Mitsubishi’s Outlander seven-passenger crossover got a redesign just last year, bringing key updates and new technology to the vehicle that has recently been the main product of this Japanese automaker in the U.S. market.
For 2017, prices begin at $23,495 (plus $940 freight) for the entry-level ES front-wheel-drive model. Other front-drive models include the SE ($24,495) and SEL ($25,495).
Outlander also is available with all-wheel drive, starting at $24,995 for the ES version, followed by the SE ($26,495); SEL ($27,495); and the top-of-the-line GT ($31,695), which we tested for this report.
The GT is available only with all-wheel drive and a V-6 engine; all others have an inline four-cylinder.
New features for 2017 include a standard shark fin antenna, an updated interior with a new gloss-black center floor console, a 12-volt power outlet in the cargo area, new front courtesy floor lamps, knit fabric sun visors and a washer fluid low-level warning light.
There’s also a new entry-level all-wheel control four-wheel drive system (for the ES), and a smartphone link display audio system with enhanced satellite radio, along with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.
Newly available high-tech safety features include blind spot warning with lane change assist and rear cross traffic alert; forward collision mitigation system with pedestrian detection; a multi-view camera system; and a wiper de-icer system (standard on all 4WD models).
Also new are a heated steering wheel, electric parking-brake switch, and automatic high-beam headlights.
Mitsubishi has eliminated the previous generation’s boxy exterior, and this newest Outlander uses the company’s new “dynamic design language,” with more than 100 engineering and design improvements.
Also refreshed last year was the 14-inch-shorter Outlander Sport model, which has a capacity of just five passengers. It’s on a modified chassis of the larger model known as just the Outlander – our test vehicle -- which can be configured for up to seven.
On the Outlander with the third row, the vehicle seats two in front, three in the second row, and two in the rear.
ES, SE and SEL models all come with a 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder engine rated at 166 horsepower and 162 foot-pounds of torque, coupled with a continuously variable automatic transmission. EPA fuel-economy ratings are 25 mpg city/30 highway/27 combined with front-wheel drive, and 24/29/26 with all-wheel drive.
Under the hood of our GT was the 3.0-liter V-6 engine, rated at 224 horsepower and 215 foot-pounds of torque. It’s paired with a six-speed Sportronic automatic transmission with paddle shifters for manual operation. EPA ratings are 20 city/27 highway/23 combined; we averaged 23.7 in a mix of about two-thirds highway driving.
We appreciated the boost in power provided by the V-6 engine over that of the four-cylinder. We loaded our vehicle with five people and took some mountain roads that put a strain on the engine, but handled the chore well, even when passing on some uphill stretches.
But the V-6 really isn’t necessary in the Outlander. The base four-cylinder engine has adequate power for most people’s everyday needs.
Among standard features included even at the starting price are LED positioning lights, 18-inch alloy wheels, and LED taillights. Inside, last year’s improvements included a redesigned steering wheel, improved second-row seating, new accent trim, seating surfaces and headliner, and other amenities.
The forward collision mitigation, lane departure warning, and adaptive cruise control are offered on SEL and GT models, and all three were included on my GT tester as part of the GT touring package ($1,500), which also brought the multi-view camera system, heated steering wheel and automatic high beams.
Other standard features on our GT included the third-row seat, leather upholstery, eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, four-way manually adjustable front passenger seat, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather-wrapped shifter and steering wheel, tilt/telescopic steering column, 710-watt Rockford-Fosgate premium audio system with nine speakers, power tailgate with remote control, remote keyless entry with pushbutton start, rearview camera (shown in the pop-up navigation screen on top of the center dash), self-dimming rearview mirror with universal garage/gate opener, and more.
Our GT came with the uplevel all-wheel-drive system called S-AWC, which stands for super-all wheel control. It’s as much about helping the vehicle to steer precisely through tight turns as it is about giving it better traction on slippery roads.
It normally sends power to the front wheels, but shifts needed torque to the rear when slippage is detected. It’s designed to enhance handling on all road surfaces, wet or dry. The system does not include low-range gearing for extreme off-road use, however.
Included was hill-start assist, which holds the car on a hill for a couple of seconds after the driver’s foot comes off the brake pedal.
S-AWC has an active front differential as well as an electronic center differential, which work together to keep the vehicle moving. There are “Tarmac,” “Snow” and “Lock” modes that can be selected by the driver.
Outlander’s exterior design includes a concept Mitsubishi calls “Dynamic Shield,” which is the company says was inherited from the bumper side protection seen on generations of the Montero SUV.
Among other changes for 2016 were increased body and suspension rigidity, redesigned electric power steering, a noise-isolating windshield and rear door glass, more sound insulation throughout the vehicle, a new dynamic front suspension and rear differential dampers, and improved weather stripping and engine-compartment trim on all models.
On the exterior, there are redesigned front and rear fascia and front fenders, along with new halogen headlights, revised lower door sections, power-folding side mirrors, and, on the GT, the windshield wiper de-icers.
Available exterior colors include quartz brown (new), cosmic blue, labrador black, cool silver, mercury gray, rally red and diamond white. Our tester was the labrador black, with a beige interior.
Helping to protect passengers is Mitsubishi’s reinforced impact safety evolution patented safety body construction. Included are energy-absorbing crumple zones and strategically placed reinforcements, a collapsible steering column, a foldaway brake-pedal assembly, and side-impact door beams.
Every Outlander comes with seven air bags, including front seat-mounted side-impact air bags, and roof-mounted side-curtain side air bags with rollover sensors.
Other standard safety features include four-wheel antilock brakes with Electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist; active stability control with traction control logic; and a tire pressure monitoring system.
The Outlander is designed for easy loading and unloading of gear in the rear cargo area, which has 34.2 cubic feet of space when the third seat is not in place. With the third seat present, cargo space is cut to just 10.3 cubic feet.
The third seat is best left to little kids, but only ones who are big enough to get into and out of the third row by themselves.
In the middle row, the bench seat has a 60/40 split-folding feature that allows for further expansion of the cargo area. With the middle and third seats folded, cargo space increases to 63.3 cubic feet.
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2017 Mitsubishi Outlander
The package: Compact, four-door, five- or seven-passenger, four-cylinder or V-6 powered, front- or all-wheel-drive crossover utility vehicle.
Highlights: Mitsubishi’s compact seven-passenger SUV was updated for 2016. The Outlander is longer than the five-passenger-only Outlander Sport, and is one of only a few compact crossovers to offer a third row of seats.
Negatives: Third-row seat is a tight fit for adults.
Engine: 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder; 3.0-liter V-6.
Transmission: Continuously variable automatic (I-4); six-speed automatic (V-6).
Power/torque: 166 HP./162 foot-pounds (I-4); 224 HP./215 foot-pounds (V-6).
Length: 184.8 inches.
Curb weight: 3,318-3,593 pounds.
Brakes, front/rear: Disc/disc, antilock.
Cargo volume: 34.2 cubic feet (third seat folded); 10.3 cubic feet (behind third seat).
Towing capacity: 1,500 (I-4); 3,500 pounds (V-6).
Electronic stability control: Standard.
Side air bags: Front seat-mounted bags and side-curtain bags for first and second rows are standard.
Fuel capacity/type: 16.6 gallons (2WD); 15.8 gallons (AWD)/unleaded regular.
EPA fuel economy: 25 mpg city 30 highway//27 combined (I-4, 2WD); 24/29/26 (I-4, AWD); 20/27/23 (V-6, AWD).
Major competitors: Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, Ford Escape, Nissan Rogue, Mazda CX-5, Jeep Cherokee, Chevrolet Equinox, GMC Terrain, Subaru Outback, Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sportage.
Base price range: $23,495-$31,695, plus $940 freight.
Price as tested: $34,135, including freight and options (GT 3.0 S-AWC, 2017 price).
On the Road rating: 8.7 (of a possible 10).
Prices shown are manufacturer’s suggested retail; actual sales price may vary.