2016 Mitsubishi Outlander 2.4 SEL 2WDPosted on February 4th, 2016
Three-row crossover focused on value and versatility
By Nina Russin
The 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander won the 2016 best value ALV of the Year award because its versatile interior and high level of standard convenience features including three rows of seating, rearview camera, leather upholstery, heated front seats and Bluetooth interface make it a lot of car for the money. The Outlander’s relatively small footprint gives it an edge over other seven-passenger cars among buyers who need the seating capacity but don’t want a full-size truck with poor gas mileage.
Base price for the front-wheel drive SEL with standard 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine and continuously variable automatic transmission is $24,995, excluding the $850 destination charge. A touring option package adds forward collision mitigation, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, automatic headlamps, rain sensing windshield wipers, power sunroof and mirrors, Rockford/Fosgate premium audio system and satellite radio to the test car, bringing the final MSRP to $31,095.
Test drive in Phoenix
I drove the Outlander on a 100-mile loop through the foothills of the Superstition Mountains east of Phoenix, Arizona. Having driven the car on area surface streets and highways, I wanted to see how well the four-cylinder engine would handle some elevation gain, and test the Outlander’s steering and suspension on the decreasing radius turns and pitchy hills that characterize the Bush Highway.
Most noticeable entering the new Outlander is the improvement Mitsubishi has made on interior fit and finish. With a heritage that dates back to the off-road Monteros, Mitsubishi has for years had a reputation for well-built engines that could withstand the rigors of off-road racing. But as the company re-entered the consumer market after its post-2008 hiatus, the car interiors were Spartan and unattractive.
The new Outlander is a significant move up the ladder, utilizing nicer materials and better overall construction. Small but significant changes to the exterior design give the car more presence in a crowd, so buyers no longer need to worry about driving a plain vanilla box on wheels.
The 2.4-liter engine doesn’t have an overabundance of power, but it doesn’t feel anemic either. I had no problems accelerating in the 20-50 mile-per-hour range drivers use on highway entrance ramps or passing slower cars once on the highway. Heading north out of Phoenix on the Beeline Highway, the Outlander handled 1500 feet of elevation gain with ease.
Due to its small engine size, the four-cylinder Outlander is not a good choice for towing. Mitsubishi rates the car’s towing capacity at 1500 pounds: acceptable for a very small trailer but well below our 3500-pound ALV minimum standard.
The continuously variable automatic transmission modulates properly, with none of the rubber band feel that early versions of this technology suffered from. On-center response from the electric power steering system is somewhat soft, but the driver by no means feels disconnected from the wheels.
A 34.8-foot turning circle is exceptionally good for a vehicle of this size, making it easy to maneuver the car through crowded parking lots. The standard rearview camera enables drivers to see obstacles that may be lurking in back of the car when they shift into reverse.
The Outlander’s four-wheel independent suspension consists of MacPherson struts in front and a multi-link setup in the rear. The suspension does a good job of absorbing bumps in the road and rebounding from the types of dips that populate the two-lane road through the foothills of the Superstition Mountains.
Along with the improvements to interior design, engineers made significant strides in sound deadening. By adding acoustic materials throughout the body, a thicker rear door glass and dynamic dampers on the front and rear suspension, product planners produced a much quieter interior that makes it easier for occupants to converse.
The optional touring package is worth the investment for urbanites who plan to commute in the car. It includes a host of active safety features: forward collision mitigation, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, automatic headlamp control and rain sensing windshield wipers among them.
The Mitsubishi Outlander is unique among midsize crossovers in offering seven-passenger seating. While there isn’t an overabundance of room in the third row, it will hold two extra children when the family heads out to the weekly soccer game. Both second and third-row seats fold flat to extend the cargo floor for bicycles and other large cargo.
The optional power sunroof on the test car brings an abundance of ambient light into the interior.
I found the driver’s seat easy to adjust for a clear forward view, but lacking in lower lumbar support. A tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel enables small drivers to maintain a safe distance from the front airbag. Steering wheel audio controls reduce driver distraction.
Both the center stack screen and gauge cluster are easy to read in bright sunlight and after dark.
The Mitsubishi Outlander comes with front, side and side curtain and driver’s knee airbags, hill start assist, antilock brakes, traction control, stability control and tire pressure monitoring.
The 2016 Outlander is on display at Mitsubishi dealerships nationwide.
Like: A versatile, well-built midsize crossover with seating for seven passengers and a high level of standard convenience features. With the upscale SEL grade priced below $25,000, the newest Outlander is a lot of car for the money.
Dislike: Driver’s seat lacks adequate lower lumbar support.
Model: Outlander SEL
Base price: $24,995
As tested: 31,095
Horsepower: 166 Hp @ 6000 rpm
Torque: 162 lbs.-ft. @ 4200 rpm
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: Yes
Fuel economy: 25/31 mpg city/highway2016, Best Value 2016, Active Lifestyle Vehicles, auto review, Mitsubishi, performance, pricing, standard safety