The Mitsubishi Outlander continues to bring up the rear volume for the compact SUV segment. If you don't want to see yourself coming and going in a Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4, the Outlander does offers up an alternative with a fuel-sipping four-cylinder or a lively V-6. Seating can be configured to fit five or seven people.
Dressed in the ES or SE trims, the Outlander comes equipped with a four-cylinder engine rated at 168 horsepower, while the 3.0-liter V-6 produces 230 ponies. The smaller engine of the two is paired to a continuously variable transmission, while the V-6 is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Sixteen-inch wheels are the norm for the ES but 18-inch wheels roll along with all other trims.
A split tailgate that's robust enough to hold 440 pounds is a crowd pleaser, along with Mitsu's 10 year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty. With Bluetooth phone and audio capability the Outlander deserves a look, but so does the competition.
Body style: SUV
Engines: 2.4-liter inline-4, 3.0-liter V-6
Transmissions: six-speed automatic, continuously variable transmission
Models: ES FWD, ES AWC, SE FWD, SE AWC, XLS FWD, XLS AWC, GT S-AWC
The Outlander remains unchanged for the 2012 model year after receiving minor tweaks to better fuel economy and features in the cabin last year.
The base ES model offers 16-inch wheels, roof rails, and not much more. The SE tacks on 18-inch alloy wheels, mirrors with integrated turn-signal lights, and fog lights. The Premium package, which includes a sunroof, can also be added to the SE. If you decide to go with four-wheel-drive heated mirrors are randomly thrown in for good measure. The XLS carves a path at night with xenon headlights, rain-sensing wipers, and chrome accents. The GT offers all of the aforementioned features. Both the XLS and GT models are eligible for a rearview camera that comes with the navigation system.
While lower-quality plastics inhabit the interior as a whole the Outlander's cabin is acceptable. The XLS and GT posses the best interiors of all with a soft-touch instrument panel going hand-in-hand with a door trim that is the same. Double stitch accents top of the interior that may surprise many. One drawback is that the steering wheel doesn't telescope but it does tilt, still it may be an issue for taller drivers. A third-row of seating comes in the SE model but one look at the competition's offering will make you cringe at the Outlander's version. A handy flip-down gate can hold up to 440 pounds.
Performance & Handling
A 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine rated for 168 horsepower and 167 pound-feet of torque while ES and SE models are available with front- or all-wheel drive, which Mitsubishi dubs All Wheel Control, or AWC. The all-wheel-drive system offers different modes to boost traction in varying conditions below the tires. The XLS and GT are front-wheel drive only and are the recipients of an even bigger 3.0-liter V-6 engine good for 230 horsepower and 215 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic gearbox is mated to the six-cylinder engine while four-cylinder variants are paired with a continuously variable transmission. Both come with a manual-shift capability.
Standard safety features include anti-lock brakes, stability and traction control, whiplash front head restraints, and front-seat full-length side curtain airbags. Hill start assist can only be found on the top-tier GT model. The Insurance Institute of Highway safety handed the Outlander a score of "Good" on both front and side impact tests, the highest score attainable from 2007-2011. Ratings for the 2012 model are not yet available.
EPA Fuel Economy
ES FWD, SE (FWD): 23 mpg city/28 mpg highway
ES AWC, SE (AWC): 19 mpg city/26 mpg highway
XLS (FWD): 22 mpg city/27 mpg highway
XLS AWC, GT S-AWC: 19 mpg city/25 mpg highway
- Paddle shifters
- Smooth V-6
You Won't Like
- Weak four cylinder
Cramped third row
Buttonless audio system
More sport than crossover and that's not a bad thing
If You Like This Vehicle
- Chevrolet Equinox
- Dodge Journey
- Hyundai Santa Fe
- Kia Sorento
- Toyota RAV4