose audio system, which features wireless Apple CarPlay and wired Android Auto. It offers a great combination of volume and fidelity, and is a pleasant surprise.
All occupants can enjoy these comforts while housing their drinks in cup holders front and rear. Second row passengers will be open to items in the cargo compartment rolling their way though, as the centre armrest opens a gap into the boot when folded down.
Our thoughts went immediately to the ensuing disaster that would come from a hungry English Bulldog we love in our parts, and a mid-trip snack for the kids. At least there are two USB charging ports front and rear that complement the wireless charger up front.
The Exceed maintains the same 135kW/244Nm 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine found across the range, which is backed by one of the best CVT’s this driver has sampled. It drives all four wheels through Mitsubishi’s Super All-Wheel Control AWD system.
The difference is minimal in terms of drive dynamics, but it was pleasingly not prone to losing traction to the inside front tyre as readily as a 2WD variant. We did see a difference in fuel consumption though.
The LS managed 9.8-litres/100km during our test, while the Exceed couldn’t better 10.2-litres/100km. Both these figures are against a claimed 7.7-litres/100km and 8.1-litres/100km respectively.
Where the Outlander is at its, best is when cruising. It can hustle if you need it, even without choosing Sport mode, but the point is, it is inordinately quiet, composed and almost luxurious in in the way the drivetrain and suspension interact to create the ride.
Our only gripe is those attractive 20-inch wheels we mentioned earlier. It’s clear the suspension tune hasn’t been adjusted to suit the reduction in sidewall from a 60 to 45 profile. It simply doesn’t float over harsh bumps like the LS did.
Instead, it’s disappointingly unsettled. It feels underdamped, despite an improved turn in and confidence through corners, which one would expect with more aggressive rubber. Safety continues to be well serviced too.
Standard equipment includes lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and predictive collision alert and mitigation, including for pedestrians. Driver attention alert, lane change assist and emergency brake assist also features.
With all that on the table, it really does surprise this writer that the Outlander doesn’t get more praise. In fact, another motoring publication crowned its cousin, the X-trail, medium SUV of the year. Having driven both, we feel that accolade is more befitting the Outlander.
With a 10-year warranty and 10-years capped price servicing, and a drive away price starting at $57,420 – the Outlander Exceed could happily provide years of worry free, comfortable motoring.
Our test vehicle was supplied by Mitsubishi Motors Australia for review purposes.