2017 Mitsubishi Outlander

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Kirk Bell Kirk Bell Senior Editor
June 26, 2017

Buying tip

If active safety features are high in your wish list, you'll have to go for the SEL or GT. That puts your price of entry around $30,000.

features & specs

ES FWD
ES S-AWC
GT S-AWC
MPG
25 city / 30 hwy
MPG
24 city / 29 hwy
MPG
20 city / 27 hwy
MSRP
$23,495
MSRP
$24,995
MSRP
$31,695

The 2017 Mitsubishi Outlander provides functional family appeal for a reasonable price, but the powertrains are weak, the third-row seat space is tiny, and the infotainment features are behind the times.

The Outlander is one of the smallest crossovers on the market with a third-row seat. That fits into its mission of offering the traits value-minded families want: efficiency, comfort, and space for up to seven, even if that third-row seat is small. Buyers can opt for 4-cylinder ES, SE, and SEL models, as well as the V-6 GT, each with front- or all-wheel drive.

This generation of the Outlander made its debut for the 2014 model year, then Mitsubishi gave it a major overhaul for 2016, changing the styling, improving the interior materials, adding more sound deadener, and updating the transmission. Changes for 2017 start with the addition of a new, more basic all-wheel-drive system on the base model. Interior updates include a 12-volt power outlet in the cargo area, front courtesy floor lamps, knit fabric sun visors, and a new center console design with a gloss black finish. The radio adds Apple Car Play and Android Auto. New safety features are added, including blind spot monitors, lane change assist, rear cross traffic alerts, and the addition of pedestrian detection to the forward collision warning system. Buyers can also now get a heated steering wheel, a multi-view camera system, and automatic high beams.

The Outlander earns a respectable 6.5 overall on our scale. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

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Styling and performance

Mitsubishi says the Outlander's so-called "Dynamic Shield" styling is derived from the look of the bumper-side protection that’s been put on generations of the Montero SUV. That design is highlighted by chrome trim with a shape that some say looks like fangs. Other bits of chrome trim are found on the sides and at the back, where the trim's shape echoes the front grille. All said, the look is a bit awkward, and not as sporty as the design of the 2014 and 2015 models. Inside, the Outlander feels spare and understated, though it's rather warm, modest, and accommodating.

Driving enjoyment isn't much of a priority in the Outlander. It's quite soft and detached from the road—but quiet, comfortable, and well-mannered in the vast majority of real world road environments.

Two all-wheel-drive systems are offered this year. The base ES model is now available with a simpler system that has a locking center differential. Standard on the GT and optional on the other models is a system with an electronically controlled center coupling, an open rear differential, and an active front differential, but no low range.

Engine choices are not impressive. The base engine is a 166-horsepower, 2.4-liter inline-4. It is paired with a continuously variable automatic transmission. While the CVT follows a logic that holds some ratios while accelerating, it’s indecisive on long grades and barely adequate for this seven-passenger vehicle.

The GT model features a 224-hp, 3.0-liter V-6, but it isn't much faster. It accelerates from o to 60 mph in about 8.0 seconds, which is a disappointment in today’s market. It does upgrade towing capacity to 3,500 pounds (vs. 1,500) and it sounds good, but it also asks for premium fuel.

The EPA rates the Mitsubishi Outlander at 25 mpg city, 30 highway, 27 combined for the 4-cylinder with front-wheel drive, while all-wheel drive models with that engine get 24/29/26 mpg. The GT, with its V-6 and all-wheel drive, doesn’t do quite as well, with an EPA-rated 20/27/23 mpg.

Safety and features

The Outlander gets top results in every category of the IIHS tests, to achieve the insurance industry agency's Top Safety Pick+ status. Government tests aren't quite as good, with four stars overall for front-drive models and five five stars with AWD. Those ratings are backed by a healthy set of active safety features that include forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking (and now pedestrian detection), lane-departure warnings, and adaptive cruise control. For 2017, Mitsubishi offers blind spot monitors, lane change assist, and rear cross traffic alerts. Also new is a surround-view camera system.

Mitsubishi has positioned the Outlander with value in mind. We tend to think that the best value in the lineup is found in the middle SE or SEL models, the latter available with many of those  active safety features. Even the base ES model includes things like dual-zone automatic climate control, remote keyless entry, cruise control, steering-wheel audio controls, full power accessories, Bluetooth, alloy wheels, and a six-speaker, 140-watt audio system. Leather upholstery is included in the SEL, and well-optioned SELs and GTs get a sunroof, a remote power liftgate, and Rockford Fosgate Audio with satellite radio. 

5

2017 Mitsubishi Outlander

Styling

The 2017 Mitsubishi Outlander's exterior sits somewhere between generic and awkward, though the chrome trim provides an upscale touch.

Mitsubishi introduced the new Outlander for the 2014 model year, then gave it a new look again for 2016. The so-called "Dynamic Shield" styling is, according to Mitsubishi, derived from the look of the bumper-side protection that’s been on generations of the Montero SUV.

In front, especially, that involves some chrome (a “chrome-fanged look," we’ve heard it described as) that gives it an bit of an upscale appearance yet looks a bit awkward. Those chrome fangs bracket a black center section, the headlights, and a two-slat chrome grille. Mitsubishi says that the Outlander doesn’t have a bad angle, but we'd say the front end is it.

In total, the Outlander is merely average for the class. It earns a 5 out of 10 on our styling scale. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

In profile, the look works very well, with chrome lower moldings that play off the front end. At the rear, there is chrome trim on the bumper and another single piece up high with a shape that echoes those two front grille slats.

Inside, the Outlander is highly functional yet not particularly eye-catching or harmonious. "Simple" is the word to describe the rather low-set instrument panel, which some may see as too plain and others may find refreshingly straightforward. There aren’t a lot of buttons, and the layout and trims are spare, but not unattractive. At a time when almost every mainstream vehicle 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.

Last year, Mitsubishi touched up the cabin in all sorts of detail-oriented ways: The old mouse-fur headliner was replaced by a "knit" material, the instrument cluster received contrast stitching, the leather-trimmed steering wheel added accents, the center console got more padding, the seat fabric was improved, and new accent panels were added. These changes brought the interior quality up to a respectable level.

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5

2017 Mitsubishi Outlander

Performance

The 2017 Mitsubishi Outlander is a capable family hauler, but don't expect it to be peppy or to offer much driver engagement.

Mitsubishi worked to improve the ride and handling last year, reinforcing the front suspension crossmember, changing the spring rates, and tuning the shocks to match. The result is a vehicle that is still far from sporty but is fairly comfortable on the street.

There’s an electric power steering system that’s precise, and rather firm (and perhaps a little too aggressively centered), considering the mission. Yet overall this is a confidence-inspiring, easy-driving crossover.

What we give for a good steering system, we're eager to take away in a slow transmission and under-powered motor. The Outlander earns a 4 out of 10 on our performance scale. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

You get front-wheel drive or a new basic all-wheel-drive system in the Outlander ES, while the SE and SEL are offered with a more advanced all-wheel drive and the GT comes standard with it. The ES's AWD system comes with 2WD, 4WD, and Lock modes (the latter a locking center differential). In the other models you get an electronically controlled center coupling, combined with an open rear differential. This system also has a separate active front differential to help get the right torque split for the conditions, which helps power through some exceptional conditions, like when one wheel is on ice.

The Outlander does have off-road ability—more so than most other models in this class. Its all-wheel drive system and suspension are fully up to the task of heading up most rugged gravel roads or two-tracks on the way to a trailhead.

Most of the 2017 Mitsubishi Outlander lineup remains powered by a 166-horsepower, 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine that doesn't provide a lot of motivation for a 3,500-pound vehicle. It sends its power through a continuously variable transmission (CVT).

This so-called "CVT8" unit was updated last year. Its total ratio span is 7:1, as opposed to 6:1 in the previous unit, which means that it has a lower ratio for better standing-start launches, as well as reduced revs in highway cruising. Mitsubishi has worked on making this unit more responsive and quicker to adjust the ratio for a "downshift" when passing, and the CVT aims to reduce some of the motorboating feel that accompanies some of these transmissions by holding onto ratios for a short time during acceleration. The net effect is that it while it seems at ease and effective in level, lower-speed use, it hunts around quite a bit on hills.

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 6-speed automatic spice up the driving experience a bit, though.

Aside from a bit more power, there’s one other advantage to the Outlander GT: It can tow up to 3,500 pounds (versus 1,500 pounds for the other models).

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7

2017 Mitsubishi Outlander

Comfort & Quality

Quiet, comfortable, and fairly spacious, the 2017 Mitsubishi Outlander's interior works great for family duty.

After a rough beginning with its 2014 redesign, Mitsubishi gave the Outlander an overhaul for 2016 that included an improved interior. The cabin materials and trims were revamped, the noise insulation was improved, and the seat-folding arrangement for the second row was redesigned. At the same time, Mitsubishi preserved the good elements, like the flat-folding seats and a very low cargo floor.

As a result of those changes, the interior materials are on par with what you’ll find in some of the better interiors in this class, including models like the Jeep Cherokee and Ford Escape. The cabin is also one of the quietest in this class.

In terms of space, the Outlander is a comfortable vehicle for first- and second-row passengers, with the added value of a third row on every trim.

We give points for the first and second row, but that third row isn't convenient. The Outlander earns a 7 out of 10 for comfort on our scale. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

While the Outlander is within a few inches of the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, and Subaru Forester, it feels somewhat roomier inside. The front seats are supportive with lower cushions just long enough for taller folks, plus a great driving position. Unlike many crossovers in this class, the second row doesn’t feel flat and hard, and it’s comfortable enough for adults.

As one of the most compact models with three rows of seating on the market, the Outlander performs no spacial magic. Getting into that third row is something only kids will want to 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.

The second-row seats fold in a three-step process: Flip the headrests forward first (no need to stow them), lift the lower cushion and stash it against the rear of the front seat in a second motion, and finally flip the second-row seatbacks forward. You can’t slide the second row fore and aft, as you can with some other three-row models. Both the second and third rows fold perfectly flat, creating a very useful cargo floor. The cargo lift-over height is low, too, and there are small side boxes just aft of the wheelwells plus an underfloor storage compartment sized to keep items like a laptop bag out of sight.

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2017 Mitsubishi Outlander

Safety

Good, but not great, safety ratings are backed by plenty of available active safety features.

The standard safety kit for the 2017 Mitsubishi Outlander features seven airbags, including a a driver’s knee airbag. The side-curtain airbags have rollover sensors but don’t extend to the third row.

The Outlander can be optioned with a long list of active safety items, including lane-departure warnings, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warnings with automatic emergency braking and—new for 2017—pedestrian detection. Those items can all be had together on the mid-range SEL, as can three new features: blind spot monitors, lane change assist, and rear cross traffic alerts.

The 2017 Mitsubishi Outlander gets good, but not perfect, safety ratings. In has earned top "Good" results in every category from the IIHS, including the notoriously difficult small overlap frontal crash test. It earned the agency's vaunted Top Safety Pick+ status.

Federal results for the Outlander aren't quite as good, with four stars (out of five) overall with front-wheel drive and five stars with AWD. All models get five stars for side impacts, four stars for rollover, and four stars for frontal impacts.

Good ratings from both agencies warrant an 8 out of 10 on our safety scale. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

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2017 Mitsubishi Outlander

Features

The Outlander's value signals are mixed, as the SE and SEL are reasonably priced, but the V-6-powered GT model dents the pocketbook.

The 2017 Mitsubishi Outlander is offered in ES, SE, SEL, and GT trim levels.

The ES is a modestly equipped base model, available with front-wheel drive or a new all-wheel-drive system. The the top GT can only be had with the V-6 and all-wheel drive. In between, the SE and SEL models constitute the bulk of the lineup, and offer the best combination of features and value for the dollar.

Standard features of the ES model include 60/40-split folding second-row seats; 50/50-split third-row seats; dual-zone automatic climate control; keyless ignition; steering-wheel audio controls; power locks, windows, and mirrors; underfloor rear storage; rain-sensing wipers; a leather-wrapped steering-wheel and shift knob; three 12-volt power outlets; a USB port; Bluetooth; a 6.1-inch touchscreen radio with six speakers, 140 watts, and HD radio; a rearview camera; and 18-inch alloy wheels.

Those base features, along with a generous infotainment screen, earn the Outlander a 7 out of 10 on our features scale. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

This year the SE model adds satellite radio, Apple Car Play, and Android Auto. It also comes with fog lamps, heated seats, and high-contrast instruments.

The SEL gets leather upholstery, a power driver’s seat, power-folding mirrors, roof rails, gloss-black interior trim, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and a universal garage door opener.

On the SEL, you can add a couple value-oriented option packages. A Premium package includes blind spot monitors, lane change assist, rear cross traffic alerts, a 710-watt Rockford Fosgate audio system with nine speakers, a sunroof, and a power remote liftgate. An SEL Touring package includes those features plus a multi-view camera system, automatic high beams, LED headlights, and a heated steering wheel.

At the GT level, the V-6 is included, as are the 710-watt, nine-speaker Rockford Fosgate audio system, the heated steering wheel, automatic LED headlights, LED fog lights, and the remote power liftgate. The GT Touring package adds the multi-view camera system, forward collision warning with emergency braking and pedestrian detection, lane-departure warnings, and adaptive cruise control. That brings the top end of the Outlander, all said, over the $35,000 mark.

Also offered are a rear-seat DVD player, remote engine starting, and additional cargo solutions.

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2017 Mitsubishi Outlander

Fuel Economy

With the 4-cylinder, the 2017 Mitsubishi Outlander is fairly efficient for a three-row SUV, but the V-6 is average at best.

Stick with the inline-4 engine, and the Mitsubishi Outlander is quite efficient.

Across the lineup, you get an Eco Mode button, which runs the system as a front-wheel drive vehicle until there’s actual slip of the front wheels. With either engine, Eco Mode also softens throttle response and uses the air conditioning compressor more conservatively.

The EPA rates the Mitsubishi Outlander at 25 mpg city, 30 highway, 27 combined for the 4-cylinder with front-wheel drive, while all-wheel drive models with that engine are rated at 24/29/26 mpg. For 4-cylinder models, that actually ranks them among the highest-mileage vehicles with third-row seating.

Those figures are good enough for a 7 out of 10 rating on our fuel economy scale. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The GT, with its V-6 and all-wheel drive, doesn’t do quite as well, with an EPA-rated 20/27/23 mpg. It’s worth noting that premium gasoline is recommended for the V-6. As with many engines designed for premium, you might see lower real-world mileage when you run it on regular.

In a drive of 2016 models that took us on some fast-moving, hilly, and curvy backroads, we managed fuel economy averages that were within 1 mpg of each other in 4-cylinder and V-6 models—both with all-wheel drive. Consider the 21 and 20 mpg numbers we saw to be a worst-case scenario, and we suspect that in light-throttle driving the 4-cylinder models could do much better.

The much-awaited Outlander PHEV (plug-in hybrid) has been pushed back to the summer of 2017, likely as a 2018 model. It will provide both all-wheel drive and the capability to function as a series or parallel hybrid, depending on which is most efficient at the time. The system combines a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine with two 60-kw motors. It will have an electric-only range of more than 30 miles with a full charge, and charging it completely will take about 4.5 hours on a 240-volts outlet.

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6.5
Overall
Expert Rating
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Styling 5
Performance 5
Comfort & Quality 7
Safety 8
Features 7
Fuel Economy 7
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