2009 Mitsubishi Outlander

Consumer Reviews
1 Review
The Car Connection
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Trevor Wild Trevor Wild Author
April 17, 2009

Buying tip

Rumors persist that a production vehicle along the lines of a rally-themed, 300-horsepower Evolander concept is under development. So if you’re torn between the racy Evolution and the practicality of the Outlander, maybe the concept model will come to fruition.

features & specs

2WD 4-Door ES
2WD 4-Door SE
2WD 4-Door XLS
20 city / 25 hwy
20 city / 25 hwy
17 city / 24 hwy

Though the first-generation Outlander was often overlooked, the updated 2009 Mitsubishi Outlander has emerged as a well-rounded vehicle—and one of the sportiest-driving small crossovers.

TheCarConnection.com's editors drove the new Outlander in order to give you an expert opinion in this Bottom Line. TheCarConnection.com also researched available road tests on the new Outlander to bring you highlights and to help you find the truth where other car reviews might differ.

For 2009 Mitsubishi drops the mid-level V-6 Outlander from its compact crossover utility vehicle lineup and adds a third seat to its SE four-cylinder model. All three models—the base ES, as well as the upscale SE and V6 XLS—are available with either 2WD or 4WD. Mitsubishi makes the Convenience Package standard equipment on the ES 4WD model, and an optional third-row seat that’s stowable under the floor is now available. The third row remains standard on the XLS model.

The 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine in base ES models produces 168 horsepower, and it brings barely adequate performance with quite a bit of engine noise when accelerating. The 3.0-liter V-6 engine produces 220 horsepower, delivered through a responsive, easy-shifting six-speed automatic with steering-wheel paddles; it has a lot more power to spare. 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, and most drivers won't see much less with the four-cylinder. All models come with a choice of front- or all-wheel drive.

The 2009 Outlander has good, communicative steering. And like the Lancer, with which it shares some of its underpinnings, the Outlander handles better on the road than some of the more truck-like 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 it feels more settled with a nearly full load.

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The Mitsubishi Outlander is a foot shorter than a typical mid-size sedan, so fitting five adults into a package with this kind of limited space is an exercise in efficiency. 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 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; it looks 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 appears from a distance.

Three different models of the Outlander are offered: ES, 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 start, a Bluetooth hands-free system, cruise control, and automatic climate control. Other changes for the 2009 Mitsubishi Outlander include a rearview camera and an increase in capacity for a hard disk music server on the XLS model.

Options include a navigation system with a new 40GB 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.


2009 Mitsubishi Outlander


The 2009 Mitsubishi Outlander offers a handsome, flowing exterior, though a not entirely problem-free interior.

Reviews read by TheCarConnection.com reveal that the styling of the 2009 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.

Motor Trend proclaims it “handsome, decidedly dashing next to its predecessor” and “has an air that's all SUV.” Edmunds simply states it has a “stylish, distinctive-looking exterior.” 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."

According to Edmunds, the "2009 Mitsubishi Outlander is available in three trim levels: ES, SE and XLS," though the external differences are minimal, as the ES "comes standard with 16-inch steel wheels," and the SE and XLS both offer standard "18-inch alloy wheels."

The interior of the Mitsubishi 2009 Outlander is redesigned, along with the rest of the vehicle, for the 2007 model year, and is unchanged entering 2009.

Not all impressions are positive about the 2009 Mitsubishi Outlander, as reviewers at ConsumerGuide say that "the smallish digital display in the center of the gauge cluster can wash out at times" and 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." Reviewers generally approve of the interior design, with Motor Trend calling it "contemporary" and Edmunds adding "the Outlander's interior is attractive looking."

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2009 Mitsubishi Outlander


The 2009 Mitsubishi Outlander is one of the most enjoyable small crossovers to drive—if you’re willing to overlook the coarse four-cylinder engine.

Good handling and a fuel-efficient engine make the 2009 Mitsubishi Outlander appealing from a performance perspective, according to most reviewers, and while most were pleased by the available V-6, there are plenty of gripes about the standard four-cylinder.

The 2009 Mitsubishi V-6 scores well in reviews read by TheCarConnection.com, as MotherProof finds it "has impressive power" and offers "easy access to speed." Kelley Blue Book remarks that their 2009 Mitsubishi Outlander "never had trouble merging or passing." The four-cylinder engine is somewhat less enthusiastic, and ConsumerGuide indicates it is "slow from a stop," but they also claim it accelerates "adequately above 20 mph." Cars.com notes "for 2008, Mitsubishi added 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 XLS.

The 2009 Mitsubishi Outlander is offered with just one transmission per engine. Edmunds says "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.

Mitsubishi makes available all-wheel drive an option on Outlander models. “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.”

The EPA estimates that the 2009 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.

While handling is a strong point of the 2009 Mitsubishi Outlander, the crossover isn't a stunner in terms of speed. Edmunds reviewers find that "driving the 2009 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 it is "based on a platform that sees duty in the current Lancer and Lancer Evolution sport sedan," according to Cars.com.

Car and Driver says the Outlander 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. Edmunds contends, “Ride quality is just as important as handling in a small SUV, though, and the Outlander is indeed comfortable and well-mannered when cruising.”

Review continues below

2009 Mitsubishi Outlander

Comfort & Quality

The 2009 Mitsubishi Outlander has enough space, but all the noises aren’t reassuring.

While the quality of interior materials used lag behind the competition, the 2009 Mitsubishi Outlander boasts an impressive amount of cargo space and innovative features.

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. Edmunds reports that the Mitsubishi "Outlander comes with a third-row seat," though its "effectiveness is debatable."

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."

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 2009 Outlander draws praise as well, particularly from ConsumerGuide, where testers observe that the "good interior storage includes a nicely sized glove box and center console."

The 2009 Outlander can't overcome drawbacks regarding its materials and build quality. 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 "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.

You can hear the Outlander's questionable build quality 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 2009 Mitsubishi Outlander is plagued by "roaring engine, tranny, road and wind noise."

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2009 Mitsubishi Outlander


The 2009 Mitsubishi Outlander receives impressive results from both crash-test agencies and boasts a wealth of airbags.

A long list of safety features and world-class crash-test ratings make the 2009 Mitsubishi Outlander a wise choice.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) subjects the 2009 Mitsubishi Outlander to its full battery of tests and subsequently awards it a perfect five stars in all four impact tests. The Mitsubishi 2009 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 Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), where testers award the 2009 Mitsubishi Outlander their highest rating, "good," for frontal offset impact protection.

As important as crash-test results are, 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. MotherProof reviewers state 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 2009 Mitsubishi Outlander.

The 2009 Mitsubishi Outlander manages to excel at offering excellent driver visibility where other crossovers fail. ConsumerGuide notes that although the "tall 3rd-row seatbacks partially block the view astern," the "visibility is fine otherwise."

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 2009 Mitsubishi Outlander, and the results are very impressive.


2009 Mitsubishi Outlander


The 2009 Mitsubishi Outlander offers everything you could ask for in a $20,000 vehicle as standard equipment, and even more in the form of options.

The 2009 Mitsubishi Outlander is easily one of the class leaders in terms of both standard and optional features. With a base price around $20,000, the Outlander is not a likely suspect for having such an impressive list of features.

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."

The Mitsubishi 2009 Outlander's four trim levels offer varying degrees of luxury when it comes to standard features, but even the base ES is nicely equipped.
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."

MotherProof 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 2009 Mitsubishi Outlander come in 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 2009, 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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April 20, 2015
For 2009 Mitsubishi Outlander

Great value and good versatile vehicle.

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This vehicle met all of my expectations, except fuel economy. Although it is hard on fuel economy in the city, the highway mileage is quite good. It can be configured for all of the things I ask it to do... + More »
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