A car manufacture tries to instill in his brand a certain look and feel to help distinguish that brand from many others in the market. The idea is to have a consumer instantly recognize that vehicle as being a part of the brand, even if they couldn’t see the badging on the car. This is a good thing to strive for as a company, but it also helps progress the design and style of cars over the world. Where these ides sometimes go awry is when a manufacture is so dedicated to it’s design that it crosses car design with SUV design, or truck design with car. Two big examples are the Porsche Cayenne and the first design of the Ford Fusion. In Porsche’s case, the Cayenne is made to look like a huge 911, and it’s never really worked. In Ford’s case, they tried implementing their trucks “three bar” grille design into a car. Although the Fusion isn’t a terribly ugly car, I would say that keeping a distinguished design like the one found in the new Focus is a better way to go.
Why am I going on about the design of cars versus SUV’s and Trucks? Because that’s exactly what Mitsubishi has done with the new Outlander. The Outlander is built on the platform of the Mitsubishi Lancer and shares a lot of design cues as well. The only thing is, I think Mitsubishi nailed it. I really like the design of this small SUV as it really stands out from the crowd and screams Mitsubishi. It doesn’t hurt that the Evo is such an iconic car for Mitsubishi, and having this SUV mimic it’s styling makes it that much better.
The front end is aggressive with a big gaping mouth and long hood. The headlights are HID Projector lamps that are styled to be sleek and aggressive matching those found on the Evo. Around the side are some slight wheel arches and more of an ordinary SUV profile. The rear windows have been sloped back giving a more stylish and aggressive looking stance. Around the back is more of the same with undoubtedly Mitsubishi styling cues and LED taillights which are angled down in a glaring fashion.
Our tester was the Outlander GT, which sits in the middle of Mitsubishi’s SUV lineup. The smaller Outlander Sport is styled even more aggressively.
Mitsubishi talks a lot about the sportiness and capabilities of the Outlander, even going as far as making the roof out of lightweight aluminium to keep the center of gravity low, and it works well as this 3-row SUV handles quite well. Being built on the Lancer chassis doesn’t hurt either.
Keeping the sportiness alive in the Outlander is it’s 3.0 V6. You can get the Outlander with a 2.4 liter 4 cylinder engine, which we didn’t get the chance to drive, but the fuel economy savings come at a big cost and that’s performance. I have a feeling that if you are looking at this aggressively styled SUV and thinking it’s the one for you, you’re going to want the 230 hp and 215 foot-pounds of torque offered by the V6. The numbers don’t really sound like much, but Mitsubishi did a great job translating those numbers into results. The Outlander GT feels surprisingly sporty when you really want it to be. Helping along here is the six-speed Sportronic transmission with metal paddle shifters for manual control. These are the same shifters found in the Evo; go figure.
More shared with the Evo is the Outlander’s Super All-Wheel Control (S-AWC) system that is one of the most advanced all-wheel-drive systems out there. It integrates standard all-wheel control with a dynamic front differential. It can also adjust the torque and braking force to each wheel for stability and control. You can choose from 3 driving modes; tarmac, snow, and lock. As we are in Texas and don’t see much snow, especially in August, we left the setting on tarmac mostly the entire time.
We hit a little bit of gravel roads in the Outlander and it held pretty well. Not as shockingly well as the Ralliart we drove with the same system, but not bad at all for a bigger SUV.
Sitting inside the Outlander reminded us of the Ralliart as well. Not for it’s racing style because there really wasn’t much, but for the materials and interior quality. The Ralliart was a small step forward from the Lancer with extra leather and trim and the same goes for the Outlander. The interior was fitted with leather seats that were comfortable enough, but not very sporty or supportive. The dash was pretty plain but had a little leather wrapping thrown in. All-in-all, the interior quality didn’t impress, but it’s a cheaper SUV, so it never really disappointed me too much either.
The second row had ample legroom and the bench was easily slid back and forth. Folding the seats down and getting them back up on the other hand was more of a chore. Accessing the 3rd row was about as pathetic as the 3rd row itself. The 3rd row isn’t as much a seat as a makeshift lawn chair like afterthought. It was covered in cloth, not the same leather as the other seats, and was as thin as a folding lawn chair. The thing is the kids still fit quite well and never complained once. As a matter of fact they liked it. Folding the seat up and down is a little more complicated or enduring than most. With it’s afterthought like design, the rear actually had a decent amount of room even with the third row in place. Obviously this isn’t a seat for adults, but if you have children and need the extra room, as I often do, then it’s actually a good design.
Our Outlander GT packed with features cost $32,275. For the quality of interior that you get, at first I thought that was way too much. Then I started realizing that for leather seats, navigation, power and heated seats, rear-view camera, and 3 rows that it’s really a good deal. This SUV reminds me mostly of the Suzuki XL-7, which is now out of production. It is an inexpensive 3 row SUV with nice styling and a sporty ride and not so flashy of an interior. If you don’t need the 3rd row and like the styling, look at the Oulander Sport. It’s base price is $28,495 and I had the chance to drive one of these and really liked the way it felt. If you are looking for a better 3rd row there is always the Endeavor to test drive as well with a base sticker price of $28,299.