Mitsubishi Outlander

Mitsubishi Outlander.

| Shutterstock

I am itching to get my hands on an Outlander, what do you have to say about it?

What you need to know:

  • The Pajero would be an awesome off-roader if it wasn’t so soft – literally.
  • MIVEC stands for Mitsubishi Innovative Valve timing Electronic Control.

I am a Mitsubishi fan, period. Having said that, you’ll have to forgive me if I am a little biased towards this brand. I love the Evos, and I can’t help ogling at the Outlander, especially, the Roadest.

Anyway, I want to acquire an Outlander, so I have to try and be realistic regarding whether I can live with one or not. So, would you please tell me what you know about the Outlanders, 2000cc and 2400cc? Their evolution since 2006 in terms of performance, fuel efficiency and safety/reliability?

I know they are beautiful, so you can skip that. Can you also try to demystify the much-touted MIVEC?


The problem with Mitsubishis is if they are good, they are very good. Take a gander at the Lancer Evolution and the Fuso line of trucks: paragons of excellence in their respective fields. However, when Mitsubishis are bad, they are damn near pathetic. Steal a glance at the ordinary Lancer saloon. Boring car, further marred by constant unreliability. The Pajero would be an awesome off-roader if it wasn’t so soft – literally. The thing bends and splits along the B pillar if you are always going down the untrodden path. Then there is the Outlander.

The performance is so-so, nothing spectacular for its field despite the extra cubic inches from the 2.4 litre engine (most of its rivals hover around the 2.0 litre mark). Fuel efficiency is very good if you drive like a coward; put your foot down and all that MIVEC-GDI sorcery focuses on not getting left behind and forgets that fuel economy is a real thing. Turn on the taps and the thirst becomes apparent. Safety ratings look impressive: five stars each for drivers and passengers (as well as their seats), with the not-quite-fly-in-the-ointment four stars going to general rollover rating.

Mitsubishi Outlander

Mitsubishi Outlander.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

A deeper look reveals that while most parameters receive the maximum “good” mark, the safety cage, roof strength and passenger foot wells can only manage as second best score of “average” at best. Not bad at all. As far as reliability goes, the Outlander does not wield a strong club when it comes to street cred. Many are the lamentations against it, its electrical systems and its automatic transmission. I’d give it a pass and steer towards a Honda CRV should the need to buy one of these vehicles arise.

MIVEC stands for Mitsubishi Innovative Valve timing Electronic Control. It is analogous to Toyota’s VVT-i and Honda’s famous VTEC in that valve timing is controlled electronically to optimise power and torque outputs. In essence, the camshafts have two profiles: a low performance, high-efficiency setup for low rev operations such as when going to the shops or to church, and a high-performance (and thirsty), high rev gig for when you notice a Subaru Forester in your mirrors and it has a hood scoop.

Between the Honda Stream and Subaru Exiga, which takes the trophy?

Hi Baraza,

I am about to buy my first car and I am yet to decide between the Honda Stream and Subaru Exiga (without turbo). Which one is better in terms of maintenance costs, fuel consumption, efficiency and availability of spare parts? I am yet to see you review any of these vehicles in your articles. 


Subaru Exiga

Subaru Exiga.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Hello Wanjohi,

The reason you have not seen a review, however cursory, of a Subaru Exiga is because I have never written one. This in turn is because I am yet to drive one and the vehicle is still new enough on our shores for there to be a dearth of intimate knowledge about long-term ownership implications.

That said, it is a Subaru: the availability of spare parts is a given, efficiency is 50:50 depending on many things, consumption is the same as efficiency (why did you use two different expressions to ask about the same thing?) and maintenance costs will be comparatively higher than those of cars in the same class.

Honda Stream

Honda Stream.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

The reason you have not seen a review, however cursory, of a Honda Stream is because you probably failed to buy the paper on the material day I wrote it. For your sake I will repeat it (more or less). It is becoming fairly common so parts are easily available. It is very efficient, this car.

However: try not to pursue Exigas if you want to maintain its teetotalling tendencies. While maintenance costs are not exactly punitive (given the car’s reliability), keep an eye peeled for profiteering seekers of fast money who will regale you with tall tales about how you need platinum plugs with four electrodes that sell for three grand apiece. You don’t need them – ordinary plugs will do.

I am a car enthusiast and an ardent reader of your column

A few days ago, I was driving a Toyota Hiace, powered by a 3-litre 5L engine of Toyota’s famous L Series. The clutch kit had been replaced a few weeks back and was running smoothly. I was going up a steep slope on fourth gear, until I needed more power to complete the slope, so I did the normal thing – eased off the gas pedal, stepped on the clutch and pushed the stick “towards gear 3”.

On releasing the clutch, the engine revved really hard, so hard I thought I was going to break everything, including my eardrums. I thought the revving would go away if I took the clutch back in but it didn’t and in less than five seconds, I quickly turned off the engine. By then I had realised I had not pushed the gear shift hard enough to 3 and had instead stopped at neutral, a very expensive mistake when moving uphill, but that I could handle.

What I couldn’t is, when I ignited the engine, it resumed the mad revving! It revved so hard that I had to turn it off . This got me puzzled because I was in neutral, with my right foot actually on the brake pedal. Beginning to brace myself for a night out in the cold, I ignited the engine timidly; it picked up well, luckily, and the rest of my drive was normal.

What could be the reason for this?


There is one thing we are not quite clear on. When the engine was revving itself, was your foot on the accelerator pedal? If yes, then the answer is obvious: take your foot off the throttle. But I’m guessing the answer is no. This is what might have happened. You might have damaged your engine slightly during that fateful gear change.

My suspicion is that when you tried to downshift into third, you did not stop at neutral as you suspect; you might have gone into first gear instead. The two gear positions are juxtaposed anyway, and with a wonky linkage, missing one for the other is not unheard of. Going into too low a gear for the prevailing road speed causes the engine to over-rev. The problem with over-revving a diesel engine is that it suffers from a phenomenon I have discussed here before called “hydraulicking”, whereby the engine feeds on itself.

Diesel engines are made of very heavy components that are designed to withstand the attendant high pressures and comparatively low engine speeds. So when the engine speed shoots up suddenly, the laws of physics governing inertia and momentum come into play and one of the many things that might happen is that the valve seals or piston rings might get shattered, which means oil starts seeping into the cylinders in sufficient quantities.

Toyota Hiace

Toyota Hiace.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Sufficient? Yes, sufficient. You see, diesel fuel is actually very similar to oil (and is sometimes referred to as diesel oil) and a diesel engine can actually run on engine oil. So when hot engine oil starts entering the cylinders, it is no longer lubrication, it is now fuel; and this begins a vicious circle that might quickly destroy your engine. The leaking oil, now acting as fuel, causes the engine to rev up - diesel engine speeds are controlled by metering fuel, not air like in petrol engines, so with a surfeit of “fuel” (oil), the engine revs rise to the maximum. The high engine speeds create a greater suction effect, which in turn pulls more oil into the cylinders, which cause the revs to rise even higher, thereby increasing the suction effect even more and.... you can see where this is going. Within seconds your engine will be roaring in a horrific final battle cry as it eats itself alive, inevitably ending in a massive seizure and the need for a new engine.

It seems in your case that the seal breach was not as bad as it could have been, seeing how the car behaved itself afterwards. Have that engine overhauled, though, if you don’t want a repeat of this incident.
The second time round could prove fatal for your vehicle.

What ails my misbehaving Toyota Runx?
I have a Toyota Runx whose problem is the engine cutting off when in motion. This happens frequently, sometimes three times on a 50km trip. I have been to several mechanics who have tried changing the fuel filter, cleaning the throttle as well as the sensors, all in vain. What could be the problem?

Julius Ouma

Hello Julius,

The information you submitted is very sketchy, but we will still give it a shot. An engine cutting out while you’re driving is most likely a victim of vapour lock, caused by excessive heat in the engine.

So, does the stalling occur only when the engine is abnormally hot? If yes, then vapour lock is the culprit.

The excessive heat boils the petrol in the fuel lines, causing bubbles within the liquid and thus the engine runs lean, that is, there is not enough fuel in the intake charge; the air:fuel ratio is off.

Since the engine can’t run like this for long, it stalls every now and then. If the engine temperature is within the normal operating range — and given that you have fuel injection — then the cause of the stalling could be a faulty fuel pressure regulator.