2017 Mitsubishi Outlander 2.4 SEL AWCPosted on January 5th, 2017
Compact crossover maintains value focus
By Nina Russin
With the average transaction price for new cars approaching $35,000, it’s easy to lose focus on value. But in a post-2008 economy, buyers are approaching big purchases, including automobiles, more conservatively.
Mitsubishi has made a value focus the lynchpin of its comeback strategy and it’s working. Athletes picked the restyled 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander to win the ALV of the Year award for Best Value, responding to its all-wheel drive capabilities, good fuel economy, five-star NHTSA crash test rating and extensive roster of convenience features.
The 2017 model is essentially carryover from last year. The Outlander is one of the few compact crossovers on the market to hold up to seven passengers. Third-row seats are rather small, but give growing families the ability to carry a couple of neighbor kids to weekly soccer practice. Fold the seats flat and a spacious cargo bay can carry a couple of road bikes, protecting them from inclement weather or theft.
The test car is the upscale SEL grade priced from $27,495 excluding the $895 destination charge. Power comes from a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine and continuously variable automatic transmission. All-wheel drive gives the Outlander four-season capability.
A touring option package adds a multi-view camera that displays both a rear and overhead view when the driver shifts into reverse, forward collision mitigation, blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams and a Rockford Fosgate premium audio system. Final MSRP is $32,390.
Test drive in Southern Arizona
Over the past week I drove the Outlander south of town through sections of the Gila River Indian Community and the area southwest of the San Tan Mountains, as well as surface streets and highways in Phoenix’s east valley. The Outlander isn’t a perfect car, but its imperfections are relatively minor and easy to live with. Most important, it’s a well equipped vehicle that’s versatile enough for buyers with active lifestyles at a price that won’t break the bank.
Mitsubishi has long had a reputation for building good engines and the 2.4-liter block in the Outlander is no exception. It has remarkably good power for a small-displacement block, developing 162 pound-feet of peak torque at mid throttle. Because of the engine’s small size, we don’t recommend towing.
The continuously variable automatic transmission is well tuned to the block. Together, they deliver good acceleration off the line and in the 20-to-50 mile-per-hour range drivers use merging into high-speed traffic. The engine can feel slightly anemic on the top end, but I had no problems passing slower vehicles on the highway.
Fuel economy during the test drive was on par with EPA 26 mpg estimates. Drivers can stretch gas mileage by engaging an Eco function using a control on the dashboard.
A standard rearview camera eliminates rather large blind spots created by the car’s thick D-pillars and smallish rear window. The touring option package is well worth its $4000 price tag, adding blind spot monitoring that makes it much easier to weave through rush-hour traffic. LED headlamps project bright beams of light after dark that are close to daylight with minimal battery drain.
The lane departure warning system is a bit sensitive, chiming when the driver signals when stopped at a light with two left turn lanes. The good news is that it’s easy to turn off using a control on the instrument panel.
A four-wheel independent suspension consists of MacPherson struts up front and multi-link setup in the back, with stabilizing bars to keep the chassis flat while cornering. Ride comfort is difficult to evaluate in Phoenix since most of the roads out here are glassy smooth, but the car did feel quite comfortable.
Electric power steering provides plenty of assist for low-speed maneuverability with a pleasantly heavy feel at speed. On-center response is on the soft side, but drivers should experience good control. Four-wheel disc brakes stop the car in firm, linear fashion.
Engineers did a good job of minimizing wind and engine noise intrusion to the interior. I noticed some tire noise on the freeway, but it was not excessive.
Well equipped interior
Mitsubishi has significantly raised fit and finish quality inside its cars. The Outlander’s spacious interior includes features such as Apple CarPlay, satellite radio, USB and 12-volt ports that today’s tech-savvy buyers demand.
Standard keyless entry and start saves the driver from fumbling for the key fob after dark. I found the power driver’s seat easy to adjust for a clear forward view. There is no separate lower lumbar adjustment, but the basic seat design provides decent lower back support.
Both second and third-row seats can fold flat to create a cargo bay large enough to carry bicycles and camping equipment. There’s a small storage area under the cargo floor for keeping items away from prying eyes and standard roof rails to add a rack or carrier up top.
The Mitsubishi Outlander comes with seven airbags, hill start assist, antilock brakes, traction control, stability control and tire pressure monitoring.
A fully transferrable ten-year/100,000-mile warranty includes up to five years of roadside assistance.
Like: The seven-passenger Outlander offers families with active lifestyles versatility and value, with available all-wheel drive for four-season capability.
Dislikes: Small rear window, soft on-center response.
Model: Outlander 2.4 SEL AWC
Base price: $27,495
As tested: $32,390
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: 24/29 mpg city/highway2017, Best Value 2017, Active Lifestyle Vehicles, auto review, Mitsubishi, Outlander, performance, pricing, standard safety