The Mitsubishi Airtrek, which is the earlier model of Mitsubishi Outlander, is a medium sized CUV from Japanese manufacturers Mitsubishi Motors. This is a perfect choice of car for adventurous types and families who like taking day trips. At the same time though, it's also a versatile vehicle that will serve you well in an urban environment while giving you plenty of space for long legs or luggage.
Key Features and Specifications
Range of engines
High performance model available
Front or four wheel drive
Foldable back seats
The Mitsubishi Airtrek comes in a variety of engine sizes to suit your needs and there's even a high performance model that uses a detuned version of the 4G63T 2.0 L I4 Turbo engine from the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution. It has four doors, a front engine and the option of front or four wheel drive. It's also available in a variety of colors.
History and Name Change
The CUV was originally introduced in Japan in 2001, during which time it was known as the Mitsubishi Aitrek. More recently, it tends to go by the moniker 'Outlander'. The design was based on the Mitsubishi ASX, which was a concept vehicle first shown during the 2001 International Auto Show in North America.
The original name 'Airtrek' was intended to evoke the spirit of adventure and freedom that Mitsubishi hoped would be associated with the vehicle. The car was intended to take its passengers on all kinds of excursions and treks and to make drivers feel 'as free as a bird'.
Apparently though, Mitsubishi felt this name wasn't quite sufficient in selling the dream and so 'Outlander' was chosen instead to suggest journeys to outlying lands, previously unexplored. This new name was adopted in 2005 when the second generation of vehicles was introduced. Generally though, the name 'Airtrek' can still be used to refer to the first generation of vehicles. To be honest, 'Airtrek' probably sounded a bit too much like a name for a pair of sneakers; though to be fair, 'Outlander' sounds a little like a science fiction computer game…
Performance and Experience
The Aitrek and its kin have been generally well received, with the Outlander P-HEV being selected as one of the five finalists at the World Green Car of the Year 2014. The HEV of course being a hybrid version of the Outlander and actually the first plug-in hybrid sub in the world (though the older models perform well in terms of efficiency too).
By all accounts, the Airtrek and Outlander are modern SUVs that are much more suited to urban environments than the SUVs of yesteryear. That means plenty of grip and little body roll. You also get slightly firmer suspension than you might expect from a vehicle with off-road aspirations. Of course this might make the ride a little more bumpy when you're heading down a gravel track, but the Airtrek can more than handle it.
Inside, the Airtrek offers the option for a third row of seats which will likely come in handy on those family trips. The transformation capabilities are kept nice and simple too: only a button press is needed in order to fold the second row of seats.
You will also have no complaints when it comes to comfort or space. You'll find that this model is more than capable of keeping your passengers happy even on longer journeys.
Despite a slight case of identity crisis, the Aitrek/Outlander is a very well designed SUV. It's durable, it's practical, it's comfortable and it's versatile enough to be a practical option while still giving you the ability to take those off-road detours when you get a hankering for some action and adventure. Overall, the Aitrek comes with a unreserved recommendation, just make sure you choose the right specifications for your requirements.