Mitsubishi Outlander Review

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
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mitsubishi outlander review

CUV’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.

Thankfully, 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.

Clearly, 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.

More 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?

Nope. 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.

The 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.

Sajeev Mehta
Sajeev Mehta

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  • Alpha94 Alpha94 on Oct 15, 2007

    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.

  • Macca Macca on Oct 23, 2007

    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 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.

  • 285exp If the conversion to EVs was really so vital to solve an existential climate change crisis, it wouldn’t matter whether they were built by US union workers or where the batteries and battery materials came from.
  • El scotto Another EBPosky, "EVs are Stoopid, prove to me water freezes at 0 degrees Celsius" article.It was never explained if the rural schools own the buses or if the school bus routes are contracted out. If the bus routes are contracted out, will Carpenter or Bluebird offer an electric school bus? Flexmatt never stated the range of brand-unspecified school bus. Will the min-mart be open at the end of the 179-mile drive? No cell coverage? Why doesn't the bus driver have an emergency sat phone?Two more problems Mr. Musk could solve.
  • RICK Long time Cadillac admirer with 89 Fleetwood Brougham deElegance and 93 Brougham, always liked Eldorado until downsized after 76. Those were the days. Sad to see what now wears Cadillac name.
  • Carsofchaos Bike lanes are in use what maybe 10 to 12 hours a day? The other periods of the day they aren't in use whatsoever. A bike can carry one person and a vehicle can carry multiple people. It's very simple math to figure out that a bike lane in no way shape or form will handle more people than cars will.The bigger issue is double parked delivery vehicles. They are often double parked and taking up lanes because there are cars parked on the curb. You combine that with a bike lane and pedestrians Crossing wherever they feel like it and it's a recipe for disaster. I think if we could just go back to two lanes of traffic things would flow much better. I started coming to the city in 2003 before a lot of these bike lanes were implemented and the traffic is definitely much worse now than it was back then. Sadly at this point I don't really think there is a solution but I can guarantee that congestion pricing will not fix this problem.
  • Charles When I lived in Los Angeles I saw a 9-5 a few times and instanly admired the sweeping low slug aerodynamic jet tech influenced lines and all that beautiful glass. The car was very different from what I expected from a Saab even though the 900 Turbo was nice. A casual lady friend had a Saab Sonnet, never drove or rode in it but nonetheless chilled my enthusiasm and I eventually forgot about Saabs. In the following years I have had seven Mercedes's, three or four Jaguars even two Daimlers both the 250 V-8 and the massive and powerful Majestic Major. Daily drivers of a brand new 300ZX 2+2 and Lincolns, plus a few diesel trucks. Having moved to my big farm in central New York, trucks and SUV's are the standard, even though I have a Mercedes S500 in one of my barns. Due to circumstances with my Ford Explorer and needing a second driver I found the 2006 9-5 locally. Very little surface rust, none undercarriage, original owner, garage kept, wife driver and all the original literature and a ton of paid receipts and history. The car just turned 200,000 miles and I love it. Feels new like I'm back in my Nissan 300ZX with a lot more European class and ready power with the awesome turbo. So fun to drive, the smooth power and torque is incredible! Great price paid to justify going through the car and giving her everything she needs, i.e., new tires, battery, all shocks, struts, control arms, timing chain and rust removable to come, plus more. The problem now is I want to restore it and likely put it in my concrete barn and only drive in good weather. As to the writer, Alex Dykes, I take great exception calling the 9-5 Saab "ugly," finding myself looking back at her beauty and uniqueness. Moreover, I get new looks from others not quite recognizing, like the days out west with my more expensive European cars. There are Saabs eclipsing 300K rourinely and one at a million miles and I believe one car with 500K on the original engine. So clearly, this is a keeper, in love already with my SportCombi. I want to be in that elite club.