Actual rating will vary with options, driving conditions, habits and vehicle condition.
The standard features of the Mitsubishi Outlander ES include 2.4L I-4 166hp engine, 2-speed CVT transmission with overdrive, 4-wheel anti-lock brakes (ABS), side seat mounted airbags, curtain 1st and 2nd row overhead airbags, driver knee airbag, airbag occupancy sensor, automatic air conditioning, 18" aluminum wheels, cruise control, ABS and driveline traction control, electronic stability.
Starting at: $23,495
|ES||$23,495||166-hp 2.4L 4-cyl||continuously variable auto||25 / 30|
|SE||$24,495||166-hp 2.4L 4-cyl||continuously variable auto||25 / 30|
|ES||$24,995||166-hp 2.4L 4-cyl||continuously variable auto||24 / 29|
|SEL||$25,495||166-hp 2.4L 4-cyl||continuously variable auto||25 / 30|
|SE||$26,495||166-hp 2.4L 4-cyl||continuously variable auto||24 / 29|
|SEL||$27,495||166-hp 2.4L 4-cyl||continuously variable auto||24 / 29|
|GT||$31,695||224-hp 3.0L 6-cyl||6-spd auto||20 / 27|
The Outlander isn’t designed to be sporty or engaging to drive, and it isn’t; it’s just easy and comfortable. It’s quite soft and detached from the road, but well-mannered. It’s a confidence-inspiring, driver-friendly crossover. But it’s still underpowered with the 2.4-liter, 166-horsepower engine, and the CVT is too slow to respond. It follows a logic that holds some ratios while accelerating, it’s indecisive on long grades, and barely adequate for this seven-passenger vehicle weighing 3500 pounds.
This transmission was updated in 2016. Its total ratio span is 7:1, as opposed to 6:1 in the previous unit, which means that it has a lower ratio for better standing-start launches, as well as reduced revs in highway cruising. Mitsubishi has worked on making this unit more responsive and quicker to adjust the ratio when passing, and the CVT aims to reduce some of the motorboating feel that comes with many CVTs by holding onto ratios for a short time during acceleration. The net effect is that it while it seems at ease and effective in level, lower-speed use, it hunts around quite a bit on hills.
Outlander GT models use a V6 making 224 horsepower; it’s considerably thirstier and needs premium fuel. To add to the disappointment, it doesn’t develop that much torque until you rev it. At least the paddle-shifters and 6-speed automatic enliven the driving a bit.
With either engine and all-wheel drive, there’s an Eco Mode button that uses only front-wheel drive until there’s actual slip at the front wheels. The mode also softens throttle response and uses the air conditioning compressor more conservatively.
For the 2016 changes, Mitsubishi worked to improve the ride and handling, by reinforcing the front suspension crossmember, changing the spring rates, and tuning the shocks to match. The electric power steering is precise and rather firm, and perhaps a little too aggressively centered.
The Outlander has more off-road ability than most other cars in its class. It’s worth noting Mitsubishi Motors was once a leader in rallying and in Paris-Dakar raids across the desert. Outlander’s AWD and suspension are fully up to the task of heading up most rugged gravel roads or two-tracks on the way to a trailhead.
The available all-wheel drive in the ES is basic, with 2WD, 4WD, and Lock modes (the latter a locking center differential). All-wheel-drive SE and SEL models use a more advanced system; the GT comes standard with it. It uses an electronically controlled center coupling, combined with an open rear differential. This system also has a separate active front differential to help get the right torque split for the conditions, which helps power through some exceptional conditions, like when one wheel is on ice.
Outlander styling sits somewhere between generic and awkward. Mitsubishi says the Outlander’s Dynamic Shield styling is derived from the look of the bumper-side protection that’s been put on generations of the Montero SUV. That design is highlighted by chrome trim with a shape that some say looks like fangs. Mitsubishi says that the Outlander doesn’t have a bad angle, but we’d say the front end is it.
Other bits of chrome trim are found on the sides and at the back, where the trim’s shape echoes the front grille. The look is not as sporty as the design of the 2014 and 2015 models, but the profile works very well.
The cabin is highly functional but not harmonious. The low instrument panel is simple; some might think it’s too plain, while others might think it refreshingly straightforward. There aren’t a lot of buttons, and the layout and trims are spare. It’s at once understated, modest, warm, and accommodating.
The interior materials are as good as those in competitors like Jeep Cherokee and Ford Escape. The roomy cabin is also one of the quietest in this class.
The front seats are supportive with lower cushions just long enough for tall people, and the driving position is great. Unlike many crossovers in this class, the second row doesn’t feel flat and hard, and it’s comfortable enough for adults.
The second-row seats fold in a three-step process: Flip the headrests forward, lift the lower cushion and place it against the rear of the front seat, and flip the seatbacks forward. You can’t slide the second row fore and aft, as you can with some other three-row models.
Both the second and third rows fold perfectly flat, creating a very useful cargo floor with a low load height. There are small side boxes just aft of the wheelwells, plus a small under-floor storage compartment that can hide a laptop.
It will take a kid to reach the third row, and once back there, even pre-teens might be looking at their knees.
The Mitsubishi Outlander provides functional family appeal for a reasonable price, but the powertrains are weak, the third-row seat space is tiny, and the infotainment features are behind the times.
Sam Moses contributed to this report.
The 2017 Mitsubishi Outlander comes in ES, SE, and SEL models, and the V6 GT, with front- or all-wheel drive. (Prices are MSRP and do not include destination charge.)
Outlander ES ($23,495) comes standard with cloth upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, remote keyless entry, cruise control, steering-wheel audio controls, Bluetooth, six-speaker 140-watt audio system, 60/40-split folding second-row seats, 50/50-split third-row seats, power locks, windows, and mirrors; under-floor rear storage, rain-sensing wipers, leather-wrapped steering-wheel and shift knob, three 12-volt power outlets, USB port, 6.1-inch touchscreen HD radio, rearview camera, and 18-inch alloy wheels. Outlander ES AWC ($24,995) comes with all-wheel drive.
Outlander SE ($24,495) adds satellite radio, Apple Car Play, and Android Auto. It also comes with fog lamps, heated seats, and high-contrast instruments. Outlander SE S-AWC ($26,495) gets the upgraded all-wheel-drive.
Outlander SEL ($25,495) upgrades with leather seating surfaces, remote power liftgate, and Rockford Fosgate Audio with satellite radio. The SEL also gets a power driver’s seat, power-folding mirrors, roof rails, gloss-black interior trim, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and a universal garage door opener. Outlander SEL S-AWC ($27,495) gets all-wheel drive.
Outlander GT 3.0 S-AWC ($31,695) gets the V6, the 710-watt, nine-speaker Rockford Fosgate audio system, the heated steering wheel, automatic LED headlights, LED fog lights. The GT Touring package adds the multi-view camera system, forward collision warning with emergency braking and pedestrian detection, lane-departure warnings, and adaptive cruise control.
Options include a rear-seat DVD player, remote engine starting, and additional cargo solutions.
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