BEST IN CLASS FUEL ECONOMY PLUS FULL SEVEN PASSENGER SUV
The Mitsubishi Outlander has been extensively redesigned for 2016. Notable changes include improved fuel mileage, a nicer interior, a standard third-row seat and new high-tech features.
The redesigned 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander certainly qualifies as the big dog in the small crossover SUV segment. With significant improvements it has received this year, the Outlander will be the obvious choice in a class that's loaded with qualified candidates. Mitsubishi's compact crossover is a solid entry.
However, for consumers who want to own something a little different, this third-generation Mitsubishi Outlander has a number of things going for it. First off, powertrain tweaks and more aerodynamic (if somewhat less distinctive) styling combine to deliver improved EPA fuel economy estimates. The Outlander is now rated for up to 31 mpg highway, an above-average number among seven-passenger crossovers, while combined fuel economy (the more important number to look at) is up 2 mpg for both the four-cylinder and V6 engines. The overhauled interior is another welcome change, as it offers a more stylish design, improved materials, a telescoping steering wheel (making it easier to get comfortable in the driver seat) and a sturdier third-row seat that's now standard across the lineup.
Optional high-tech features such as adaptive cruise control, collision avoidance and lane-departure warning systems also give the Outlander some advantages over many of its competitors, and there's a plug-in hybrid model coming later in 2016. Performance from both of the conventional engines is awesome for this class, and the third-row seat is much improved, so it's really very useful for kids and in a pinch for adults.
With all that in mind, crossover shoppers will want to compare the 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander with five-passenger models such as the Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, Mazda CX-5 and Toyota RAV4. If it's the Outlander's seven-passenger seating capacity that draws your interest, you'll also want to add the Kia Sorento and Hyundai Santa Fe to your test-drive list. Although the 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander out shines and is well-rounded and well-established rivals in the compact crossover class, this Mitsubishi is still worth a look.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander is a seven-passenger crossover SUV that's available in three trim levels: the base ES, SE, SEL and top-of-the-line GT.
The ES comes standard with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, ALLOY wheels, fog lights, heated mirrors, rear privacy glass, full power accessories, automatic climate control, a 60/40 split-folding second-row seat that slides and reclines, a 50/50-split third-row seat, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, cruise control and a six-speaker sound system.
Stepping up to the SE gets you Standard 18-inch alloy wheels, keyless ignition/entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a rearview camera, Mitsubishi's "Fuse" voice command system (for phone and audio control), and an upgraded audio system with a 6-inch touchscreen display, HD radio and an iPod/USB interface. The GT further adds the 3.0-liter V6, all-wheel drive and a few more luxuries such as automatic xenon headlights, rain-sensing wipers and satellite radio.
The SEL and GT models can be had with a Premium option package that includes a sunroof, a power liftgate, leather upholstery, a power driver seat and a nine-speaker Rockford Fosgate surround-sound audio system with satellite radio. A Touring package available for the SE and GT trims bundles all of the above with rain-sensing wipers, a voice-operated navigation system, a larger 7-inch touchscreen display, and adaptive cruise control with a collision-warning/mitigation system and lane-departure warning.
Stand-alone options for the Outlander include rear parking sensors, remote start, an Exterior package (rear spoiler and restyled front and rear lower fascias) and a rear-seat entertainment system.
Powertrains and Performance
The Mitsubishi Outlander is offered with two powertrains. The ES, SE, and SEL get a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that generates 166 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque. A continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) is standard. ES models are front-wheel drive only, while the SEL can be had with either front-wheel or all-wheel drive.
Under the GT's hood is a 3.0-liter V6 that produces 224 hp and 215 lb-ft of torque. A conventional six-speed automatic and all-wheel drive are standard.
EPA fuel economy estimates for the 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine are above average at 25 mpg city/31 mpg highway and 27 mpg combined with front-wheel drive and 24/29/26 when equipped with all-wheel drive. With the 3.0-liter V6, the Outlander's fuel economy drops to 20/28/23.
Standard safety features on the Mitsubishi Outlander include antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, hill-start assist, a driver-side knee airbag, front seat side airbags and side curtain airbags.
Optional electronic safety features include lane-departure warning and a forward collision- warning/mitigation system. The latter can sense an impending frontal collision, alert the driver and, if the driver fails to react, apply light brake pressure followed by full panic braking, potentially bringing the Outlander to a halt if it was originally traveling under 20 mph.
Interior Design and Special Features
Perhaps the most noticeable shortcoming of the previous-generation Outlander was its cheap-feeling interior. The Mitsubishi Outlander rectifies that with an overhauled cabin that's more attractive and done up in much nicer materials.
Front seats are a little on the firm side, but offer a good amount of legroom, as do the second-row seats, which can slide fore and aft and recline for greater comfort. Some buyers may view the standard third-row seat as a plus, but this seat is really only suited for occasional use by small kids.
When it comes to hauling stuff, you'll find 34.2 cubic feet of cargo room behind the second-row seats and 63.3 cubic feet with both rows folded down. These numbers fall short of the cargo space in most other compact crossovers, including the CR-V and Escape.
Acceleration with the 2.4-liter four-cylinder won't stir your soul. If you mainly drive in town, you'll find its performance adequate, but there's really not enough power here for pleasurable highway travel. In addition, due to the nature of the CVT, accelerating up to freeway speeds has the engine at high rpm for prolonged periods of time, and the resulting noises are less than appealing. The V6 certainly sounds better and is more powerful, but it's still not as potent or enjoyable as the V6s and optional turbocharged four-cylinder engines found in rival models.
On the move, the Mitsubishi Outlander offers a comfortable ride quality, though we've observed elevated amounts of wind noise on the highway. Handling around turns is secure, but overall, the latest Outlander isn't quite as sporty as its predecessors. If off-pavement driving is a priority, the Outlander has a leg up on many competitors in this price range, as its all-wheel-drive system offers selectable modes that provide a bit more capability on dirt roads and in deep snow.