It may be obvious to state these days, but crossovers are the breadwinners for automakers.
Engine: 2.4-liter four-cylinder
Power: 166 hp and 162 lb-ft of torque
Fuel Economy (MPG): 24 city, 29 highway, 26 combined
Fuel Economy (L/100 km): 9.8 city, 8.1 highway, 9.0 combined
Price (USD): Starts at $24,390, $32,090 as tested
Price (CAD): Starts at $28,525, $35,425 as tested
This makes it no surprise that automakers have been bolstering their crossover offerings, and Mitsubishi is no different. While the past decade saw the automaker struggle to stay relevant with consumers, especially in North America, its new crossover-centric lineup may catch some eyes, starting with its family-friendly offering, the 2017 Mitsubishi Outlander.
Versatile is the best way to describe the Outlander. It may not look like a huge departure from past models, but this crossover will appeal to families in a number of ways.
Versatile in All Ways
For starters, the Outlander can be had with a four- or six-cylinder engine, front- or all-wheel drive, two or three rows of seating and a CVT or six-speed automatic transmission. Of course, there’s some nuance there: four-cylinder models are exclusively paired to CVTs while V6 models are all-wheel drive and mated to a six-speed automatic.
Our tester sported three rows of seats, a 2.4-liter four-cylinder, the continuously variable transmission and all-wheel drive. That combination means the motor puts out 166 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque, and is good for 24 mpg (9.8 L/100 km) in the city, 29 mpg (8.1 L/100 km) on the highway, and 26 mpg (9.0 L/100 km) combined. If you opt for a front-wheel-drive Outlander, you’ll see a 1 mpg improvement across the board. But if you opt for the V6 model, you’ll see an average of 23 mpg (10.4 L/100 km).
On the Road
I was expecting the all-wheel-drive four-cylinder model to be sluggish and a bore to drive, because on paper, that looks like a dull powerplant that seems poorly suited for crossover duty. But in the real world, I found it to be quite responsive, even a bit jumpy off the line. It takes a while to get to used to, but underway, the car is just fine for everyday commuting duties.
It’s those commuting duties that the Outlander is made for, and it handles that way, too. It’s comfortable and easy to pilot, with good sightlines to see its surroundings. I actually quite enjoyed the weight of the steering, which, while light, helped me feel more confident with the crossover in tighter spots around the city. In particular, the suspension setup in the Outlander is worth mentioning, as it seems to strike a good balance of feedback and comfort. It never felt too stiff, but wasn’t overly floaty either. Taking an onramp doesn’t result in a lot of unexpected body roll and the car is well composed on expansion joints, too. Thanks in part to a few under-the-skin modifications last year that improve chassis rigidity, the 2017 Outlander is a well-behaved partner on the road.
An important element of the Outlander we tested is the AWC system. An acronym meaning all-wheel control, this means that all four of the wheels are powered. Using a button by the gear selector, you can switch the all-wheel drive mode from AWD Lock and AWD Auto, giving drivers a bit more control when they know they will be hitting slippery stuff like snow.
Inside, the Outlander features a clean cabin. You’ll immediately notice that the car features few buttons and has a well laid out dashboard. In the middle of it all is a new infotainment system that’s bright and easy to use. Below that are a few buttons for the HVAC controls, and an ECO Mode that helps keep fuel consumption down by smoothing your throttle inputs.
Accenting the glossy black plastic trim on the dashboard is some wood-like plastic trim that helps give off a slightly more premium vibe. Helping the Outlander’s case are the available features, like heated seats and steering wheel and dual-zone climate control. There are also several driver assistance features available on the Outlander like blind spot assist and a multi-camera system that’s helpful for parking. Sure the materials aren’t super premium and the layout can be called drab, but the available features help the Outlander feel a bit more premium. The switchgear is also pretty high quality and satisfying to use, not squishy or vague feeling.
Space in the Outlander isn’t a significant issue. With 128.2 cubic feet of passenger volume, there’s much more space in the Mitsubishi than other compact crossover rivals like the Nissan Rogue and Honda CR-V. The car has so much wiggle room, it’s creeping up into mid-size crossover territory like the Kia Sorento (which has over 146 cubic feet of volume). That much passenger volume leads to lots of cargo room as well, as the Outlander is able to pack whatever you want as long as it doesn’t exceed 63.3 cubic feet. That’s quite a bit and I put that to the test by transporting a corner-shaped office desk in the Mitsubishi. Granted, the desk was unassembled, but the Outlander did the job very easily. There’s also a handy 12-volt outlet in the cargo area. Another note to mention is that due to the accommodating suspension of the crossover, the desk didn’t slide around very much while I hauled it across town.
Exterior and Price
In terms of exterior design, the Outlander is flashy, with a big chrome grille, a slick shark-fin style antenna, and the car also shows off its premium pretensions with stylish two-tone 18-inch wheels and LED lighting signature. Size wise, the Outlander is larger than a Honda CR-V, but smaller than a Dodge Journey. It’s about the same length as a Nissan Rogue, meaning it’s small and easy to place in garages and parking spots.
It’s a sharp looking car, and looks bigger than it drives, but is priced aggressively. A base ES model starts at $24,390 including destination in the U.S., or $28,525 including freight and PDI in Canada. Adding AWC bumps up the price by $1,500 ($2,000 in Canada). Our tester was a Canadian-spec ES AWC model with a few added extras. It came to $35,425 in Canada, while a similar model in the U.S. would be the SEL S-AWC model, which comes to $32,090. For reference, a fully loaded, all-wheel drive V6 Outlander would set you back $34,090 in the U.S. or $39,825 CDN.
The Verdict: 2017 Mitsubishi Outlander Review
Bringing up the pricing of the Outlander is an important element. It’s not a terribly expensive crossover, and comes with the added element of a long warranty. All new Mitsubishis come with a 10-year/100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty, which is a huge deal for anyone worried about the longevity of their new vehicle. Then there’s the fact that the Outlander can be had with a V6 or four-cylinder, front- or all-wheel drive and up to seven passengers, and the Mitsubishi is a very versatile vehicle that should appeal to any compact crossover buyer.