Mitsubishi’s Outlander crossover is a vehicle that often slips under shoppers’ radar because the brand seems to have a low profile.
The Outlander is more like a small station wagon than an SUV, but that’s OK because most SUVs are driven and used as if they were wagons. The Outlander is one of the few compacts to have a flat-folding third-row seat, but it is small and best used only by children. That has an appeal for families who need more than two rows of seats, even if only for short jaunts.
The 2014 redesign included a simplified front end that aids aerodynamics but lacks personality. The drag coefficient of 0.33 is similar to many sedans, thanks in large measure to the nose, and that in turn helps fuel economy. The 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine is rated at 24 miles per gallon in the city and 29 on the highway.
The 2014 model weighs about 200 pounds less than the previous model due to more high-tensile steel.
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The Outlander is available in front-wheel or all-wheel drive. The ES and SE models use a four-cylinder engine, and the Outlander GT has a 3.0-liter V-6. The four-cylinder engine is paired with a -continuously variable transmission, and the V-6 gets a six-speed automatic. Base prices start at $22,995 and top out at $33,895. I drove an all-wheel-drive SE with the touring package.
The four-cylinder engine feels rather anemic when mated to the CVT transmission. I often wished for more power when accelerating into freeway traffic. The Eco mode improves fuel economy but further reduces engine power on acceleration and cuts down on the air-conditioner’s airflow.
There are four driving modes on cars equipped with the push-button-activated and electronically controlled all-wheel drive (Mitsubishi calls it Super All-Wheel Control, or S-AWC): AWC Eco, Normal, Snow and Lock. Lock provides maximum traction. In Eco mode the vehicle stays in front-wheel drive until road conditions or weather cause sensors to activate all-wheel drive.
The Outlander’s interior has been given a makeover that includes a “soft-touch instrument panel, premium surfaces and high-grade materials,” according to Mitsubishi. The test car had wood grain trim on the doors and instrument panel to brighten up the cabin.
Wind and road noise have been reduced through the use of additional sound insulation.
MacPherson struts are used at the front of the vehicle while the rear has a multi-link set-up. The rear suspension has been improved through the use of low-friction axle seals smoother bushings. The ride is fairly smooth and reasonably well controlled.
The test car’s base price was $25,795. The touring package included navigation, wood grain trim, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, forward collision mitigation, leather seats, sunroof, power remote tailgate, Rockford Fosgate premium audio with Sirius satellite radio. The sticker price was $32,720.
Five years and 60,000 miles, with a 10-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty.
Tom Strongman’s e-mail is email@example.com
2014 Mitsubishi Outlander SE S-AWC
Engine: 2.4-liter, 166-horsepower four-cylinder
Transmission: Continuously variable, all-wheel drive
Wheelbase: 105.1 inches
Curb weight: 3,461 pounds
Base price: $25,795
As driven: $32,720
MPG rating: 24 in the city, 29 on the highway
At A Glance
Point: The redesigned Outlander gets good fuel mileage, has three-row seating and is available with all-wheel drive.
Counterpoint: Negatives include lackluster acceleration, a very small third seat and styling that borders on being bland.