One of the reasons people downsize to compact crossovers like the 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander is that they tend to get far better gas mileage than larger SUVs. And the Outlander, particularly in four-cylinder form, is no exception—with a stellar 25-mpg city rating in front-wheel-drive form.
Both ES and SE models with the CVT and front-wheel drive earn a rating of 25 mpg city, 31 highway—numbers that according to Mitsubishi are best-in-class among seven-passenger vehicles.
Add all-wheel drive and you lose a mile or two per gallon, but you might be able to make some of that up by engaging the Eco Mode, which runs the system as a front-wheel drive vehicle until there’s actual slip of the front wheels. With either engine, Eco Mode softens throttle response and uses the air conditioning compressor more conservatively. And all models get a smart alternator that helps improve efficiency in combination with the electric power steering.
V-6 Outlander GT models don’t go nearly as efficiently as the four-cylinder models, and premium fuel is recommended. Considering that these models don’t feel all that much quicker—even though their paddle-shifters and six-speed automatic might make them feel sportier—they’re not worth getting for anyone who values fuel efficiency.
Next year, for the 2015 model year (or perhaps 2016, as has most recently been suggested), a new Outlander PHEV (plug-in hybrid) will arrive, providing both all-wheel drive and the capability to function as a series or parallel hybrid, depending on which is most efficient at the time. It will combine a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with two 60-kW motors, and an electric-only range of more than 30 miles (with full charges taking about 4.5 hours on 240 volts.