Through the first six months of 2013, the Toyota RAV4 outsold the Mitsubishi Outlander by a ratio of nearly 20 to 1. To be fair, the 2013 Outlander was the same second-generation model that has been on the market since 2007, while the RAV4 was all-new for 2013. For the 2014 model year, the Outlander gets a complete redesign, but will the makeover put it in closer competition to the RAV4?
What the Mitsubishi Outlander Gets Right
The new Outlander includes an outstanding array of upscale standard and optional interior features throughout its three trim levels, such as available leather upholstery and a nine-speaker Rockford Fosgate sound system. High-tech safety features include adaptive cruise control, collision warning/mitigation and lane-departure warning systems, all on an optional basis.
Outlander buyers have a choice of two engines linked to trim levels. The base ES and the SE levels come equipped with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder and the top-level GT trim gets a 3-liter V6. Estimated fuel economy figures are above average for the segment.
What the Toyota RAV4 Gets Right
Toyota’s redesign of the RAV4 for 2013 gave it bolder styling and modernized not only the interior but also the rear gate by switching to a top-hinged version and tucking the spare tire under the cargo floor. This makes loading and unloading cargo and critters easier and safer.
The RAV4’s cargo area is among the largest in the small crossover SUV class, maxing out at 73 cubic feet behind the front seats and maintaining a generous 38 cubic feet behind the rear seats. Those rear seats fold down for a flat cargo floor and lower loading height than other crossovers.
Can the New Outlander Close the Gap with the RAV4?
We think the odds are overwhelmingly against the Outlander. Although its redesign added features that look good on paper and may perform well in the real world, the RAV4 has a long head start and years of popularity behind it. Buyers trust Toyota to deliver a reliable product and many small SUV buyers put that quality at the top of their list.
Our Verdict: Toyota RAV4
While the RAV4 lacks some of the high-end technology and upscale convenience features of the Outlander, its solid reputation for reliability and long service count for more in the long run.