2008 Mitsubishi Outlander Review

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The Car Connection
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The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
July 22, 2008

Though the first-generation Outlander was often overlooked, the updated 2008 Mitsubishi Outlander has emerged as a well-rounded vehicle--and one of the sportiest-driving small crossovers.

To bring you this extensive review on the 2008 Mitsubishi Outlander, the automotive experts at TheCarConnection.com sifted through the range of available information on the Web. Then TheCarConnection.com’s editors brought their driving experience with the Outlander to create a comprehensive review.

The Outlander is Mitsubishi's compact crossover utility vehicle; it was completely redesigned for 2007, with the new model slightly longer, taller, and wider than the previous edition. A small third-row seat is now offered on the Outlander.

The rudimentary engine on base ES models of 2008 Mitsubishi Outlander is a 168-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder and CVT automatic, which provides barely adequate performance with quite a bit of engine noise when accelerating. All other models get a 220-horsepower, 3.0-liter V-6 that is much smoother, delivers its power through a responsive, easy-shifting six-speed automatic with steering-wheel paddles, and has more power to spare overall. The V-6 gets several mpg less in city fuel economy but has the same rating (25 mpg with front-wheel drive) on the highway. All models come with a choice of front- or all-wheel drive.

The Outlander shares some of its underpinnings with the Lancer sedan, and like the Lancer, it has very good, communicative steering. It handles better on the road than some of the more trucklike or rugged utility vehicles, and it has the nice, firm braking of a performance car. The ride is firm and can be choppy over railroad tracks and the like, but a nearly full load makes it more settled.

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The Outlander's design is very space-efficient, fitting comfortable seating space for five into a package that's more than a foot shorter than a typical mid-size sedan. Officially, there's seating in back for up to seven--if they're very small children--but the second row slides fore and aft and reclines. In back, the third and second rows of seating fold to create an impressive, continuous cargo space of nearly 73 cubic feet behind the front seats. At the back, the fold-down tailgate can support 440 pounds. Up front, the seating position is great and the instrument panel is very attractive, looking like it might fit in a sporty coupe, but up close, the mix of dull plastic and matte-metallic surfaces doesn't feel as good as it looks from a distance.

Four different models of the Outlander are offered: base ES, LS, SE, and XLS. The base model has the four-cylinder and keeps it simple, though it includes air conditioning, keyless entry, and a six-speaker sound system. At the top of the lineup, the luxurious XLS picks up fog lamps, steering-wheel audio controls, remote starting, a Bluetooth hands-free system, cruise control, and automatic climate control.

Options include a navigation system with a 30GB hard-drive-based music server, a 650-watt Rockford Fosgate audio system, or a DVD rear-seat entertainment system.

All Outlanders come with front side airbags, side curtain bags covering the first two rows, electronic stability control, and anti-lock brakes. The Outlander does extremely well in all crash tests, with top five-star ratings in the federal government's frontal impact and side impact exams, along with "good" ratings from the insurance-supported IIHS in frontal impact, where it earned a "Top Safety Pick" award.

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2008 Mitsubishi Outlander

Styling

The handsome, flowing exterior of the 2008 Mitsubishi Outlander conceals a well-styled, though not entirely problem-free, interior.

Although styling is highly subjective, reviews read by TheCarConnection.com reveal that the styling of the 2008 Mitsubishi Outlander is a hit with the automotive press. The interior styling also scores well, but doesn't receive quite the same praise as the sheetmetal on the Mitsubishi Outlander.

Car and Driver declares that "Mitsubishi certainly got it right with the vehicle's styling." Cars.com reviewers describe the major exterior styling elements on the Mitsubishi Outlander as "wraparound headlights" that "flank a trapezoidal grille," along with "a gaping intake below the front bumper" and a roofline that "terminates at angular D-pillars." Motor Trend proclaims it’s “handsome, decidedly dashing next to its predecessor” and says the new Outlander “has an air that's all SUV.” Edmunds simply states it has a “stylish, distinctive-looking exterior.”

Edmunds also notes that the "2008 Mitsubishi Outlander is available in four trim levels: ES, LS, SE and XLS," though the external differences are minimal, as the ES "comes standard with 16-inch steel wheels," while the LS upgrades to "16-inch alloy wheels" and the SE and XLS both offer standard "18-inch alloy wheels."

The interior of the Mitsubishi 2008 Outlander was redesigned, along with the rest of the vehicle, for the 2007 model year, and it is unchanged entering 2008. Reviewers generally approve of the interior design, with Motor Trend calling it "contemporary" and Edmunds adding "the Outlander's interior is attractive looking." Not all impressions are positive, however, as reviewers at ConsumerGuide feel that "the smallish digital display in the center of the gauge cluster can wash out at times," and they lament "the climate controls are mounted too low for easy access while driving." Other than those few gripes, the Mitsubishi Outlander wins praise for a gauge cluster that Cars.com notes "is reminiscent of motorcycles."

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2008 Mitsubishi Outlander

Performance

The 2008 Mitsubishi Outlander is a fun, if rough-riding, crossover.

The 2008 Mitsubishi Outlander augments its appeal this year with the addition of a more fuel-efficient engine, while it retains good handling.

Cars.com notes "for 2008, Mitsubishi adds a 168-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine" to the Outlander lineup on ES and SE trim levels. That engine complements the "3.0-liter V6" that Edmunds says is "good for 220 hp and 204 pound-feet of torque" and powers the Mitsubishi Outlander LS and XLS trims. That Mitsubishi 2008 V-6 scores well in reviews read by TheCarConnection.com, as Mother Proof finds that it "has impressive power" and offers "easy access to speed." Kelley Blue Book remarks that their 2008 Mitsubishi Outlander "never had trouble merging or passing." The four-cylinder engine is somewhat less enthusiastic, and ConsumerGuide indicates that it is "slow from a stop," but they also claim that it accelerates "adequately above 20 mph."

Each of the two engine options on the 2008 Mitsubishi Outlander is offered with just one transmission choice, and Edmunds says that "four-cylinder Outlanders come standard with a CVT, while V6 models have a more traditional six-speed automatic." Both transmissions "have manual-shift capability" and "all Outlander trims are available with either front-wheel or all-wheel drive," according to Edmunds. The CVT, or continuously variable transmission, on the four-cylinder engines receives mixed reviews; while ConsumerGuide comments that it "adjusts ratios promptly for passing," AutoWeek characterizes it as "wildly erratic." The six-speed automatic is certainly the more welcome transmission, and Edmunds praises the "crisp and well-timed" shifts that it offers.

All-wheel drive is an option on the Outlander. “Choose '4WD Auto' and at least 15 percent of engine torque is routed to the rear axle at all times, and when you're accelerating on packed snow or other slippery surfaces, the rear wheels can accept up to 60 percent of the power,” Edmunds reports. “Choose '4WD Lock' and the system sends a greater percentage of torque to the rear wheels -- up to 60 percent under full-throttle acceleration.”

Fuel economy on the Mitsubishi 2008 Outlander is nothing spectacular, but the four-cylinder fares better than the V-6. The EPA estimates that the 2008 Mitsubishi Outlander returns 17 mpg city and 25 mpg highway when equipped with the V-6 in 2WD mode, while the V-6 in 4WD mode gets 17/24 mpg. Both drive configurations of the four-cylinder engine offer 20 mpg city and 25 mpg on the highway.

The 2008 Mitsubishi Outlander isn't much of a class standout in terms of speed, but its handling is a strong virtue and an argument in its favor versus the likes of Ford’s Escape. Edmunds reviewers find that "driving the 2008 Mitsubishi Outlander is more fun than you might expect, as its well-tuned chassis gives it sporty reflexes around corners and transmits considerable feedback to the driver." ConsumerGuide adds that the Mitsubishi Outlander has only "moderate body lean in turns." The Mitsubishi Outlander's handling prowess is due in large part to the fact that it is "based on a platform that sees duty in the current Lancer and Lancer Evolution sport sedan," according to Cars.com.

Edmunds writes, “Ride quality is just as important as handling in a small SUV, though, and the Outlander is indeed comfortable and well-mannered when cruising.” However, Car and Driver says it has "a stiff suspension for an SUV." ConsumerGuide observes that "the suspension does a poor job overall of absorbing sharp bumps," which makes for a rough and uncomfortable ride.

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2008 Mitsubishi Outlander

Comfort & Quality

The 2008 Mitsubishi Outlander is comfortable up front and spacious in the rear, but it needs improvement in materials and sound deadening.

The 2008 Mitsubishi Outlander boasts an impressive amount of cargo space and innovative features, but occupant space and, more noticeably, materials quality lag behind the competition.

The 2008 Mitsubishi Outlander ostensibly has room for seven in XLS trim, as Edmunds writes that the Mitsubishi "Outlander XLS comes with a third-row seat," though its "effectiveness is debatable." ConsumerGuide says that the "3rd row is suitable only for kids, and they will ride in an uncomfortable knees-up position on a cushion that uses webbed hammock-style material rather than conventional padding." Fortunately, the third row can collapse "flat into the cargo floor when not in use," leading Kelley Blue Book to term it a "why not?" feature.

In the front and middle seats, according to reviews read by TheCarConnection.com, passenger space is much more accommodating. ConsumerGuide says that the front seats in the Mitsubishi Outlander offer "plentiful headroom and legroom" and "the seats are generally comfortable, though some occupants may want more thigh support." They add that the second row features "good headroom," and "legroom on all Outlanders is more than sufficient for most adults."

Interior storage and practical storage features abound on the 2008 Mitsubishi Outlander. Edmunds reviewers report that "in terms of cargo room, a little less than 73 cubic feet is at your disposal with the second- and third-row seats folded," and they "particularly like the Outlander's dual-opening rear hatch, as the upper portion provides convenient access to groceries, while the lower portion" can drop down "to form a tailgate capable of supporting 440 pounds." Interior storage on the Mitsubishi 2008 Outlander draws praise as well, particularly from ConsumerGuide, where testers observe that the "good interior storage includes a nicely sized glovebox and center console."

For all the virtues the Mitsubishi 2008 Outlander displays in terms of storage, it can't overcome its significant materials and build-quality drawbacks. Car and Driver notes that it "doesn't quite match the RAV4 for material quality," while Edmunds mentions the "plastics and controls feel a bit low-grade." ConsumerGuide remarks that the "cabin has few padded surfaces and many plastic panels that feel thin and hollow to the touch" and also "look on the cheap side," while one of their Mitsubishi Outlanders "suffered from a number of interior creaks and groans," a sign of poor build quality.

Reminders of the Mitsubishi Outlander's questionable build quality--exemplified by loud exterior noise--can be heard every time you drive down the highway. ConsumerGuide rates the Mitsubishi Outlander below the class average when it comes to interior noise levels and deems "engine and bump noise are the biggest sources of ruckus." AutoWeek adds that the 2008 Mitsubishi Outlander is plagued by "roaring engine, tranny, road and wind noise."

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2008 Mitsubishi Outlander

Safety

The 2008 Mitsubishi Outlander boasts a wealth of airbags and strong crash-test ratings that will comfort even the most nervous of drivers.

The 2008 Mitsubishi Outlander offers world-class crash-test ratings and a long list of safety features.

Both major crash-testing agencies, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the government's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), have tested the 2008 Mitsubishi Outlander, and the results are very impressive. The NHTSA subjected the 2008 Mitsubishi Outlander to its full battery of tests and subsequently awarded the Mitsubishi Outlander a perfect five-star rating in all four impact tests. The Mitsubishi 2008 Outlander earns this five-star rating for front driver and passenger impact protection, as well as driver and passenger side impact protection. A further testament to the solid construction and engineering featured on the Mitsubishi Outlander comes from the IIHS, where testers award the 2008 Mitsubishi Outlander their highest rating, "good," for all impacts;the IIHS' "Top Safety Pick" award goes with those results.

Crash-test results, though very important, are only one part of the equation when it comes to overall safety. A second, and equally critical, component is the list of standard and optional safety features that come with a vehicle. Here, again, reviews read by TheCarConnection.com indicate that the Mitsubishi Outlander is a standout, and all of its safety features come standard on every trim level. Mother Proof reviewers write that these features include "an advanced air bag system and an anti-lock brake system," while Cars.com adds that "an electronic stability system" comes standard. Rounding out the list of safety features, Edmunds says that "whiplash-reducing front head restraints" are found on every 2008 Mitsubishi Outlander.

One area where many SUVs and crossovers suffer is driver visibility, as their large dimensions typically hinder visibility, especially to the rear corners. However, the 2008 Mitsubishi Outlander manages to excel here as well, as ConsumerGuide notes that although the "tall 3rd-row seatbacks partially block the view astern," the "visibility is fine otherwise."

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2008 Mitsubishi Outlander

Features

The 2008 Mitsubishi Outlander offers everything you could ask for in a $20,000 vehicle as standard equipment, and even more in the form of options.

With a base price right around $20,000 for the cheapest models, the 2008 Mitsubishi Outlander in not where one might expect to find the most impressive features list, but this crossover always manages to impress. In terms of both standard and optional features, the 2008 Mitsubishi Outlander is easily one of the class leaders.

The Mitsubishi 2008 Outlander's four trim levels offer varying degrees of luxury when it comes to standard features, but even the base ES is nicely equipped. Edmunds writes that the Mitsubishi Outlander ES features "air-conditioning, a six-speaker CD stereo, cruise control, a trip computer, full power accessories and reclining rear seats," while the LS adds "keyless ignition, an auxiliary audio jack, [and] a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls."

For the two more luxurious trims, ConsumerGuide says to expect a "power sunroof," a "Rockford Fosgate AM/FM radio w/in-dash 6-disc CD/MP3 changer," and "satellite radio" on the Mitsubishi Outlander SE, while the top-of-the-line XLS adds "automatic climate control" and a "wireless cell phone link."

Mother Proof reviewers in particular rave about the fact that their Mitsubishi Outlander XLS is "Bluetooth capable with caller ID and voice-recognition software."

Options on the 2008 Mitsubishi Outlander come in the form of several packages and a few stand-alone features. Cars.com says that some of the most noteworthy options are "a 30GB hard-drive-based navigation system" and "rear seat DVD entertainment system with a 9-inch screen," both of which are available as stand-alone options. With that navigation system, Edmunds notes "for 2008, Mitsubishi has added a first-of-its-type feature that allows drivers to tailor their navigation directions based on carpool lanes."

ConsumerGuide lists the available packages as the Convenience Package on the ES trims, which include "leather-wrapped steering wheel w/radio controls, auxiliary power outlet, wireless cell phone link," and "alloy wheels," while the XLS offers a Sun and Sound Package with the SE's "Rockford Fosgate AM/FM radio w/in-dash 6-disc CD/MP3 changer." The other major package on the XLS is the Luxury Package, which ConsumerGuide says incorporates "leather upholstery, heated front seats, power driver seat, [and] xenon headlights."

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