The Mitsubishi Outlander is a car-based sport utility. We found the Outlander runs smooth and quiet, and feels rock steady at highway speeds. Similar in size and character to the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4, the Outlander has four doors and a roomy cargo area that's easily accessible. Like other small crossover sport utilities, the Mitsubishi Outlander offers elevated seating for better visibility.
The 2005 Mitsubishi Outlander is available with a five-speed manual transmission and four-wheel disc brakes, which improve fuel efficiency and performance for those few American buyers who still wish to shift for themselves. Thus equipped, the base Outlander LS is the quickest of three models. However, most Outlanders come with an automatic transmission.
Outlander is neither tall nor tippy and its compact size helps it negotiate the often-hostile asphalt jungle. All-wheel drive is available for improved traction and handling stability on snow and ice or gravel.
Taut and toned, the Mitsubishi styling is bolder and more aggressive than that of other small SUVs. Aggressive pricing makes the Outlander an alternative to the big name brands.
A new Limited model is available for 2005 that comes with heated leather seats, front side-impact airbags, heated outside mirrors, and body-colored fender flares and air dams.
Mitsubishi Outlander presents a bolder appearance than the other sport utilities in its class. Mitsubishi says styling is very important to its customers, so it wanted its entry-level SUV to be distinguished from the RAV4, CR-V and Forester with a muscular, masculine, aggressive appearance.
A wide nose section splits the grille and flows back over the hood. The aggressive look is enhanced by large, tinted headlight covers and fog lamps mounted at the edges of the bumper on the XLS and Limited models. Gray cladding on the bumpers and side sills adds to the aggressive appearance, and the 16-inch wheels lend substance to the Outlander XLS's stance. The Limited features handsome body-colored cladding.
The aerodynamic design minimizes excess noise going down the road. Mitsubishi Outlander presents a wind-cheating, wedgy profile that provides an 0.43 coefficient of drag, making it more slippery than the CR-V, RAV4, or Forester. Its standard rear spoiler and the optional roof rack with tubular rails give it a substantial appearance. Getting in is aided by well-designed door handles that are easy to grab.
The Mitsubishi Outlander offers a roomy and comfortable interior, a benefit of its long wheelbase. Getting in and out is easy. You neither have to climb up nor stoop down to get inside. The Outlander's h-point, what engineers call the distance your hips sit off the ground when you are sitting in the vehicle, was designed to offer easy entry. Once seated, you have a commanding vantage similar to that in a minivan. Once in, there's a good amount of headroom for taller drivers.
The seats use high-density foam padding and the standard cloth is nice. The driver's seat offers height adjustment and effective lumbar support. The available leather seats feel a little firmer than the cloth. The passenger seat and the back seat are comfortable and the vehicle feels confident, making it a good place to spend the miles.
We found all controls easy to operate. The instrument panel features an analog clock in the middle of a large, titanium-texture dashboard trim panel. The clock is easy to set and has a black face in the LS model and a white face in the XLS version. Instrumentation includes a large speedometer and tachometer. The XLS comes with lightface gauges, which we find much easier to read; besides, they match better with the titanium. At night the gauges glow with orange lettering on black faces; the clock looks a little incongrous with its orange on white. Heating and air conditioning controls are plain and simple, easy to operate. A variety of storage pockets is available. Rubber retainer bands hold things securely in the lighted glove box.
The rear seat is designed with additional lumbar support. It's split 60/40. There's no need to remove the headrests before folding the rear seats, which reveals an extended, though not perfectly flat, cargo area. There is 24.4 cubic feet of cargo room behind the rear seats, and 60.3 cubic feet with the seats folded down. The rear seat has three headrests and three sets of shoulder belts. It also has a fold-down center armrest with two cup holders.
A single rear liftgate makes getting into the cargo area easy. A thin, divided storage area beneath the cargo floor cover offers some convenient storage, and the cargo area includes grocery bag hooks and a 12-volt power outlet. The cargo floor is about 30 inches off the ground to ease loading and unloading. A rear cargo cover is available for the Outlander to hide valuables. Mitsubishi cleverly designed a place under the cargo floor to stash the cargo cover. Other SUVs don't provide a place to store the cargo cover (other than your garage), so it takes up space and is subject to damage when removed to load cargo.
The Mitsubishi Outlander is smooth, quiet and comfortable. Outlander's long wheelbase and carlike suspension work together to provide a comfortable ride. There is little road or wind noise. The primary sound that can be heard is wind noise from the large side mirrors, and we would not want to give up the nice, big mirrors as they afford an excellent view rearward.
This Mitsubishi isn't as smooth as the Honda and some road vibration can be felt through the steering wheel. Two-wheel-drive Outlanders feel smoother and peppier than four-wheel-drive models and work quite well for zipping along on big-city freeways.
One of the first things we noticed about the Outlander is that it feels very stable at high speeds. To us, it felt more stable than a Honda CR-V In crosswinds and at higher speeds. The Outlander's 103.3-inch wheelbase (the distance between front and rear tires) is longer than that of the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, and Subaru Forester.
Outlander leans in corners, but handles well. Steering is on the slow side and there's a small amount of play, but it's easy to steer smoothly, providing a nice, comfortable ride for your passengers. This is an easy vehicle to drive.
Braking is accomplished with four-wheel disc brakes. ABS is optional and our Outlander didn't have it. We found it stopped promptly and stopped calmly and quickly in a panic stop. It's easy to modulate the brakes to prevent wheel lockup. We recommend getting ABS, however, as it allows the driver to brake and steer at the same time in an emergency stopping situation.
Outlander is no rocket, but it's square in the middle of the pack of compact, car-based SUVs. Mitsubishi's 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine is rated at 160 horsepower, matching the output of the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4. Mitsubishi tuned the Outlander's engine to deliver the bulk of its torque at lower engine speeds. Part of the credit for being able to do this goes to Mitsubishi's MIVEC electronic variable-valve setup, which helps the engine to operate at peak power and efficiency throughout the rev range. Even with its boost in power, the engine is rated by the EPA at 22/28 miles per gallon City/Highway in a two-wheel-drive Outlander with the new five-speed manual transmission.
The four-speed automatic transmission has a Sportronic manual shift feature. Shift into Drive and it works like a regular automatic transmission; or the driver can slide the shifter to one side to select gears manually.
The Outlander is built on a rigid unibody chassis and benefits from Mitsubishi's extensive experience in international rallies and raids. The Outlander benefits from such body-strengthening techniques as MASH seam welding and what Mitsubishi calls its RISE design (Reinforced Impact Safety Evolution). Much of this technology was developed from the company's winning efforts in the Paris-Dakar raid as well as its involvement in the World Rally Championship with the Lancer Evo.
Mitsubishi Outlander equals its competitors in powertrain competence and efficiency. It's smooth and quiet. It feels stable at high speeds and handles well on winding roads. Its diminutive proportions make it easy to park and maneuver in tight, busy places. Outlander makes a strong styling statement in the compact sport utility class. Available all-wheel drive adds capability and safety in wet or winter weather, but the two-wheel-drive model feels more agile and is a little more enjoyable to drive. Outlander offers carlike handling with roominess and versatility.
New Car Test Drive correspondent Larry Edsall is based in Phoenix. NCTD.com editor Mitch McCullough contributed to this review.
Build and price your dream Mitsubishi Outlander in just a few easy steps.
|Build & Price|
2014 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport$20,999 | 3,489 mi
2014 Mitsubishi Outlander$22,999 | 9,300 mi
2014 Mitsubishi Outlander$26,000 | 9,976 mi
2013 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport$17,991 | 11,705 mi
2013 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport$19,999 | 34,194 mi
2013 Mitsubishi Outlander$21,932 | 32,637 mi
2013 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport$21,999 | 9,087 mi
2013 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport$22,999 | 31,014 mi
2013 Mitsubishi Outlander$24,781 | 4,217 mi
2012 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport$19,552 | 32,330 mi
2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport$14,991 | 97,465 mi
2007 Mitsubishi Outlander$10,963 | 107,158 mi
2007 Mitsubishi Outlander$12,991 | 100,078 mi
2005 Mitsubishi Outlander$8,995 | 95,044 mi
2004 Mitsubishi Outlander$8,095 | 109,994 mi
2003 Mitsubishi Outlander$8,537 | 68,620 mi