Family SUV comparison: Mitsubishi Outlander Exceed Tourer vs Nissan X-Trail Ti
Business babble: For carmakers, aximising commonality between ostensibly disparate models improves economies of scale, amortises development costs faster and boosts the bottom line.
But occasionally, seeking automotive synergies can have… negative effects. Lazy re-skins and howling obvious examples of badge engineering are peppered throughout automotive history – but in which category would we find these twins under the skin, the Mitsubishi Outlander and Nissan X-Trail?
Their relationship is clearly a little more complex than a Commodore/Lexcen scenario, but are they virtuously synergistic while maintaining their own identity - or is the Outlander just an X-Trail with a costume change?
|X-Trail Ti (5 seats)||$49,990||$51,990|
|Outlander Exceed Tourer (7 seats)||$52,490||$53,908|
|Prices exclude on-road costs|
- In the cabin
- Comfort, space and convenience
- Boot space: Storage and seat folding
- Powertrain and fuel use
- On the road
- Warranty period and servicing costs
Model by model: In the cabin
In Australia, the Outlander was the first to touch down – awkward, considering it piggy-backed on the development programme of the new-gen X-Trail as one of the first post-acquisition joint projects with its (then-new) owner, Nissan.
As such, we’re by now quite familiar with the Outlander’s interior. Spacious and sprawling, it’s a cabin that feels like it encroaches on the large SUV segment thanks to its offering of three rows and seven seats, rather than the mid-size segment norm of just two rows and five seats.
Attempt to sit in that third row, however, and it quickly becomes apparent that these are only suitable for children and petite adults, even with the sliding second row pushed as far forward as practical. Both headroom and legroom are pretty tight back there.
But it sure feels upmarket, especially considering the demure cabin of the previous-generation Outlander. At Exceed Tourer level, the Outlander also packs in plenty of gloss and glitter in the form of two-tone quilted leather upholstery for the seats, doors and dash, good-looking silver accents on switchgear and air vents, a massive panoramic glass sunroof, 12.3-inch digital instrument panel, a 9-inch touchscreen infotainment, head-up display, tri-zone climate control, heated AND massage-capable front seats, heated outboard rear seats, integrated rear sunblinds, a head-up display, and a wireless phone charger.
It’s certainly feature-rich, but the Exceed Tourer is more than just a box-ticking exercise – all of those features function well and do the job asked of them – except perhaps the slightly weak massage seats. That said, seat comfort is decent enough that you shouldn’t want too much for a mid-drive shiatsu sesh.
And yet stepping into the X-Trail Ti puts you in a dramatically different environment. While the Outlander feels quasi-premium, the X-Trail feels even more high-end, with more pleasing textures to its soft-touch and hard plastic surfaces.
While the Outlander puts firm perforated leather on its steering wheel grips, the X-Trail boasts more supple, finer-grained leather – and it’s the same with the rest of the leather-clad bits too.
The family ties are obvious when you look at the switch blocks, the electronic instrument panel, HVAC module, and layout of the shifter and steering wheel buttons (all measures that improve that all-important manufacturing synergy) but the interiors are set apart by their designs and layouts.
The X-Trail, with its additional under-console storage shelf, a trans selector that’s offset toward the driver and split console box lid, nevertheless has the more intelligently-designed cabin thanks to better space utilisation.
The X-Trail also has plenty of functional differences. The ventilation controls are positioned higher, its 12.3-inch infotainment display provides more screen real estate, and the aforementioned lower console storage is a genuine plus to everyday utility.
The tradeoff is in some spec – the Ti doesn’t get integrated rear door sunshades, seat position memory, hands-free tailgate or heated rear seats, and a three-row configuration is only available in the lower-spec X-Trail St and ST-L.
Comfort, space and convenience
Great seats, Plenty of in-car storage and fantastic ergonomics are X-Trail highlights, however there’s one feature that stands out as being not only unique to the Nissan, but something that makes a significant difference to this car’s liveability: its rear door hinges.
They’re unique to the X-Trail and made of cast metal rather than folded sheet steel as on the Outlander, and they permit the rear doors to open to just under 90 degrees. That, combined with the generously-sized door aperture and sliding rear seats, makes entry and egress ultra-easy – especially for parents loading in young ones.
Kat Fisk on child seats
Fitting child seats was a doddle, too, thanks to conveniently-accessible Isofix anchors, easily-adjustable headrests and a retractable parcel shelf with a huge gap for feeding the top tether belt through – though we prefer tether hooks that you don’t have to fiddle inside the lining of the back of the rear seats to find.
The Mitsubishi’s front seats feel like armchairs for the amply-proportioned, but thankfully don’t have a corresponding La-Z-Boy squish to their cushioning. Offering decent support and a massage function to boot, their quilted leather upholstery also looks pretty special. Oh how far the Outlander has come.
And yet, despite being 30mm longer and 22mm wider the Outlander doesn’t feel much bigger than the X-Trail. It also doesn’t use its cabin volume as effectively as the Nissan either, with fewer in-cabin storage options and a lower boot capacity. Even so, the availability of a third row of seating is an advantage that can’t be ignored, and for some buyers would be a deal-making feature.
Kat Fisk on child seats
Where the Outlander fell down here is that access to its rear seats is quite tight and far inferior to the Nissan. The X-Trail’s rear doors open wide to 90 degrees, but the Mitsubishi’s only open to around 60-70 degrees.
Boot space: Storage and seat folding
|BOOT SPACE||Second row up||Second row flat||Rear seat split|
|Nissan X-Trail Ti||585L||N/A*||40/20/40|
|Mitsubishi Outlander Exceed Tourer||478L||1473L||40/20/40|
|*Nissan doesn't offer this figure|
At 585 litres, the X-Trail’s boot is the second-largest in the segment (the Tiguan has the most capacious rump, in case you were wondering). That’s more than enough room to throw a pram or a bunch of boogie boards into, and keeping your gear organised can be facilitated by the movable false floor panels, which can adjust their height or be re-oriented into vertical dividers.
What Nissan doesn’t give you is a method of dropping the second-row seatbacks from the tailgate area, or the convenience of shopping bag hooks in the boot.
Having to package an entire row of seating under the boot means the Outlander doesn’t have the underfloor stowage of the X-Trail, but it’s still impressive that the engineers managed to package it to provide a still-useful 478-litre capacity. The rear wheel-arch trims pinch the width down a little relative to the X-Trail (and are trimmed in nasty hard plastic rather than the X-Trail’s sound-muffling carpet), however remote release handles for the second-row seatbacks are present.
There’s even enough room to stow the retractable cargo blind, and the entire third row module lifts up to reveal a space-saver spare and toolkit.
Powertrain and fuel use
|FUEL ECONOMY||ADR 81/02 rating||Tested economy||% difference||Fuel type|
Here’s where the two cars bear the most resemblance. The PR25DD 2.5-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine is the sole non-electrified option for both Outlander and X-Trail, and generates 135kW and 244Nm in both and takes power to either the front wheels or all wheels via a continuously-variable transmission (our testers are both AWD).
For the X-Trail, Nissan claims an average fuel burn of 7.8L/100km, with our testing (which involved some dynamic driving) returning a 9.8L/100km real-world result.
With the same engine under the bonnet and the same driveline taking power to all four wheels, the Outlander’s fuel economy should be pretty similar, right? Well, that depends on who you ask.
Mitsubishi’s claim for the Exceed Tourer AWD is 8.1L/100km on the combined cycle, 0.3L/100km higher than the X-Trail, which would make sense given it weighs 92kg more than the X-Trail Ti AWD and rolls on heavier 20-inch alloys rather than the 19s of the Nissan.
And yet, on our drive loop the Outlander clocked a fuel burn of 9.7L/100km – 0.1L/100km better than the X-Trail. Yeah, we can’t work that one out either.
On the road
Though sharing much mechanically, there’s a tangible difference between how these two cars drive that’s immediately obvious on a back-to-back drive.
Performance from the 2.5-litre is adequate but not sparkling in both cars, but the X-Trail does feel a touch more lively off the line thanks to its nearly 100kg weight advantage. Its steering is also more fluid and progressive in its weighting in around-town driving.
Though both cars lack some critical steering feedback when the road gets twisty, the Nissan’s front end does tend to feel a little sensitive to inputs – a more inert feel would probably be better for this kind of vehicle.
No complaints with the X-Trail’s suspension, though, which is superbly calibrated for both ride comfort and handling. Slightly on the firm side, but really only just. The CVT’s performance is also exceptional, quietly slurring away on light throttle, but responding quickly to demands for power.
The Mitsubishi sports a different character. More firmly-sprung than the X-Trail and with bigger wheels, it delivers a significantly sharper ride over relatively minor road imperfections that’s not quite ideal for a family wagon – particularly for whoever’s in the third row.
And yet, it still likes to roll. With more rubber contacting the ground (the Outlander Exceed’s tyres are 20mm wider than the X-Trail’s) it does feel more stable and not as easy to shake loose, but it also lacks the engaging feel of its cousin.
Ultimately, the Outlander would be improved if it kept its stable and predictable handling intact, but did away with the rather firm ride.
Warranty period and servicing costs
|SERVICING COSTS||Service interval||3yr/39k km cost||5yr/65k km cost|
Nissan offers a standard warranty term of 5 years and unlimited kilometres. Servicing costs are on the high side though, with intervals of 10,000km and 12 months and a total maintenance cost of $1387.25 over three years, or $2674.64 over five years.
If you’re a model customer and keep taking your Outlander back to a Mitsubishi dealer for scheduled maintenance, you’ll get to enjoy a generous 10 year, 200,000km factory warranty.
Go outside of that system, though, and you’ll receive a reduced warranty period of 5 years and 100,000km – which is sub-par in an era where almost every manufacturer is offering at least 5 years/unlimited kilometre warranty coverage.
Balancing that out is a longer service interval compared to the X-Trail of 15,000km/12 months, as well as lower pricing for scheduled maintenance. At the three-year mark the Outlander only asks for $947 in maintenance, rising to $1595 by the five-year mark.
Synergies under the skin rarely deliver an identical outcome, and it’s the many layers on top that distinguish these two from each other.
To drive, they feel wholly different. The in-cabin experience is also more different than you’d expect – though if you spent a little more on the X-Trail and plumped for the $52,990 Ti-L grade, you’d get a car that more closely matches the Outlander Exceed Tourer for price and spec (albeit without the 7-seat capability).
Of the two, it’s the X-Trail that feels more well-rounded. Its focus on improving life for those aft of the B-pillar is virtuous for a family SUV, and its wide-opening doors and versatile boot area are things families will surely appreciate. It also rides more comfortably and has a better cabin design, not to mention the technological wow-factor of its larger infotainment package and superior software.
However, if you need to transport more than five people and you want a feature-rich SUV to do so, then the choice is already made for you: the Outlander simply has more seats at this level of specification. Remove that requirement, however, and it’s the X-Trail that rises to the top.
🥇 Nissan X-Trail Ti: 8.5/10
Things we like
- Bigger, better and more premium than ever
- richly trimmed cabin offers loads of comfort and equipment
- comfy urban ride
- clever storage solutions
Not so much...
- Dynamics good rather than great due to vague steering/intrusive ESC
- short service intervals
- only mid-pack for economy and warranty coverage
Mitsubishi Outlander Exceed Tourer: 7.5/10
Things we like
- Richly equipped and comfortable cabin
- Only contender on test with 7 seats
- 10-year warranty longest of our group
Not so much...
- Firm and compromised ride on 20s
- Amp petrol + CVT combo uninspiring
- Inferior packaging and storage compared with related Nissan X-Trail
|Mitsubishi Outlander Exceed Tourer||Nissan X-Trail Ti|
|Safety, value and features||8||8.5|
|Comfort and space||7||7.5|
|Engine and gearbox||6.5||6.5|
|Ride and handling||6||7.5|
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|Nissan X-Trail Ti||Mitsubishi Outlander Exceed Tourer|
|Engine||4cyl, dohc, 16v||4cyl, dohc, 16v|
|Gearbox||Continuously variable||continuously variable|
|Body||Steel, 5 doors, 5 seats||steel, 5 doors, 7seats|
|Boot||585 litres||478 litres|
|Economy||9.8L/100km (tested)||9.7L/100km (tested)|
|ANCAP rating||5 stars||5 stars|
|Warranty||5 years/unlimited kilometres||5 year/100,000km OR 10 year/200,000km|
|Service interval||12 months/10,000km||12 months/15,000km|