Attractive new styling, more powerful and efficient engines and some top-notch creature comforts, define the 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander, a crossover sport utility vehicle that seats seven.
The third-generation Outlander has some "ground-breaking safety features for its class" says Mitsubishi -- and we agree. It is also the only SUV at its price-point in its segment with standard three-row seating. Starting at $22,995, the Outlander gets improved aerodynamics and better sound insulation; high-end technologies that include adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning and a crash-mitigation system.
The Outlander has undergone a complete redesign; every panel of sheet metal and glass is new and it's clear that Mitsubishi has done its homework. As the crossover SUV segment has continued to heat up and displace station wagons and minivans, there seems to be a race to the top of the crossover heap. The Outlander competes with the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, Kia Sorento and Hyundai Santa Fe.
The Outlander stands out visually in the crowd. Its front end is completely transformed from a block style to a smooth, almost futuristic shape. A big air dam sits below a streamlined grille as uniquely shaped halogen headlamps wrap gently toward the sides, which boast beefy wheel wells and broad shoulders.
The side sweeps back with sleek tailoring that keeps this family hauler from looking too bulky, while the rear is a clean, smooth curve with simple bulbs and lots of glass. All this nipping, tucking and sculpting has paid off richly in terms of aerodynamics: the vehicle has 7 percent less drag than the previous version, which brings added quietness and improved fuel economy with 31 mpg highway (base model).
Inside, the Outlander gets a makeover, as well. It's been gutted and remodeled to have the same sculpted and space look as the outside. It's also bigger, with more luggage space and fold-flat second and third-row seats that make for a cargo floor that's more than a foot longer than previous models. We found it easy to slip in and out of the first and second-row seats, with good ergonomics and good visibility.
Every seating area, from the driver's command center to the often-an-afterthought third row, has been redesigned for 2014, which has resulted in more comfort for everyone. It's fair to say the third row will be best appreciated for parcels, pets, or for riders that are onboard for short distances.
The 2014 Outlander is powered by a choice of two engines: a 2.4-liter inline-4-cylinder engine that is updated and makes 166 horsepower and 162 lb.-ft. of torque, or a 3.0-liter V-6 that delivers 224 horses and 215 lb.-ft. (the V-6 is available only on the highest end GT model). The standard 4-cylinder is mated to an improved Continuous Variable Transmission, while the bigger motor gets hitched to a 6-speed automatic that has also been reworked.
We drove the new Outlanders close to 200 miles in Oregon, motoring over a variety of roadways; we drove models with both engines and were impressed by the power of the smaller engine that was confidence-inspiring in passing, but has a bit of harsh noise at slower speeds, especially when motoring in a spirited fashion. We loved the paddle shifters on the V-6 model and found its transmission shifts with ease and precision when using the paddles.
Mitsubishi's special flavor of part-time, all-wheel drive is called Super All Wheel Control (S-AWC). This impressive and award-winning system grew out of Mitsubishi's renowned rally technologies and delivers some pretty impressive handling on rough turf. Our drive included an off-road track, which showed the Outlander's AWD prowess, responsive steering and good turning ratio. S-AWC also can be customized according to road conditions, which helps with fuel efficiency: four settings, ECO, Normal, Snow and Lock, let you choose how much power the two sets of tires need -- and therefore how much gas can be saved when only two wheels need the power.
Outlander has a more refined road presence with MacPherson front struts and a rear multi-link suspension. The ride is stiffer, and there's less noise and vibration makings its way into the cabin as a result.
strong>Outlander is available in four models: ES and SE with front wheel drive, SE S-AWC and GT S-AWC. Eco-minded drivers also can look forward to a hybrid model, already on sale in Japan and coming to the U.S. for 2014, according to Mitsubishi.
Copyright © 2013 Motor Matters
|Base price||$25,795 (as tested: $26,620)|
|Curb weight||3,274 lbs.|
|Epa mileage rating||24 mpg city, 29 mpg highway|
|Fuel capacity||16.6 gal.|
|Horsepower (net)||166 at 6000 rpm|
|Motor type||16-valve SOHC 4-cylinder|
|Overall length||183.3 in.|
|Torque (lb.-ft.)||162 at 4200 rpm|
|Vehicle type||7-passenger AWD compact CUV|
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