This Mitsubishi Outlander received a lot of looks over the weekend. I think those were mostly from people who have never seen this car — it looks a little weird and futuristic — or maybe they just haven’t seen the three-diamond logo in so long they forgot what it was. The front end might be a little odd for me, now that I stare at it. The big, dark area under the headlights and grille is too much. Maybe Mitsu could have done something more with the body color. Side, rear and three-quarter views are all fine, even cool. Visually, it falls squarely into “midsize SUV” territory for me.
Inside, it feels a little … I hate to say cheap, maybe just simple. It’s mostly black on black, with a little woodgrain thrown in. It’s far better than being too busy. The plastics are mostly hard, and the dash has a rubbery feel to it, but it’s flat, and outward visibility is good. It feels roomy inside, and looking toward the back seat there seems like plenty of space for people and cargo. I did have to scoot the front seat up a bit to fit the car seat back there, but there was still plenty of room.
I normally don’t like aftermarket radios, but this Rockford-Fosgate unit looks nice. It’s completely integrated with the dash, and the controls are easy to figure out. It’s also loud, but I expected that because I’ve had friends with Rockford equipment, mostly in high school, that was plenty loud. Always love seat and steering wheel heat. I hope wheel heat becomes as ubiquitous as seat heat.
The 3.0-liter V6 is peppy, and I would have guessed somewhere in the 250- to 270-hp range by the butt dyno. The engine’s eagerness, throttle tip-in and steering quickness make this utility feel faster than expected, and it’s nimble, too. At 3,600 pounds, it’s light for an SUV, so that feeling makes sense. The six-speed auto is the slowest thing about this car and was sluggish in both manual and automatic modes. I played with the paddles for a few minutes. I don’t know why I was expecting Evo-like shifts.
Like I said, the Outlander feels light all the way around and thin-walled. You will hear some road, tire and wind noise, but the suspension soaks up potholes well — even the jagged, unavoidable big ones. I didn’t have any weather to deal with so I didn’t use much of the Super Handling All-Wheel Control, though I did play with the button. There’s no sport mode — just normal, eco and snow, unfortunately. C’mon Mitsubishi, you guys couldn’t amp it up for one of the options!?
At $32,000 base, it’s not a bad value, although the base Jeep Grand Cherokee 4×4 starts at almost the exact same price. The Jeep feels more expensive overall, it’s quicker too with more horsepower and it looks better. Checking the dimensions, it’s also a few inches bigger, though it didn’t feel like a huge difference inside or on the road. The Grand Cherokee has always been my go-to comparison for non-luxe midsizers, and it’s still my choice in the segment.
Mitsubishi is sort of piecemeal in the market right now. We know the company can make an enjoyable vehicle, and at a decent price. This Outlander is close; another few years, a few upgrades, a few more horses, this SUV will be in the mix.
— Jake Lingeman, road test editor
As a legacy fan of Mitsubishi, it’s been hard to watch the car company responsible for the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution and the 3000GT nearly vanish. The last time I was in a Mitsu product was the final edition Lancer Evo. While that was a great driving enthusiast car, it felt ripped straight out of the early 2000s. I was expecting something similar from Mitsubishi’s latest Outlander and was pleasantly surprised.
Granted, it doesn’t feel premium, but the Outlander is full of the creature comforts you want out of a modern SUV. Like Jake mentions, that doesn’t mean it’s the best out there for the money, but it at least means this Mitsu has a fighting chance.
The 3.0-liter V6 only sends 224 hp to the six-speed automatic, but it feels peppier than that. You won’t be disappointed when you leave a stoplight, but you also won’t be thrown into the rear seat with the acceleration. The Rockford-Fosgate sound system does the deed and sounds good. The media screen is beautiful and snappy, and as good as just about anything on the market today. There is a sticker-like emblem on the top corner of the screen’s frame which will eventually fall off, but you won’t notice it when it’s gone.
It’s improved enough to make the folks who walk past the sea of Mirages at the local Mitsubishi dealership do a double take at these Outlanders.
— Wesley Wren, associate editor
On Sale: Now
Base Price: $32,590
As Tested Price: $34,090
Drivetrain: 3.0-liter SOHC V6, AWD six-speed automatic
Output: 224 hp @ 6,250 rpm; 215 lb-ft @ 3,750 rpm
Curb Weight: 3,626 lb
Fuel Economy: 20/37/23 mpg(EPA City/Hwy/Combined)
Options: GT Touring Package including multi-view camera system, forward collision mitigation, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, automatic high beam and heated steering wheel ($1,500)
Pros: Feels quicker than expected; budget entry
Cons: Lots of noise, quirky looks
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