By on April 18, 2007

2007_outlander_201.jpgCUV’s are nothing more than oversized station wagons on stilts. If you think about it– and not many American motorists have– CUV’s don’t work like a truck OR handle like a car. I wouldn't say they’re the worst of both worlds, but others have. In fact, the modern CUV may just be a marketing-driven gimmick designed to take one last shot at emigrating gas guzzlers before they get down from their perch and do something really sensible, like buy a car. No wonder Mitsubishi’s website says the Outlander doesn’t like labels any more than I do.

“Stylish” certainly fits. The Outlander's sheetmetal is sports sedan crisp with just enough static lines and ground clearance to assure the macho-minded that “Outlander” isn't the ancient Scottish term for “mall rat.” The CUV’s front end translates the usual SUV design cues into a host of smooth textures, understated lighting pods and clean surface transitions. The rear follows suit with ample glass, logical lines and an integral diffuser in its snazzy rear valence. It’s all very chi-chi.

2007_outlander_urban_162.jpgThankfully, the Triple-Diamond Boys left the SUV genre’s hose-it-down heritage outside the doors. The Outlander offers a symphony of touchy-feely polymers, panel gap precision and Audi-esque minimalism. Clock the way the Outlander’s beat box integrates into the dashboard’s horizontal sweep. Seamless. Even the nasty stuff– like the imitation aluminum trim surrounding the motorcycle-chic gauge cluster– looks cool. 

Tick the right boxes and the Outlander’s got the right box of tricks. The optional 650-watt Rockford Fosgate stereo (named after the Firebird Esprit-driving TV detective) has more than enough power to make your dental fillings shake and shiver. It’s a Sirius piece of kit. The sat nav system can store 1200 songs, keep track of your Bluetooth and guide you to your dentist. And you can order a drop-down DVD system to keep the kids amused.

2007_outlander_58.jpgClearly, Mitsubishi decided to go down the high content route for their latest foray into Crossover County. Even the base Outlander’s luxurious velour-trimmed body huggers are a welcome surprise at this price point, providing all-over comfort for humans both large and small. While the second row slides forward, there’s only one failsafe way to avoid Amnesty International’s condemnation of the Outlander’s “compact jump seats”: opt for the cheaper two row model.

The Outlander’s trick flap-fold tailgate is its party piece. The gate’s flush-fitting lower half unfolds from the bumper for slide and schlep Home Despots and/or doubles as a picnic table for pee-wee football tailgaters. On paper, the Outlander has a class average cargo hole. In real life, the model’s chunky-hunky D-pillar makes it possible to fit big ass square pegs into a moderately sized square hole. 

2007_outlander_60.jpgMore proof of the Outlander’s value-oriented proposition lies underhood. The MIVEC-tuned 3.0-liter V6 puts out a respectable 220hp and 204 lb-feet of twist (albeit high atop its powerband). Hooked-up to a standard six-speed autobox, there’s plenty of poke and reasonable fuel efficiency for city commuting (20mpg) and highway cruising (27mpg).

Hang on. Peep the strut tower brace under the hood and [optional] magnesium shift paddles. Could the Outlander’s Lancer underpinnings and available full-time four-wheel drive indicate that we’ve rocked-up in a family-friendly EVO in crossover guise?

2007_outlander_215.jpgNope. The Outlander’s powerplant has less low-end grunt than your grandmother's vintage Osterizer, while the steering is completely vague about the whole torque steer issue. Push it hard into a bend and the softly sprung dynamics serve up a major slathering of understeer on a supersized body roll. The 3500lb Outlander is tuned for touring duty and nothing more.

Much like the omnipresent road noise at highway speeds, the Outlander’s dynamic bits get old in a hurry. While Mitsubishi touts "rally inspired control and fun unheard of in a family vehicle," the rally involved must have been political and the fun in question has a lot more to do with scaring kids than thrilling adults. Any off-roading more ambitious than an unplowed driveway is equally off limits.

2007_outlander_39.jpgThe Mitsubishi's ride strikes an ideal balance between road feel and comfort. As long as you drive responsibly, the chassis will iron out irregularities and crush potholes. Motorsport heritage aside, it’s obvious Mitsubishi put a strut brace under the hood to avoid family fatigue during your next road trip.

In fact, the Outlander is a modern day station wagon, with all the stylistic charms, family friendly gadgets and timeless comfort that implies (“Mommy! He hit me!”). Its dash of panache, impressive standard features, trick tailgate and under 25 large asking price make the Outlander an attractive value proposition. That is, after you buy into the need for a tall station wagon.   

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50 Comments on “Mitsubishi Outlander Review...”


  • avatar
    shaker

    This vehicle seems to push all of the right buttons for its target market — Mitsu will have to tout its relative efficency to keep sales decent while gasoline nibbles away at "the tall boys".

  • avatar

    Finally, someone else who wasn’t impressed with the Outlander’s handling. Most reviews have praised said handling, and I can’t believe we drove the same vehicle.

    That said, I drove the base FWD torque steer special. An AWD XLS might do better, with its lower profile rubber. An XLS certainly looks better, as you note. The base version with its smaller steelies doesn’t look nearly as good.

    For price comparisons:

    http://www.truedelta.com/models/Outlander.php

  • avatar
    starlightmica

    Just the appearance of the Outlander’s “compact jump seats” is nauseating, can you add them to the article?

    Like the RAV4 & outgoing Highlander’s 3rd row, there’s no head curtain airbag coverage; they’re definitely an afterthought dictated by the marketers.

  • avatar
    craiggbear

    While I don't disagree that some CUVs, including the new Outlander, may be "station wagons on stilts", there are few alternative options out there. Many of us have progressed past the mini-van stage and abhor the idea of driving a "truck" (at least while my neck is out getting reddened) – so what else is there? I certainly don't want to go back to the days of the 1976 Chevrolet full size station wagons (that were true land yachts)so these car-based CUVs seem to have a purpose. If you are not a single person – who doesn't have a house (with yardwork)or kids or any manner of things that simply won't fit in a "trunk", these are the perfect alternative. As for the Outlander, good effort but…its price point is a bit high for the market it is chasing, I think. For space, the new Kia Rondo has more, with better options including leather for a lot less money. And a similar warranty. Why can't Mitsu think outside the box like the Koreans? (…being Japanese based, one would have thought…)

  • avatar

    starlightmica: The Outlander's jump seats were simply too hideous for words. Even in Darth Vader black, with the excruciating headrests outside the frame, the seats are… lamentable. Click here . Keep a sharp eye out: the rear seats disappear behind the text. If you can stand it, on the thumbnail menu, scroll to the right.

  • avatar
    jurisb

    mitsubishi has neglected halo cars for a long time, ther is still no 3000gt replacement( great gizmos, many for show off only, bad interior colours), there is no serious mitsubishi galant and a premium segment diamante . galant has cheap interior and is so much americanized, that it would be no-seller in europe. it can never go against acuras or lexuses or audis. also this outlander,has some cheapness touch inside. even hyundai has digital screens for A/C, while the one in outlander reminds some kia knobs. maybe not as cheap as in mazda6 ( gray plastic toys`r`us controls),still el cheepo. mitsubishi also doesn`t have pajero replacement yet, even though the improvements are significant. so we need an all -new rwd pajero( have a look at sands in dubai, where you run some 3-door rally nex-gen pajeros), we need a bit more serious-attitude galant, and an all new diamante with smartshift or mannual option, and for dessert a 3000gt replacement.and, awd eclipse for that matter…..

  • avatar
    AKM

    I’m so over the CUV?Crossover movement. It stopped being cool after 2 years of Nissan Murano, and more specifically when the Toyota 4-runner went back to “crossover” after having been an SUV.
    Only the Mazda CX-7 looks cool enough and seems to handle well enough, but even there, there’s not much it does than a mazda3 cannot do.

    “Sirius piece of kit”? How many cars with XM did you you test before you could write this? That was a good one.

  • avatar
    Claude Dickson

    CUVs make sense only in comparison to the SUVs they are steadily displacing. But at the end of the day CUVs are still to heavy, have a needlessly high COG, often underpowered, and over-priced for what they offer. Their only saving grace is that they look “cooler” than a station wagon. Someone out there is going to introduce a good, mid-sized, well designed 5 door hatch and it will be a smashing success. When you get down to it, a CUV is nothing more than a macho sedan with the added utility of a rear hatch.

  • avatar
    BigChiefMuffin

    I just don’t get these things – Craigbear says that there are no alternatives if you have a family, but given that the last row of seats are useless, then surely any estate must make more sense.

    The extra weight and bulk of these monsters means that they do lousy mpg, they don’t handle, their high centre of gravity means that they are more likely to roll and their greater braking distances mean that they are more likely to crash. 90% of the users never drive them off road so what is the point ( and those that say they are safer because of the better visibility they provide don’t know how to drive – if you are so close to the car in front that you need that extra visibility then you should go back to driving school )

  • avatar

    AKM: The 4Runner remains an SUV, on a truck frame.

    The Outlanders third row seats don’t feel quite as bad as they look. Since I have three kids, I’d rather have them than not have them.

    The most impressive part of the vehicle could be the extremely low height of the load floor. This is what requires a section of the bumper to fold to form a small tailgate. I wouldn’t expect said bumper/tailgate to hold up well in a collision. Has IIHS tested this one?

  • avatar
    starlightmica

    RF -

    The Outlander’s headrests remind me of Fido Dido‘s head.

    Michael Karesh -

    Outlander has so far only had the front offset IIHS test.

  • avatar
    viamede

    The biggest downside of the Outlander is the cheap plastic on the interior, the doors especially and there is a LOT of plastic on those doors. I have yet to see one that isn’t already showing very visible scratches and that is just in the showroom. The drop down gate on the last one I looked at also had a deep gouge out of the plastic on the inside, which doesn’t bode well for using this as a load floor.

    The metal seems somewhat cheaply finishes under the hood with lots of sharp edges left exposed. The piece of aluminum flapping underneath to stop the muffler melting the spare tire is another bit of afterthought engineering. It would have been better to forget the beach chair in back and put the spare under the floor.

    Nice looking vehicle though and very comfortable and roomy in the first two rows.

  • avatar
    allythom

    My wife and I are currently looking for something bigger and (even) more practical to replace our beloved WRX wagon when our first child arrives in May. It needs to have a big enough back seat to hold a rear facing infant seat and have enough room to hold the grandparents on occasion, Half decent gas mileage and AWD would be good too (if somewhat mutually exclusive). The options are basically station wagons or CUVs (I have no time for sedans or large trucks) and while a minivan may be in our future when #2child hits the scene, that isn’t likely for a while yet. All the usual suspects have some serious compromises:

    Subaru Outback – very nice but the back seat is too small, it’s too thirsty and needs 91Octane gas (and I haven’t forgiven Subaru for dropping the Legacy GT Wagon)

    Hyundai Santa Fe – really nice interior, very quiet, but it weighs well over 4000lbs and also likes a drink.

    Toyota RAV4 V6 – Raging acceleration, somewhat decent mileage but has weird Toyota option packaging and a ho-hum interior

    We hadn’t considered the Outlander until we saw one at the NY autoshow. Having test driven one, it is well equipped, but horribly cheap inside, the door panels are awful and the dash is a Fisher Price special. The thing is also as slow as molasses and, by all accounts, none too frugal either. That 3rd row seat needs a degree in engineering to make it unfurl too.

    For us, the RAV 4 V6 LTD with 3rd row represents the best compromise, but it is a compromise. I will be ordering one this week.

  • avatar
    socsndaisy

    Sajeev, no spizzarkle?
    Couple things worth mentioning here: No mention of both the trick AWD selector or the aluminum roof section to reduce weight up top? At least give Mitsubishi SOME credit for the effort on that.
    The missus, while at the auto show, crossed it off the list due to the unusually difficult seat-folding mechanics (and they are a PIA). My only gripe is the played out plastiluminum treatment on the console and not quite bulletproof drivetrain.

    Regarding the CUV craze: this thing hauls more, tows more, actually has LESS ground clearance than, is less than three inches taller than, weighs within 200# of, and is a good bit cheaper to both buy AND run (no premium) than a turbo outback wagon.
    In all fairness, couldnt it be called “sensible” by comparison?

  • avatar
    William C Montgomery

    Enjoyable review (here comes the ‘but’…)

    But I can’t get on board with the Outlander’s exterior styling. In profile, it lacks proportion with its long pointy beak, heavy (fat) fenders and sagging rear end. I can tell that Mitsubishi designers are trying hard but they seem to have a tin ear for visual harmonics. It’s not cartoonish like the Montero Sport but I think the finished product, like nearly all current Mitsubishi’s, looks awkward, gawky, clumsy, gangly, inelegant, etc.

  • avatar
    William C Montgomery

    Yikes! I just looked at the photo of the 3rd row seat. It looks like Mitsubishi upholstered the bench with trunk liner.

  • avatar
    Seth

    I have had 07 mitsubishi outlander XLS for couple months now. I am not a mitsu type of guy but this vehicle is truly a good one. The only option that is not on mine is NAV with HardDiskDrive along with rear dvd player.

    Here is what works for me
    1. Redesign is very easy on the eyes in and out. Looks good and IMHO, way better than most of its competitors. A very cohesive design of both the exterior and interior (atleast my top of the line XLS)
    2. For not much more money than FWD midsize cars, you get more versatility and features
    3. AWD came real handy with freak winter snow storms. I am a believer now in 4wd. It also has 4WD Lock along with 4WD Auto feature. Auto 4wd sends 15 to 30% of power to rear wheels depending on accelerator pedal along with steep grades. Note that CR-V sends zero torque until slippage occurs. Lock feature sends 60% more than auto mode to rear wheels. A simple dial does the switch at any speed. I leave it in 4wd auto as it helps reduce stress on front wheels during brisk acceleration and turning.
    4. ASC (active skid and traction control) which was invisible also came to the rescue when I got too cocky and tried to change lanes on slippery roads (cutting power and balancing it out)
    5. ABS with EBD has come to aid several times already but what made it more effective where those 18 inch wheels with low profile tires. P225-55R18 goodyear eagle ls2 is a good choice even though oem tires are usually cheap.
    6. Leather seats are very useful with dog hair (my Labrador retriever sheds a lot) and look good IMO (black interior through out). Front Heated seats have heated seat backs as well. My wife really appreciates this.
    7. Rear seats are highly adjustable (fore and aft) and make the entry/exit to third row quite a snap (footwell lighting is a nice touch)
    8. Third row makes sure that this vehicle will meet all my potential future needs. I have inlaws/parents visiting and with one kid on the way in couple months and hopefully second one not too far in the future, its nice to know that you wont run out of seats in a pinch.
    9. Rear cargo area is good for all situations (luggage, doggie, heavy duty walmart shopping, stroller in near future etc). Third row is stowed for now.
    10. 650 watt stereo is good and steering wheel mounted controls along with 6 cd changer/mp3 are a bonus. I loaded 6 mp3 cds and have plenty of fun.
    11. Side curtain airbags on top of seat mounted side airbags standard.
    12. Sunroof reduces the claustrophobia.
    13. Rear flip down gate is good not only for tailgating but also for loading heavy stuff (sliding them in)
    14. FAST key which allows you to unlock the drivers door and start the engine without removing the key out of pocket. This is a lot more handy than it sounds. But one snag is that you cannot wear gloves while tugging at the door handle. Radio transmitter in keyfob kicks in and unlocks only driver side door. But if you tug at the rear tailgate, it unlocks all of the doors. Keep in mind that if you leave the area, vehicle wont lock itself.
    15. Odor absorbing headliner and aluminium roof for less weight.
    16. All aluminium alloy v6 engine with variable valve timing – Averaging around 23 mpg (11 ltr/100 km) and provides adequate 220 hp. Midrange acceleration is smooth.
    17. Six speed manumatic seems to find the right gear most of the time.
    18. Rear hatch swings up unlike Rav4.
    19. Precise steering and suspension geometry lets it track straight.
    20. Bluetooth interface is much more handy than I ever thought it would be.
    21. Magnesium paddle shifters sound gimmicky but in a downslope on ice/snow, you can use it to downshift in a hurry.

    Features present but not used
    1. Roof rack. Dont know what to do with it. I am not into skiing or biking. So no point in calling Thule guys.
    2. Cargo cover – I dont see any point to it.

    Nit picks include
    1. Sound insulation not upto my standards. Lets more noise in (relatively speaking ie)
    2. Suspension is a bit tight for my taste but I can see the safety point of view. I think tight suspension is a characteristic of XLS trim and I am not a very sporty type even though I drive very fast.
    3. No heated steering wheel. It gets really cold up here.
    4. Interest rate a bit rich for my blood but that is to be expected when a new model enters the market. But Mitsu dealer was very lenient with my trade-in. Gave me lot more money than what Honda dealer was willing to give. Resale value should be decent for this new model iteration. If not, then the high trade-in value will compensate for some of that.
    5. No Xenon lights for canadian XLS.

  • avatar
    unsprung weight

    I’m two months into Outlander XLS 2WD ownership and it’s been better than expected. CX-7 and X3 were the original front-runners, but Outlander’s keyless entry/start, Bluetooth, hard-drive music/nav, excellent audio system, “why not” third row and exceptional value were enough to get the lesser brand a shot. A couple of issues not touched on in the above review: 1) Highway ride is generally fine, but ROUGH highway upsets the Outlander more than it does similar vehicles. 2) Our Outlander (and others, if not all), has a throttle tip-in delay that you learn to account for to some degree, but there are some situations in which it’s quite frustrating. I understand there may be a chip fix coming for that. The takeaway for me has been that it’s really easy to think you’ve got the whole automotive landscape mapped out just the way you want it, but when time comes to throw down the money and you really put time into researching ALL the features and prices, a car’s appeal can change drastically. More so, I think, now that there are so many “little things” (keyless start, Bluetooth, etc.) that make a big difference.

  • avatar
    Alex Dykes

    The third row seats are not only nauseating to look at, but excruciating to sit in. This is the row you send bad children to, or in-laws that are overstaying their welcome. In some sort of warped logic, it does make sense to have them with the car, you never know when you may need to carry seven passengers, the trouble is deciding which two will ride in automotive purgatory.

  • avatar
    pfingst

    I just looked at the picture of the jump seats. Dear God! It looks like a double electric chair.

  • avatar
    fellswoop

    jurisb:
    also this outlander,has some cheapness touch inside. even hyundai has digital screens for A/C, while the one in outlander reminds some kia knobs. maybe not as cheap as in mazda6 ( gray plastic toys`r`us controls),still el cheepo.

    Is anyone else with me when I say I DO NOT WANT DIGITAL AC “BUTTONS”? This creeping “i-drive-ification” of everything inside modern vehicles seems as silly as the push-button transmissions of the 1950′s.

    It’s one more thing to break irrevocably (when in the used car market,) adds unnecessary weight and complexity, has no tactile feedback, can’t be used with winter gloves on, and is responsible for the fattening of our children (just seeing if you’re still reading..)

    PLUS: Anyone pining for a “heated steering wheel” needs to drop and give everyone 20. My goodness, if there was ever a sign of the decline of western civ, that would be it.

  • avatar
    craiggbear

    Bigchiefmuffin – I said there were FEW alternatives, not no alternatives. The thing I find about “Estates” is that they have either been at the really low end and small (i.e.,Ford Focus) so that the back seat is too cramped for grown-ups, or they are too high end (Audi AllRoad, BMW 5, Volvo XC70). And I do find the third row seat in most of these CUVs as useless – plus they encroach on the second row as well.

    At the same time, years ago we had a Volvo 740 Turbo Wagon with the 3rd row seat (Rearward facing) and it was strictly for emergencies. In fact, with the new safety standards, I doubt such a set-up would even be allowed these days. SO much for estates.

    The point is, I carry stuff, not people, most of the time. An Estate is too small and a mini-van is too big (and has bad karma these days) – so CUV seems to be the only choice short of a truck (SUV) – and the related fuel issues.

    Also, I would say not many CUV owners even think about off road for these things – although this point often comes up in review comments. AWD is quite handy in the snow belt and is a worthwhile option. In fact, most CUVs are promoted on their non-off road abilities – although the current Outlander ads seem to suggest otherwise. They could be missing the entire market by doing this.

  • avatar
    taxman100

    My wife test drove one of these, and she loved it. You are forgetting one thing about these so-called CUV’s – women absolutely love them precisely because they sit up higher, and are considered stylish, at least by other women.

    There is too much techo-wizardry on it for my tastes, but the base model is a possibility if they keep it under $20 k.

    Not my cup of tea, but seeing how my tastes are large body-on-frame sedans, and Ford won’t make the Mercury Colony Park anymore, you are kind of stuck with a crapwagon like this if the wife won’t drive a minivan.

  • avatar
    pfingst

    fellswoop:
    In Wisconsin in February, a heated steering wheel would be a truly wonderful thing. Or in May, for that matter.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    Sajeev, no spizzarkle?

    socsndaisy: Sorry, I wasn’t feelin’ it with this ride. I’d give it up for the grille on the Ford Edge, though. Shiny. :-)

    I think the finished product, like nearly all current Mitsubishi’s, looks awkward, gawky, clumsy, gangly, inelegant, etc.

    Bill: Except for the A-pillar and funky quarter window, I’d have to disagree with you. The Outlander is a nice looking CUV, way better than Mitsu’s efforts in other categories.

    Sound insulation not up to my standards. Lets more noise in (relatively speaking ie)

    Seth: kinda felt that too, but I heard more road noise at speed which could be the tire choice. Maybe. But I can see why you liked it overall, its a decent family hauler.

    My wife test drove one of these, and she loved it. You are forgetting one thing about these so-called CUV’s – women absolutely love them precisely because they sit up higher, and are considered stylish, at least by other women.

    taxman: your wife needs to show some love for the goodness that is the Panther. Just kidding…I think.

    But you’re right: it seems that CUVs have more appeal to women. Where men might scoff at the high center of gravity or lack of towing/burly engine, it seems to hit a middle ground that appeals to women. Visibility, smooth ride, plenty of space for people and most cargo…

    Oh, and before I’m labeled a sexist: that’s what I’ve seen when men/women look at new cars. There are plenty of people who don’t fit the stereotype, thankyouverymuch. :-)

  • avatar
    NICKNICK

    fellswoop:
    “Is anyone else with me when I say I DO NOT WANT DIGITAL AC “BUTTONS”?”

    YES. I have yet to find automatic climate control and rain-sensing wipers to suit me. Give me one knob that has pictures of my windshield, my face, and my feet; one knob that goes from 0 to 4 or 5, and one knob that goes from blue to red. I’ll take care of the rest.

    I’ll accept sliders, but I prefer knobs.

    I would much rather pay $25K for a simple car that is bullet proof than have one with all the latest gadgets (and associated future hassles)

  • avatar
    speedy4500

    I always chuckle when someone brings up the “Why do you need a CUV/SUV or AWD? Only 90% of people use it for off-road!”

    Hmmm… well, last time I checked, anything higher than 200hp engine was unnecessary (unless you’re towing). And how often do you use ABS or airbags? Do you always have all the seats occupied in your car? Here are some really ridiculous things found in cars: leather, sunroofs, navigation systems (just buy a map for $5, right?), heated steering wheel, keyless start. But you don’t see people railing against cars that have those things.

    My dad always said “It’s better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.” That one time a year where AWD or off-road capability might save you time, money, or even your life, I think is well worth it. And evidently millions of people agree by using their money to purchase a CUV/SUV. For a person or family who needs or can only afford one vehicle, the CUV genre offers them an option that will probably be able to handle nearly any situation they encounter.

  • avatar
    Luther

    For less compromises and a bit more money, check out the Saturn Outlook… OK… Ill drop and give everybody 20 and get back to work now.

  • avatar
    AKM

    “AKM: The 4Runner remains an SUV, on a truck frame.”

    Michael, I agree with you, but the Toyota marketing jocks don’t…

    5 door and a hatch? Let’s see…E-class wagon, all audi wagons, subaru legacy, dodge magnum. All those are great wagons for people who have 2 kids or less and carry lots of stuff. If you have 3+ kids, then yes, the SUV/CUV becomes a valid alternative to the dreaded minivan.

    As for the rest, this website has generally been a strong supporter of hot hatches (A3, GTI, Mazda3,…)
    I can’t wait to test-drive the Volvo C30 and the BMW 1-series 3 doors.

  • avatar
    Jim H

    AKM: Marketing jocks don’t have engineering degress or law degrees. :) Their website still advertises SUV…not sure if I’ve ever seen it advertised CUV, but I don’t watch commercials as much (darn TiVo!)

  • avatar
    blautens

    I think the Outlander looks okay – probably the best Mitsubishi in the current US lineup. In that light blue, it bears a slight resemblance to an RX330 – but the rear styling isn’t quite right for me.

    Stuff it with content, price it right, hard to argue with the effort. I would like to see Mitsu return as a serious contender in the US, and this vehicle may not get them there, but it’s a step in the right direction – if they square up their sedan offerings and de-porkify the Eclipse, shore up their reliability, they just might do it.

    P.S.
    I agree – digital AC is a drawback to me – yet almost unavoidable on some of our purchases. I will confess to having a fondness for variable speed fan control (why only 4 or 5 settings? It’s just a potentiometer, right? – make it like a volume control for that *just* right setting) and as of late, dual climate control – for the driver and passenger.

    But having to go through the NAV screen to get to it, or using a digital control…bah humbug.

    In South Florida, I want MAX COLD – now, without waiting for something to boot.

  • avatar
    Steve_S

    People have very strong opinions about CUV’s either for or against. I’ll argue “For” them. The modern CUV is what the SUV should have been. A large percentage of the population doesn’t need large towing capacity and gobs of torque. They want a car-like ride with more space than a wagon with the comfort of AWD for the occasional snowy or rainy conditions. Many CUV’s also look more attractive than wagons or minivans (Nissan Murano, Mazda CX7, Saturn Outlook, Infiniti FX, etc).

    Unless you are talking wagons of yore like the Caprice they just don’t compete with CUV’s. My families previous two vehicles where a Subaru Outback and a Nissan Murano. I had a great deal more space in my Murano than my wife did in her Outback. The back seat in the wagon is cramped and storage behind was reasonable. The back seat in the Murano was huge and the storage was a bit tighter. Even being shorter in length behind the rear seats I could fit more in my Murano’s hatch than in the Outback; seats down it was no contest.

    On to the Outlander; I was able to get in one at the local autoshow and found it to be quite nice. I liked the paddle shifter and trick tailgate. The 3rd row seats are a joke but there is the “well I’ll never need them but just in case I do they are there” line of thinking.

    If for some reason I needed to go back to a family vehicle I’d look at the Outlander and Mazda CX7, the Murano has just gotten too pricey for me and I don’t trust CVT transmissions. If the Dodge Magnum didn’t have a crappy interior design I might look at that as well (it’s a good sized wagon but not as much room as many CUV’s). Alas I can get away with not having the family hauler as the DD and am happy for it.

  • avatar
    vento97

    5. No Xenon lights for canadian XLS.

    The only thing Xenon lights accomplish is blinding the other driver coming in the opposite direction. If any driver has trouble seeing with halogen lights, they should either get their vision corrected or don’t drive at night…

  • avatar
    allythom

    AKM: 5door hatches. While I agree that the E Class wagon and all Audi Wagons (except the A3) are way more sensible than the CUVs on offer and all pretty wonderful, they are also quite a lot more expensive (the E class is around $50K) and the A4 wagons are a bit on the small side. The Legacy Wagon has gone away for 08 (in fact finding an 07 is difficult) leaving just the Outback. Dodge Magnum is great, but I have concerns about reliability and resale, the really interesting one with the 5.7 litre Hemi also has atrocious gas mileage of course.

    An ideal vehicle (for me) would be something like a Mazda5 with a bit more pep and optional AWD.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    Anyone ride in a Mondeo wagon in Europe? Space comparison between that and wagons/CUV’s here?

  • avatar
    levi

    “CUV’s are nothing more than oversized station wagons on stilts.”

    Seldom does a review/editorial offer such a comprehensive summation in the first sentence of the first paragraph. Thank-you, Sajeev.

    “In fact, the Outlander is a modern day station wagon…”.

    Last paragraph, first sentence. Again, Sajeev, thank-you for your cut-to-the-chase review of aforementioned station wagon.

    End of story.

    Honey, can you pass the salt? This meatloaf tastes a little bland….

  • avatar
    Seth

    Most station wagons have narrow width which means cramped rear seat. Subaru outback rear seat is short on legroom as well. You canot have two adults sit in comfort when you throw a car seat in between. Same goes for Passat wagon and mazda6 wagon. Volvo V70 is a solid contender but downsides include price and huge turning radius…note that I am not including ride height as a plus but YMMV. I am not sure if rear facing third row kids seat is still available in V70. Passat wagon is expensive too.

    Outlander and Rav4 are nice and compact. Outlander has 182 inches of length (one foot shorter than many sedans) and 71 inches width to accommodate parents/inlaws along with baby seat. Rear seats recline along with ability to slide back. Price wise, outlander has rav4 and crv beat but you get what you pay for.

    I am sure Rav4 is a tad bit refined and more powerful. cr-v is more fuel efficient. Also, resale wise rav4 and cr-v have outlander beat.

    However, for many folks, price of XLS outlander itself is a stretch and in canada, equivalent rav4 limited is full $6k more. Difference grows when you include interest charges and tax. I also noticed that mitsu dealers are more willing to give you a fair deal than HonYota dealers. You can negotiate (hard) and get a lot more for your trade-in, while knocking couple grand off MSRP. This puts outlander in the same league as camry v6 except you get all the benefits of awd wagon “on stilts”.

  • avatar

    Wonderful lede. I laughed out loud. And in general, I thought this was an excellent critique. But stylish??? That thing has about as much style as my washer and dryer. Maybe just a little bit more.

  • avatar
    davey49

    What I like about the CUVs and SUVs is that the load height is closer to waist level for me than a foot lower for most wagons.
    Right now the only people who don’t want CUVs or SUVs are people who would want the 3000GT back.
    What a seriously crappy car that was.
    I remember sitting in the rear seats of a ’65 Country Squire when I was 8. The Outlander 3rd row would’ve been fine.

  • avatar

    agreed on the digital HVAC thing. even with the relatively climatronic or whatever on my old GTI, I always ended up having to take my eyes off the road and look at the little thing to try and see how many bars it was showing or whatever. on my m coupe, I just reach over and grab a knob by feel.

    not to ramble, but you know, years ago in the synthesizer world people threw out their old analogs with a gazillion knobs and replaced them with whizzy digital things with three buttons and an lcd. 15 years later they realized the knobs were a much better UI and brought back knobs controlling whizzy digital stuff under the hood. maybe the next generation of cars will have all that obnoxious wizardry but it will just be hooked up to a knob that says FUN on one side and SAFE on the other. or WARM/COLD. or COMMUTE/TRACK.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    I want you to think about all the independent car manufactuers that compete in the middle to lower ends of the market.

    Toyota
    Honda
    Nissan
    Kia
    Hyundai
    GM
    Ford
    Chrysler
    Suzuki
    Mitsubishi

    Out of all those manufactuers, Suzuki and Mitsubishi are the most expendable.

    Neither one has a single vehicle that leads the class in… well… anything.

    The only area where Mitsubishi has any hope of enduring is in the rental fleet market. The same goes for Suzuki.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    Mitsubishi is the Isuzu of the mainstream market. If they left the North American market, I doubt there would be many people who would miss them.

    Hmmm… who would miss Mitsubishi?

    Folks who hope, just once, for a Mitsubishi Eclipse that is as fun to drive as the early 90′s generation.

    Deadbeats who are looking for just one more opportunity for zero dollars, with zero down until the next calendar year.

    That GM robot from the Super Bowl who is now employed by Hertz as a ‘checkout manager’. Hey, the Galant’s kinda reminds me of a Picasso meets Roboto combination.

    Mitsubishi died about five years ago from a combination of bad financial management and excessive blandness. What we’re seeing now is little more than a footnote before the fade into obscurity.

    Does anyone here actually know that Mitsubishi makes a pickup truck?

  • avatar
    CarShark

    Steven Lang:

    Yeah, they do. That Dakota rebadge. According to the chart Geotpf provided on Frank W’s latest editorial, there’s a 128 day supply of the things. Shocking.

    That’s not all. The Outlander’s big brother, the Endeavor, has a fat $4000 factory rebate.

  • avatar
    jurisb

    to those who are digital A/C phobic. the issue with digital screens and buttons for a/c is that those bulky knobs on previous generation cars looked really alien. they didn`t match in any paragraph to the stereo system above.the stereo system needs to be blended into ac, still be easy to digest and operate.and when you can regulate temperatures for driver and passenger seperately, makes it pleasant and value-wise. you see, gadgetry gives impression of value, of price. and of course it`s more complex, because there are motors that actuate valve positions for each mode, while a knob has a long screw directly connected to the main valve.look how nicely look a/c controls in buick lucerne, with nice buttons with chrome rims and a digital screen amidst. ditto the otlook, big SUvs etc.. serious companies have always stressed their top-dog versions with digital screens. for example mitsubishi 3000gt, in cheaper non-turbo versions it had shift knobs, while the turbo beast had nicely laid out digital screen with buttons. gizmos in cars are not always for usage( how many times have you used power mirrors?), but they represent the image of value and priciness of the car. so it is a hook on which many customers get caught.and it`s a nice one. ditto the chrome accents. if the door from inside has a black plastic handle or a chromed one, it doesn`t have any difference in usage, still it gives the impression of detailing and attitude. the times, when you could just stamp a colourless emblem within a steering whhel soft plastic, is gone. today you Must put a seperate emblem! what for? again- the image of value…….

  • avatar
    Jim H

    vento97: The only thing Xenon lights accomplish is blinding the other driver coming in the opposite direction. If any driver has trouble seeing with halogen lights, they should either get their vision corrected or don’t drive at night…
    Actually, Xeon lights cut through fog better, they pick up the eyes of a deer or other widelife much better, and they have a 25-50% increase in visibility. Now the hundreds of jacked up trucks with their ultra-bright fog lights…those do nothing but blind people…and there’s NO FOG!

  • avatar
    Seth

    Second tier automakers from land of rising sun seem to be rising again. Big 2.5 sold their stakes in them and simultaneously, their product portfolios have been improving.

    Mitsu has new lancer coming up and has a decent presence worldwide. Not all manufacturers are successful every where but mitsu does sell in just about every country. That in itself is impressive.

    Their product portfolio has many good cars. New delica minivan looks butch and “i” microcar has been very successful. Outlander itself is being a hit in many countries. So much so that it outsold rav4 and cr-v in japan for few months and okazaki plant was brought online when mizushima couldnt meet the demand. Their triton pickup which was developed inhouse and has no relation to raider/dakota is an honest pickup. Pajero is also doing well. This speaks well for mitsu in the future.

    If only they can get NA operations in order. Until then they will be niche players like Subaru, Suzuki and ahem VW.

    Speaking of sube and co, I think they all have good backing from banks and conglomerates. Fuji heavy industries, Mitsu heavy industries and Mitsu bank have huge assets and companies that are very diversified.

    On a side note, Check out the following links if you got time on your hand
    http://www.mitsubishi-motors.tv/outlander.html
    http://www.mitsubishi-motors.tv/

  • avatar
    AKILEZ

    I saw the Outlander and it’s not very tall compared to other SUV out there. I just scratching my head why Mitsu decided to make an SUV again when the gas prices here in the States are getting expensive. I can’t complain at all w/o the outlander my 2008 Mitsu Lancer will not even stop on regular breaks. Tinstalling the breaks from the Outlander into the Lancer really helped me stop a very fast car(Lancer). Just wait when the Lancer Evolution X comes out on 2010. We will be saying goodbye to Tuners and the car I wanted to beat the Subaru WRX STi(on the race rack).

  • avatar
    AKILEZ

    Funny the Outlander is really a short, compared to other suv or cuv out there. The height is really pretty cool because if you turn the outlander on a sharp curve it might not flip over.

  • avatar
    alpha94

    I just test drove this vehicle on the weekend and was pretty happy with it. Wasn’t as sporty as I expected it to be but I was pretty happy with everything else. The harddrive based navigation system and music server sold me.

    What I don’t understand is why people who do not own small SUV’s hate them so much. I live in Canada and from the snow and ice on the roads and from driving cars with RWD for many years I can say I would never go back to owning a car and never go without 4WD ever again.

    I have driven 16 hours through a blizzard from Toronto to Northwestern Ontario in my 05 Escape and I can safely say that it was a peice of cake to driving it in a car. I have no doubt this Outlander will make a great replacement for my Escape.

  • avatar
    Macca

    Steve_S put it well:

    “People have very strong opinions about CUV’s either for or against. I’ll argue “For” them. The modern CUV is what the SUV should have been. A large percentage of the population doesn’t need large towing capacity and gobs of torque. They want a car-like ride with more space than a wagon with the comfort of AWD for the occasional snowy or rainy conditions. Many CUV’s also look more attractive than wagons or minivans (Nissan Murano, Mazda CX7, Saturn Outlook, Infiniti FX, etc).”

    That pretty much describes me. I recently bought my first house…my wife and I both have small sedans, and they just don’t cut it when it comes to cargo space. Trucks guzzle far too much gas to make one my daily driver, and compact trucks with 4-cylinder engines just don’t cut it in size or driveability.

    So what’s left? A small SUV that gets decent gas mileage and has ample power to either carry a big load or tow a trailer.

    Every car review site with comments brings out all the haters waiting to pounce with their snarky comments…but I think most people need to drive this thing before they make up their mind.

    -Too much plastic inside? Have you been in any new cars lately? Ol’ Rav4 has plenty o’ plastic as well. The interior seems nice enough.

    -Not enough power? 220 hp seems adequate to me.

    -Lowsy performance? Mitsu claims an 8 sec. run to 60 mph, which is probably pushing it, but still, since when is ~8.5 sec. too slow for everyday driving? What were these folks doing 20 years ago when “sports” cars took 10+ sec. to 60?

    -Gas mileage? 2WD is rated at 20/27 and 4WD 19/26. Browsing forums, it is apparent that many folks are getting well into the mid-20′s MPG in semi-urban driving. That’s impressive if you ask me. The converse is true for the Rav4…real world MPG seems to be less than EPA ratings for many owners. 6-cyl “compact” (midsize) trucks get V8 gas mileage…not cool if you ask me.

    -Road noise? In comparison to what? Lexus RX? Sure, it’s got some noise, but again I’ll ask, what did these people think of cars 10+ years ago? From test drives the interior seemed quite serene for a CUV…definitely quieter than most sedans from a few years back. I sure hope these folks didn’t enter an economy car a decade ago – they’d think they were in the Cave of the Winds.

    I’m strongly considering purchasing an Outlander XLS after the first of the year, and after test driving it, my opinion has only gotten stronger. It’s got ample power, impressive real-world MPG reported by owners, and an impressive feature set for the price. Sure, people who don’t own a house or have never bought an item that didn’t fit in their truck don’t understand – but this thing is really the best of both worlds for me as a daily driver. And I happen to think the styling is great – it looks contemporary and upscale, without screaming “I’m a baby SUV!!!” like the Rav4 or “my neighbors think it’s an Acura!!!” like the CR-V.

    But I guess there’ll always be haters and folks who want to criticize every vehicle out there, as if only the car they’d choose to drive is sensible. Believe it or not, there’s a large group of folks out there who see the CUV as a viable alternative to larger, gas-guzzling haulers. To me, it seems the logical choice.


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