This Week On Car Clinic: The Problem With Mitsubishis

Hi JM,

I am a Mitsubishi fan, period. Having said that, you’ll have to forgive me if I am a little biased towards cars Mits. 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?

Nyawa Mwangulu.

Hello Nyawa,

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.

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.

 

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. 

Patrick

 

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.

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 in it 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.

 

Hi Baraza,

There’s this car that my dad owned that kicked the petrol head in me. 

His first car was a Peugeot  504 station wagon. It was a speedy car and the revs used to sound  “cool”. Then one day he showed up with a “smaller” car (a 1979 B210 Datsun Coupe).  I hated it the first time I saw it. It had two doors. But once I got inside, I thought I was looking at a Boeing cockpit. The car’s dashboard used to light up in a “beautiful” green and everything about this small car seemed so beautiful. That is where my love for “sporty cars” started.

I wish you could do a review of this gem of a car.

Moses.

 

You are right, Moses, this was  one beautiful car. They don’t make them like they used to, huh? I’d do a review if I could get my hands on one, so to any readers out there who have such a unit (and that includes Moses’ Dad) and are willing to submit it for a temporary testing regime, get in touch with us at this address. It’s about time I did another classic car review.

 

Hi Baraza,

I join other fans in applauding you for the very informative and educating weekly column on all things cars.

I have driven a Toyota Voxy 2006 for three years now and it has served me well in spite of its very low ground clearance.  I wish to upgrade to either a Mitsubishi Outlander, Honda CRV or Subaru Forester. I do weekly return trips between Nairobi and Eldoret and will be changing residence very soon, which will entail regulalry covering a two-kilometre stretch of rough road that can be very challenging during the rainy season. I have enjoyed the versatility of the Voxy in terms of space whenever the  need arose but it  will be a nightmare in my  new residence.

Kindly advise on a better choice between the three  SUVs in terms of reliability, durability, comfort and economy. My budget is Kshs1.7m

James Chebii

 

Hello Chebii,

This will be fairly easy. You have a choice between the Outlander, the CRV and the Forester, right? Your criteria include reliability, durability, comfort and economy, right? And you have at hand Sh 1.7 million. I’m assuming you want a fresh import; not metal that has already endured Kenyan hands on Kenyan roads with Kenyan driving styles and Kenyan maintenance, right? So here goes:

The Outlander is summarily dismissed from the list because it fails on the reliability and durability fronts (see today’s response to one Nyawa Mwangulu above). So that one is out. The CRV follows suit in making a rapid exit because you will not get one for 1.7 million, unless you source it yourself from wherever they come from; and at that price range you will be dabbling with high-mileage examples.

That leaves us with the Forester. Problem solved.

 

Dear Baraza,

Please advise between the following cars using the parameters of cost, maintenance, versatility, running ease, prestige and availability in the local market.

VW toureg

Toyota Vanguard/RAV 4 (what is the difference)

Ford Escape

Subaru Forester

Mitsubishi Outback

Toyota Hilux double cab/Isuzu DMAX double Cab/Ford Ranger double cab (please compare the pick-ups)

Honda CRV

Toyota Harrier/Lexus

Suzuki Escudo

Please help because my wife and I can’t seem to agree on which one to buy. My budget is Sh 2 million to Sh2.5 million  for a car that is not more than six years old , that is  2010 made. Also, do not hesitate to advise on other cars that you think fit my criteria.

Stephen Mbugua.

jmb-mid

Interesting quandary, this. I will give the ratings relative to each other, on a scale of zero (“you’d rather walk than buy this”) to five (“you should be transferring money by the time you are done reading this”)

*: The difference between a Vanguard and a RAV is one or two extra inches of wheelbase length in favour of the Vanguard

**:Subaru Outback. Mitsubishi Outlander. There’s no such thing as a Mitsubishi Outback.

***: I have compared these pickups countless times before.

****: There are some differences between the Lexus RX and the Toyota Harrier, much as they are the same car.

Disclaimer: for a car newer than YOM 2010 on a budget of Sh2.5 million means you will have to scrap half the list, leaving only the Fozzie, Escape, Outlander, Escudo and CRV. All the rest will cost more than the 2.5 you have budgeted for.

 

Hello Baraza,

I am an ardent reader of your very  informative column. I am in a dilemmat trying to decide between the Nissan skyline 250GT and the Mark X 250G. I am looking for something sporty and reliable.

 

Get the Mark X. It is more reliable than the Skyline, plus the replacement model is hot.

 

Hi JM,

I’m a big fan of yours and now need some help on an issue that has been bogging me down.

I have a 2006 Peugeot 307 with overheating issues. I’ve tried all manner of fixes but the problem persists. I’ve changed the water pump, thermostat and switch, head gasket, flushed the radiator system but the overheating persists.

The Funny thing is that this mostly happens when I am stuck in a jam or driving at low speed. Once I pick up speed, the temperature gauge moves to around 90. I’ve tried driving with the fan on and AC temperature at maximum but when I slow down.

it displays “stop” on the dashboard  and temp gauge reaches the red line. Someone mentioned  that it could be the ECU or coolant temperature sensor acting up but before I replace them, I need a second opinion 

Edgar

 

I’ll give you a third opinion instead. Sell it while you still can. If you can manage to sell it “as is”, then do so, sinking any more money into it might prove futile, frustrating and you might  end up shopping for a stool and a rope.

The thing with Peugeots is that remote diagnosis is rarely accurate as their myriad problems could be caused by anything, from as serious as poor maintenance to as fickle as poor weather.

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