By on June 12, 2018

2018 Mitsubishi Outlander front quarter

2018 Mitsubishi Outlander 3.0 GT S-AWC

3.0-liter V6, SOHC (224 hp @ 6250 rpm, 215 lb-ft @ 3700 rpm)

Six-speed automatic transmission, all-wheel drive

20 city / 27 highway / 22 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

21.7 (observed mileage, MPG)

Base Price: $33,035 (USD)

As Tested: $34,160 (USD)

Prices include $940 freight charge.

Car enthusiasts love to argue about cars, and will debate generally anything related to the topic ad nauseum. My wife knows not to talk cars with me unless she’s prepared to engage in an multi-hour discussion with outlines, Powerpoints, and 8×10 glossy photos. Discussions like these have birthed countless internet forums and blogs, including the usually brilliant comment section here at TTAC.

A common topic: are there any truly BAD cars anymore? We may all hate various brands or models because of poor prior experiences, but it can generally be assumed that all cars sold new in the U.S. can at least perform the basic function of a car satisfactorily for roughly the length of the factory warranty.

*Does it move sentient bags of meat from one place to another without parts falling off? Then it qualifies as NOT BAD.

Through that lens, then, we can look at the 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander. It’s not a bad looking vehicle, and it certainly does what it’s supposed to. Broaden the view a bit, however, and it’s clear that there are few compelling reasons to buy Mitsubishi’s biggest crossover.

2018 Mitsubishi Outlander profile

Like I said, the Outlander looks good enough. It almost looks lithe compared to similarly sized crossovers that appear bulging and bloated. The strong line rising from the top of the front fender, along both doors, and intersecting with the taillamp gives definition to the profile view.

2018 Mitsubishi Outlander front

I’m not as big a fan of the front — and it’s one little detail that bothers me. Note the abundance of polished material on the upper grille, and on the vertical lines that flank the blacked-out lower grille. There is another metallic horizontal bit below, in the area of the air dam, but it’s not polished “chrome” like the rest of the nose — it’s a matte finish. While certainly a polished finish that low on the nose would quickly take a beating, the contrast is jarring.

2018 Mitsubishi Outlander rear

It drives well, after a fashion. The ride is controlled, and the suspension does a nice job of handling Ohio pavement imperfections. But the Outlander is held back by the drivetrain. 224 horsepower out of a 3.0-liter V6 was an impressive figure 25 years ago. Not anymore, when competitors can crank out nearly 300 horses. The V6 is thrashy and loud, with plenty of noise coming through to the cabin under acceleration.

Mercifully, Mitsubishi doesn’t saddle the V6 model with a CVT like the lesser four-cylinder trims, but the six-speed automatic doesn’t help the underpowered Outlander much — it’s slow to kick down for passing, and hunts between ratios when cruising on the interstate.

2018 Mitsubishi Outlander front seats 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander rear seats

The cabin shows evidence of cost cutting. The plastics used throughout are quite hard, and while that may be acceptable at the four-cylinder Outlander’s entry price point of around $23,000, this V6-equipped model is over ten thousand dollars more dear. In this price range, buyers expect a better material feel.

2018 Mitsubishi Outlander cargo area

The front and second row seats were comfortable enough for my usual four-passenger load. When unexpected circumstances required that I haul a couple of my daughter’s friends home from a school event, the shortest members of our party were relegated to the third row. That third row is incredibly tight on legroom — and when those seats are upright, the cargo space left is minimal. We resorted to putting bags on the laps of those poor third-row kids because we couldn’t fit them in back.

2018 Mitsubishi Outlander dashboard 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander gauges

One significant annoyance: the way the driver’s seat rocks back and forth on the mounts. My first instincts led me to assume my example was abused by other journalists, but when managing editor Tim Healey noticed the same issue in his test of the Outlander Sport, I stopped by my local Mitsubishi outlet, where a new Outlander in the lot exhibited the same funky behavior. It’s an odd feeling, and only reinforces the sensation of cheapness that permeates the cabin.

I’m likewise annoyed by the console real estate given to the S-AWC control button. Such a prominent placement makes one assume switching between various drive modes is a frequent thing. I’d think a location on the dash might be a bit more logical, possibly freeing up space for cupholders.

The seven-inch touchscreen looks quite simple, and works nicely. Standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay were welcome when the SiriusXM started to bore.

2018 Mitsubishi Outlander infotainment

Let me reiterate — the 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander is not a bad car. It may even be a perfect car for some families, considering the dual tendency of Mitsubishi to offer significant incentives matched with favorable credit or lease terms for less-than-perfect credit scores. Beyond that market, however, there are plenty of better alternatives with more room and better performance for similar money.

2018 Mitsubishi Outlander rear quarter

[Images: © 2018 Chris Tonn/TTAC]

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34 Comments on “2018 Mitsubishi Outlander 3.0 GT S-AWC Review – Not Bad*...”

  • avatar

    “Does it move sentient bags of meat from one place to another without parts falling off? Then it qualifies as NOT BAD.”

    By that definition, when did the last “bad car” exist? Even well-known crap buckets like the Caliber, Windstar, and E65 could make it 50k miles without losing the fenders.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    I thought that the first generation was relatively handsome. It looked like what it was, a raised wagon.

    In Canada, I find that Mitsubishi does not offer any pricing advantage. At least for someone in my ‘credit’ bracket. Other manufacturers, such as Hyundai/Kia, Nissan and GM generally offer better financing rates and the Mitsu MSRP is comparable to the same segment offerings from all the mainstream manufacturers, except perhaps Honda/Toyota.

  • avatar

    Yet another toaster-on-wheels entering the crossover fray, immediately lost in the white noise.

    At some point the crossover market will get saturated with too many choices. The incentives required to move the metal off the lots will eat away at profits, and the smaller/weaker players will exit.

  • avatar

    Somehow I am amused by the “GT S-AWC” nomenclature, like it’s an Acura SH-AWD or something more exotic than it is.

  • avatar

    Well, the Mitsu AWC system is very good, as is the warranty, it is a little pricey though. I don’t see too many of these. You can’t swing a dead cat without hitting an Outlander Sport though, those sell well in this economically depressed, snow covered, frozen hell hole that they call a city. It’ll be interesting to see if the Eclipse Cross can make headway into this market come winter. BTW, if I had Alan Parsons on my stereo I might ram a bridge abutment just to stop the searing pain in my ears.

  • avatar

    So if you live near a Mitsubishi dealer, and he has a good reputation, and you have to have AWD and an occasional use 3rd row and you can get a good deal on the out-the-door price… You could do worse than this?

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      If it’s reliable and someone wants CUV practicality and a feature set at a low price it’s probably not bad at all. I think it *all* hinges on reliability relative to the competition.

      • 0 avatar

        I was gently poking fun at Mr. Tonn’s non-endorsement, endorsement.

        Every time I see the 3-row Outlander I just end up thinking: “Dang Mitsubishi, why didn’t you just keep updating the Endeavor?”

        At least it was big enough to be 3 row.

  • avatar

    This or a Dodge Journey? Wow imagine those were your only two choices.

  • avatar

    My Aunt and two cousins each have a previous generation Outlander. My Aunt bought one, loved it, so her daughters did too. No complaints from any of them, it’s just a car. If the price is right, why not? Not like anything anyone else makes in this class is really any better, they are all beige kid haulers, just get the cheapest one that will do the job.

    • 0 avatar
      R Henry

      Why not?

      I kinda agree with you…as far as ordinary non-enthusiast drivers are concerned, these are “good enough.”

      However, Mitsu products suffer severe depreciation, fast. Since most people trade such things before they are worn out, at trade-in time, Mitsu owners will end up paying a premium for purchasing Mitsu compared to the other Japanese brands…and those other brands usually have better consumer ratings…and parts availability, dealer network, and overall quality.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    This vehicle is very old and the only selling point is the expected discount from MSRP. That’s no small matter I suppose, but I’m not sure how you are supposed to expand a car company this way.

    “The 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander. Your standards are low, but the prices are lower. See your local Mitsubishi dealer today”

    I want to applaud the continued use of a V6 in this segment, but it’s no quicker than a CVT CR-V and has NVH issues. So they managed to fail in both areas that normally set V6s apart. The 4-cylinder CVT base powertrain looks like real punishment.

    I like the 1995 vibe of the dashboard, though.

  • avatar

    Looks like those third row seats were custom made for Squidward.

  • avatar

    Stopped reading after “biggest crossover”

  • avatar
    R Henry

    Mitsu vehicles tend to depreciate pretty darn fast compared to their Japanese rivals. While you might save a few bucks on the front end, after 75K miles, your Outlander will be worth a pittance, and you will have spent more to drive it for 6 years than you would have for a really nice Highlander or Pilot.

  • avatar

    I had a 4 cylinder Outlander as a rental a few weeks ago. I picked it over a Nissan Rogue on the Avis lot.

    The general theme of competence with the Outlander is true. The V6 version is probably better but the CVT/2.4 wasn’t awful at moving the wife, kids and I from DC to Richmond about 50/50 mix of highway and backroads to avoid the worst of I-95 traffic. It wasn’t too comfortable but it wasn’t uncomfortable. Apple Car Play and automatic climate control were welcome surprises.

    It was acceptable and I doubt that the Rogue I passed over for the Mitsu would have been any better or worse.( I’ve had both a Nissan and a Mitsubishi.) Especially since the true transaction price would probably not be anywhere near the MSRP. Fully loaded V6 crossover, even if not an impressive V6 crossover, rings a lot of bells for those not enslaved (or not capable of buying) something from Honda, Toyota or even Hyunkia.

    • 0 avatar

      The Nissan Rogue is a little sh!t box with a gutless motor, cheap interior everything, and chassis rigidity roughly equivalent to lasagna.

      It’s on my list of “Burn After Renting” reviews.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        I recently drove a Nissan Rogue and a BMW X-1 back to back on weekend trips of over 700 kms to the same destination.

        The Rogue was quieter on the highway, had far more comfortable seats, a larger backseat and a much easier user interface. Got better mileage and used regular gas.

        The BMW was quicker. Used a higher grade of fuel.

        Interior was actually pretty much a ‘wash’. The BMW had some interior fake ‘wood’.

        If they were both equally priced, might be a debate. Based on out the door pricing I would lease the Rogue in a flash over the BMW.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    As real world pricing on a fully loaded Mitsu are mid 20s , it does have some advantages over competition. A low stress v6 and traditional 6sp auto, 8 inches or so of ground clearance a limted slip front diff.That and proven 3rd world tested Japanese reliability.

    Chris , how was the stereo? I’m curious of RF branded OEM sound quality? Crappy like Bose or pretty good like HK?

    • 0 avatar
      Chris Tonn

      Re: the stereo; the best I can give you is I have no complaints. I’m not an audiophile, however, as my ears aren’t trained to suss minute speaker quality differences.

      Unlike some other vehicles which utilize a touch screen, the Outlander did actually have a real volume knob, which was used liberally to drown out engine noise.

  • avatar

    I rented one of these and drove it for 8 days. I liked it. Reminded me of my 1988 Toyota Landcruiser, in a good way. If you can get a good deal on one of these I say go for it. OTOH if the price and warranty are no better than a Toyota, do what most the world does…

  • avatar

    “The front and second row seats were comfortable enough for my usual four-passenger load. When unexpected circumstances required that I haul a couple of my daughter’s friends home from a school event, the shortest members of our party were relegated to the third row. That third row is incredibly tight on legroom — and when those seats are upright, the cargo space left is minimal. We resorted to putting bags on the laps of those poor third-row kids because we couldn’t fit them in back.”

    Ah, so this is a THREE row suv/cuv that is actually worse at being a THREE row suv/cuv than the Mazda CX-9. Both need to be made longer to compete in the THREE row suv/cuv market LOL – or just give up and make them both roomy TWO row crossovers with adequate cargo room.

    If you are buying the roominess and utility of a THREE row mid-sized crossover – why on earth would you buy one that lacks enough room in the THIRD row to fit anything but small children and – in addition!! – ALSO lacks enough cargo space when you ACTUALLY use the third row?? Stupid I guess.

    • 0 avatar

      People want something that they’re not especially sure that they will ever use. Why do you think Lexus finally put a 3rd row in the RX? Because they were loosing sales to competitors who had 3rd rows no matter how tiny and lame those 3rd rows were.

      I most CUVs the 3rd row is like the one in a mid 80s Caprice Estate, when in use you have no cargo room save the roof rack. The big difference between then and now is that the 3rd row actually faces forward.

      • 0 avatar
        cimarron typeR

        I remember as a 10 year old riding in the rear most row of a Caprice wagon in the mid 80s when a wealthy friend of mine’s parent brought me as a tag along to Los Angeles , in the height of the freeway shooting scare.We pretty much did anything and everything to antagonize every other driver on the freeway just to freak out his mom.Good times.

      • 0 avatar

        …and that RX-L seems to have about as much usable third row as this Mitsu. That is, it’s there, in the sales brochure, ns you can fold it up and touch it, so you know that the zero times you ever need it, you have it.

  • avatar
    Jan Boula

    As an owner of 2016 model, I am putting my pros/cons:
    Pro: space: It is hard to find any car with more space in this price range.
    Fuel economy: 26mpg over past 10k miles Austin, TX traffic.
    Price: year old SE 2.4 model- from dealer with 15k miles bought for 17k full factory warranty included. Cannot beat that
    Warranty:one of the best in industry
    Safety: top in segment, even for passenger side

    handling: hate it. Overpowered. Drive any other car, like Mazda cx5, to feel the dofference
    Materials: first time you close the door, you think.. What the hell.. Touch any surface in a car, same thing

    I bought it just because it was the best for my $$. I am not excited about it, but does its job.

  • avatar

    The article does not mention that one version of this thing is the only plug-in hybrid suv, with 30 miles of battery range. I think the phev does not have the 3rd row seating. Nor does it have a spare tire. Did the non-hybrid have a spare?

    A poor purchase at MSRP, if anyone’s dumb enough to do that. But a great purchase as a used vehicle.

    Lots of these around Vancouver, but I’ve only seen one phev. Plenty in Europe, including the phev. An upgraded 2019 version of the phev is coming.

    I don’t get the front end styling. It’s as though they had to use styling element leftovers no one else wanted. But at least it has none of those ugly conflicting curvy creases on the sides.

  • avatar

    I am sure it will score better than its Ford counterpart in a crash test. I have sat in both a Outlander and Escape, and trust me the interior in the Outlander is far superior.

  • avatar

    How has Mitsubishi stayed in business in the U.S.? Their volume is so low. However, any company that made my Evo X deserves my undying gratitude.

  • avatar

    Don’t spend real life money on this, get something else. Even a base model AWD Highlander.

    You won’t have such steep depreciation, or be forced to put fuel into that thirsty and underpowered, rough V6.

    If you don’t need the seats get an Outback or Equinox or something. An Ascent Premium is same money as this as well.

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