2014 Mitsubishi Outlander Review

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The Car Connection
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The Car Connection Expert Review

Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
August 8, 2014

The 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander isn’t the distinctive, sportier outlier that the previous version was, but it’s now a better pick for frugal families who want seven seats and lots of features for the money.

The new 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander is neither the most visually distinctive nor the best-performing mid-size crossover, but it's a perfect example of where the Japanese carmaker is headed: into the heart of the market with comfortable and efficient vehicles. No more bold personality or high-performance image. This utility vehicle is meant to appeal directly to families in one of the fastest-growing vehicle segments, and it's competitive in a way that Mitsubishi simply hasn't been to date.

Just put the new model next to its 2013 predecessor, and the message is clear. The outgoing Outlander sported a blunt, shark-nosed front end, a wedgy silhouette, and interior fittings with a distinct performance tinge--channeling some of its Evo sport sedan character into what would likely be used as a suburban hauler.

Now, Mitsubishi shows off simplicity and practicality in its new and more restrained look. Without the bulbous front-end styling and unfocused exterior look, we’d call it elegant (it is, in profile), but it’s not a sporty look, with its smooth sheetmetal and single beltline crease. Inside, ‘simple’ is also the way to describe the look of the rather low-set instrument panel. There aren’t a lot of buttons, and the layout and trims are modest but tasteful.

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Now Mitsubishi may aspire to reach more value-minded families with the 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander, but it'll need to be those who aren't all that interested in fashion-forward design. Driving enjoyment, too, is no longer as much of a priority. The former Outlander was also, we dare say, a better drive. Although heavy, especially in top GT form, this former version was tuned (deceptively) for the back roads.

The 2014 Outlander may be more nimble, thanks to an aggressive weight-loss plan in the structure that includes more high-tensile steel; and it might be a bit faster, by the numbers. But with a softer suspension and other changes aimed at refinement, it's not more fun to drive. If you know the likes of the Nissan Rogue, Honda CR-V, and Toyota RAV4, the driving experience for the Outlander is fully competitive, if not a bit more refined. A base 2.4-liter four-cylinder now includes variable valve lift as well as timing, making 166 hp and feeling quite perky and at ease with the continuously variable automatic transmission. GT models pack a 224-hp V-6 that’s disappointing in that it’s considerably thirstier, asks for premium fuel, and doesn’t develop all that much torque until you rev it. The paddle-shifters and six-speed automatic spice up the driving experience a bit, though.

On the plus side, Mitsubishi has put a lot of effort into aerodynamics this time; there’s a seven-percent reduction in the coefficient of drag (now a low 0.33) and things like roof grooves and a top rear spoiler help smooth airflow at highway speeds. In its Eco Mode, the Outlander reverts to sending all power to the front wheels unless needed for traction. The payoff: 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.

Mitsubishi has also gone to a new electric power steering system, redesigned the rear-suspension geometry, and gone to somewhat softer springs—plus loads more noise insulation—so the cabin feels tight and quiet, though there’s a bit more roll and body motion than we remember from the previous version. Again it’s about par for the class, unless you’re looking at the sportier entries like the Ford Escape or Mazda CX-5. One thing the Outlander does have is enough toughness for minor off-roading or deep snow; the AWD system that’s offered on mid-grade ES and sporty GT models includes a front e-diff and a ocking center diff but no low range

Inside, the Outlander is well above par in almost every respect, compared to other roomy compact crossovers. As one of the lowest-priced vehicles offering three rows of seating, the Outlander can fit up to seven and includes a good driving position (with tilt/telescopic steering) and good headroom and legroom for adults in the second row. It’s also one of the most compact three-row vehicles, though, so think of that third row only as a backup plan for carpool duty. That said, the seats fold flat, the cargo floor is rather low, and the second row slides fore and aft to fine-tune legroom. However, at a time when almost every model tries to emulate luxury models, the Outlander cabin isn’t going above and beyond in design or materials, but it does feel warm and accommodating.

Firsts for Mitsubishi in the Outlander include Adaptive Cruise Control (with three distance settings), Lane Departure Warning, and a Forward Collision Mitigation that will, at lower speeds, first signal that an obstacle or other vehicle is ahead and then brake the vehicle fully to a stop. Otherwise the Outlander is shaping up to be one of the top-rated vehicles in its class for safety, having achieved both a five-star federal rating (with all-wheel drive) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) Top Safety Pick+ status—including a top 'good' result in the new small overlap frontal test.

Mitsubishi was selling the Outlander on more aggressive styling and driving attributes, but it’s clearly repositioned the new 2014 model, in its new form, toward value—and offering one of the strongest sets of standard equipment for the money, among compact-to-mid-size crossovers. And if it’s three-row models you’re considering, the new model is the features-for-money champ. The 2014 Outlander is offered in ES, SE, and GT models, and we tend to think that the best value in the lineup is found in the middle SE models. Base ES models don’t include Bluetooth or alloy wheels, but if you can look past that they include automatic climate control, keyless entry, and a six-speaker, 140-watt audio system, among other things. ES models add push-button start, dual-zone climate control, heated front seats, and a touch-screen system with the FUSE HandsFreeLink system and a rearview camera—and an interface that’s superior to what’s offered in most other rivals. With the V-6 GT you can get leather, a sunroof, and the power tailgate.

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2014 Mitsubishi Outlander

Styling

You might see the 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander as too bland; but if simplicity is your thing, it could strike the right chord.

The outgoing Mitsubishi Outlander, with its blunt, shark-nose front end, wedgelike silhouette, and performance-tinged interior, channeled some of the spirit of the Evolution sport sedan in appearance. Now Mitsubishi may aspire to reach more value-minded families with the 2014 Outlander, but the design heads off entirely in that direction—one that we tend to think is a little bland.

Yet to its credit, Mitsubishi hasn’t at all followed the pack, and instead ended up with a product that looks different than anything else on the market.

Going by its silhouette, the 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander is pleasantly proportioned, if ordinary. Mitsubishi says that the new flowing front-end appearance—with the grille down below the bumper and merely an insert above—is as it is for aerodynamics, and to set a new, efficiency-minded look. However we think the softly contoured, smoothed-over look doesn’t seem nearly as exciting or commanding. The side profile is especially clean though, with a single, distinct crease running just below the beltline. In back, we think that the rounded corners and clear taillamp lenses look a little retro-1990s—and we’re not sure if that’s intentional or not.

On the plus side, Mitsubishi’s aerodynamics improvements have yielded a seven-percent reduction in the coefficient of drag (now a low 0.33) and things like roof grooves and a top rear spoiler help smooth airflow at highway speeds.

Inside, ‘simple’ is the word to describe the rather low-set instrument panel, which some may see as too plain or others mind find refreshingly straightforward. There aren’t a lot of buttons, and the layout and trims are modest but tasteful. At a time when almost every model tries to emulate luxury models, the Outlander cabin isn’t going above and beyond in design or materials, but it does feel warm and accommodating.

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2014 Mitsubishi Outlander

Performance

The 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander is no longer sporty and sharp, but it performs as well as other models in this class—especially if you include its seven-seat capacity.

If performance is one of your top priorities in a compact SUV, the 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander probably won’t be your top pick. While the previous Outlander GT especially was a taut, athletic vehicle and quite fun to drive, Mitsubishi has softened that and the entire lineup a bit for 2014.

That said, this new model is up to 220 pounds lighter than the previous version, and Mitsubishi has introduced a new-generation, 166-hp version of its 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that’s both more refined and stronger where it counts—in the low and mid revs. Those two factors combined mean that four-cylinder versions are now agreeable and well-suited for the commute.

The SOHC four isn’t turbocharged or direct-injected, but it does include MiVEC (continuously variable valve timing with lift), adjusting the intake valve timing and height in coordination with the throttle. This engine makes 166 hp and 162 pound-feet of torque, and it comes only with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT).

Only in the Outlander GT, there’s a 3.0-liter V-6. It’s essentially carry-over, but it comes with a new six-speed automatic transmission with a taller final drive ratio than before, plus a new torque-converter strategy. This is an extremely smooth engine—and it sounds great when accelerating quickly—but its rather feeble 224 hp and 215 pound-feet of torque neither stands up to other V-6s in useful power nor to the new EcoBoost turbo (2.0-liter) four in the Escape. Furthermore, premium fuel is recommended.

The V-6 Outlander GT also drives a bit heavier than the four, shifting its weight with a little less finesse than the SE four-cylinder. In either case, there’s a new electric power steering system that’s precise, and rather firm, considering the mission. The suspension layout is pretty typical for a crossover, with MacPherson struts and a new multi-link rear geometry that aims to reduce unsprung weight.

All Outlander ES models have front-wheel drive, but the SE and GT models come with an all-wheel drive system called S-AWC. This AWD system has an electronically controlled center coupling, combined with an open rear differential, but it’s unlike some all-wheel-drive systems in that it has a separate active front differential to help get the right torque split for the conditions, to help power through conditions when one wheel might be on ice, for instance.

As for off-roading, the Outlander can go off pavement and can handle some pretty rutted-and-rough two-tracks; and its 8.5 inches of ground clearance is pretty typical for this class.

The single attribute that may tilt you in favor of the V-6 is that this model is rated much higher for towing—3,500 pounds, versus 1,500—which makes it able to tow (if not all that quickly) a small pleasure boat or camper.

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2014 Mitsubishi Outlander

Comfort & Quality

With very comfortable first- and second-row seating, the 2014 Outlander is a very comfortable family vehicle, considering its manageable size.

Crossovers like the Mitsubishi Outlander are attractive replacements for sedans as they offer a little more utility and versatility, plus a driving position that better suits not only aging Baby Boomers but busy moms.

The Outlander has that, including seats that are quite comfortable for first- and second-row occupants, and a great driving position. The Outlander at last gets tilt-and-telescopic steering adjustment (its predecessor lacked the telescopic function), so those with longer legs and shorter arms (and vice versa) are able to feel more at ease. The second-row seat slides several inches fore and aft, and the seatbacks adjust individually for rake.

Mitsubishi boasts that the Outlander’s third row is nearly five inches wider than before, with 2.4 inches more legroom, yet as one of the most compact models with three rows of seating on the market, the Outlander performs no spacial magic. Even getting into that third row is something only kids will try; and even pre-teens may be looking at their knees. Think of it only as a pinch-hitter third-row seat, for when you suddenly need to bring a couple more kids back from practice.

Interior trims vary a bit between models; the ES and SE get what’s called a ‘standard accent’—a matte-metallic trim for the dash and doors—while woodgrain interior trim is optional with the Premium or Touring Packages.

The Outlander has more noise insulation in the floor, dashboard, and headliner for 2014, and combined with the somewhat more compliant suspension and improved aerodynamics amounts to a very quiet, refined cabin.

Seat-folding involves many more steps than you’d expect—including lifting and flipping forward the lower cushion, removing the second-row headrests, clicking an unlock lever, and then releasing the seatbacks to flip those forward. Yet the effort is definitely rewarded; the Outlander has a lower cargo floor than other vehicles in this class, and it’s nice and flat (and 13 inches longer than the outgoing Outlander, Mitsubishi says).

There’s an underfloor storage box that has enough space to hide a couple of laptop bags out of the way, as well as open side boxes just aft of the wheel wells—giving smaller items a place without rattling around too much.

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2014 Mitsubishi Outlander

Safety

The 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander has great occupant protection—plus some above-and-beyond active-safety features.

The 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander is near the top of its class for safety, among manageably sized crossovers.

Feature-wise, it has everything you might expect—or even be willing to step up to. The Outlander includes four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, electronic stability control, and a total of seven airbags—including a new driver’s knee airbag. The side-curtain airbags have rollover sensors, and the ABS is a newer-generation unit that considers yaw inputs separately from the stability control system—useful when going from gravel to pavement, for instance.

Additionally, Mitsubishi has adapted its so-called RISE body structure to absorb more energy in the engine compartment for front impacts, while deforming less in the passenger compartment—and also absorbing more of the energy at certain paths at the floor.

The 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander is among the best-protecting vehicles of any type in Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) testing, with top 'good' results in every category, including in the new small overlap frontal test—to achieve the agency's vaunted Top Safety Pick+ status.

Federal results for the Outlander are nearly as good—with four stars for frontal impact and five stars in the side-impact category. With slight differences in the scores, that amounts to a five-star overall rating for all-wheel-drive models and four stars for those with front-wheel drive.

Several new active-safety features—ones that aren’t found on very many vehicles without a luxury badge—are now available in the Outlander. One of the is Forward Collision Mitigation, which operates in two stages (near and far) and uses 77-GHz radar—first to warn the driver of an obstacle or other vehicle up ahead, then to actually brake the vehicle to a stop is you’re moving around 20 mph or less. Adaptive Cruise Control uses that same radar system and lets you maintain one of three different following distances to the vehicle ahead. Then there’s Lane Departure Warning, which uses a windshield camera system to follow lane striping and give audible warnings above 40 mph.

All three of those features are part of the Touring Package on ES or SE models. And regardless of the trim level, all models now have Hill Start Assist, which helps maintain poise when starting out on a steep slope.

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2014 Mitsubishi Outlander

Features

Purely in terms of features for the money, the 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander is one of the strongest entries in this crowded class.

Mitsubishi was selling the Outlander on more aggressive styling and driving attributes, but it’s clearly repositioned the new 2014 model, in its new form, toward value—and offering one of the strongest sets of standard equipment for the money, among compact-to-mid-size crossovers. And if it’s three-row models you’re considering, the new 2014 Outlander is the features-for-money champ.

The 2014 Outlander is offered in ES, SE, and GT models, and we tend to think that the best value in the lineup is found in the middle SE models.

At the base ES level, the 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander includes heated side mirrors, steering-wheel audio controls, rear-seat heated ducts, automatic climate control, a multi-information display, remote keyless entry, cruise control, power accessories, and a six-speaker, 140-watt sound system. The only catch in the ES’s appeal is that there’s no standard Bluetooth, and it comes with steel wheels and plasticky-looking hubcaps—but that could be remedied with a visit to your favorite aftermarket shop, perhaps.

2014 Mitsubishi Outlander ES models add heated front seats, FAST-Key passive entry, dual-zone climate control, push-button start, a touch-screen audio system with rearview camera, FUSE HandsFreeLink, HD Radio, and a USB port. On these models, you can get the S-AWC 4WD system, or get a Premium Package (leather upholstery, power sunroof, satellite radio, power driver’s seat, power tailgate, and woodgrain finish) or a Touring Package (those features plus navigation, Adaptive Cruise Control, Forward Collision Mitigation, and Lane Departure Warning).

At the top of the line, the Outlander GT adds the V-6, with the six-speed automatic, steering-wheel paddle-shifters, and all-wheel drive, plus HID headlamps and rain-sensing wipers. The Premium and Touring packages are also offered here.

Audio systems start with the base 140-watt system in ES models—capable of displaying a limited number of character and information but sounding fine and having a simple layout with traditional volume and tuning knobs. The SE and GT get a new touch-display audio system with 6.1-inch color display. It relies on touching areas of the screen for pretty much everything—although a more intuitive layout and larger screen ‘buttons’ make it a step ahead of the systems offered in both Toyotas and Subarus. Above that, a navigation system with seven-inch touch screen is optional; it includes Eco Routing, 3D map views, and HD Radio traffic data, and can also pull up album art for audio through connected devices or inserted via an SD card.

Unlike some of the systems on the market (in the Subaru Forester, for example), the Outlander’s mechanism doesn’t allow for a memory setting (for low garage clearance). It’s packaged along the side of the cargo area, though, and out of the way of the hatch opening.

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2014 Mitsubishi Outlander

Fuel Economy

The 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander is the most fuel-efficient crossover with three rows of seating.

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.

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August 2, 2015
2014 Mitsubishi Outlander 4WD 4-Door GT

mine is a PEHV

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I bought my Outlander PEHV in December 2014 and in 5000 kilometers have used approx 60 litres of petrol, 90% of my travel is short distances and that is almost all electric. My Outlander suits me and the dog... + More »
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July 14, 2015
For 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander

Exact match between safety, comfort and economy.

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It is an electric car with a 60 kilometer pure electric range. It has an engine which kick in when battery is low. The ride is absolutely noiseless. Performance is graceful. It can carry luggage for 5 persons... + More »
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July 12, 2015
2014 Mitsubishi Outlander 4WD 4-Door GT

A good hybrid car

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we own the Outlander Phev for one year and like the car, all electric range is around 30 miles and should be doubled in order to do most driving electric , the 4 wheel drive works outstanding , the only real... + More »
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May 2, 2015
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Mitsubishi Lives

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The 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander GT is a good vehicle for the money. It's V-6 engine is great for towing a trailer and its fold down seats offer plenty of usable storage. Having owned two prior Mitsubishi... + More »
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April 20, 2015
For 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander

The PHEV is a stealthy high performer!

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For Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV This is my wife's car. It replaced a nine year old Honda Accord which had done great service as a family car. The PHEV looks a bit bland and does not seem anything special until... + More »
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February 20, 2015
For 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander

Awesome suv for the price

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Disregard most of the so called expert reviews on the new Outlander. I compared & test drove all the competition models and for the price the Outlander was a clear winner. When I insured it my insurance... + More »
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