2020 Mitsubishi Outlander

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2019
The Car Connection
2019
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Martin Padgett Martin Padgett Editorial Director
August 30, 2019

Buying tip

The 2020 Mitsu Outlander is great value near the bottom of the range, so opt for the SE model as it now includes standard active safety tech.

The 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander has enough value, features, and style to make it worth considering, but not to stand out.

The 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander offers features and value that make it competitive with other family crossover SUVs, but in an overall package that’s aging and unrefined. We give it 5.8 out of 10 overall. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

For 2020, the Outlander gets a new Special Edition (SP) trim that sits between LE and SEL models and adds black styling pieces on the exterior. A new all-wheel-drive system with yaw control is standard across the range too, and active safety equipment like automatic emergency braking now comes on almost all models. There are also some feature changes such as the addition of power driver lumbar support, and a second rear-seat USB charging port.

The Outlander wears fresh styling on an old platform, making use of Mitsubishi’s now-trademark grille and big chrome accents to cut a more modern look. All models come standard with handsome black and silver 18-inch wheels, making it stand out over bargain-looking competitors. The interior is not as future-facing, with a forgettable all-black look that does at least feature plenty of knobs and buttons in a driver-centric design.

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A 2.4-liter inline-4 comes standard with 166 horsepower and a continuously variable transmission (CVT), but it’s inadequate to move a vehicle of this size with any urgency. A 3.0-liter V-6 is included with the GT trim, and with 224 hp it is significantly punchier than the inline-4, but still feels overworked under heavy acceleration. Front-wheel drive is standard while all-wheel drive is available across the range.

A plug-in hybrid model is available too, with 22 miles of all-electric range and a serious boost in fuel economy. Mileage for the non-hybrid version is around 26 mpg combined for the 4-cylinder model.

The Outlander is slightly larger than competitors like the Nissan Rogue and features a third-row seat as standard, making seating for 7 occupants possible but not particularly comfortable. Material quality is below average, however.

Both the NHTSA and IIHS give the Outlander good safety scores, though the front-wheel-drive version gets one fewer star overall than the all-wheel-drive version, a curious discrepancy that we haven’t seen many other places. With expanded standard active safety features this year for more trims, the Outlander is likely to continue the strong safety record that earned it a Top Safety Pick award from the IIHS in 2019.

5

2020 Mitsubishi Outlander

Styling

The 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander is busy from some angles, and dark and dull inside.

The 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander looks more modern than it is underneath but is busier to look at than it is pretty. With a dated and dark interior, we give it 5 out of 10 for styling overall. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Wearing the brand’s now-trademark grille, the Outlander is busy from the front, with lots of chrome and character lines on most trims. It’s best viewed from the side, where the conventional SUV shape is sleek and unadorned. We like the wide taillights too, though could do without even more chrome on the tailgate.

While the cabin is better than in past model years, it feels aged compared to the exterior, and features all-black trim that doesn’t hold up to closer inspection. Many drivers would be forgiving for mistaking the Outlander for an older vehicle from behind the wheel.

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5

2020 Mitsubishi Outlander

Performance

The 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander is comfortable and capable on the road but is let down by its anemic gas engine choices.

The 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander features two underwhelming gas engine options but does offer an impressive plug-in hybrid. We give it 5 out of 10 here, subtracting one for its gas powertrains and awarding one for its ride and handling. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Most Outlanders come standard with a 2.4-liter inline-4 that makes 166 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque. If that doesn’t sound like a lot of grunt, it’s not. The anemic engine is largely inadequate to move the 3,500-pound plus Outlander with any urgency, and the standard front-wheel drive and continuously variable transmission (CVT) don’t help much either. All-wheel drive is available on all models—it’s a new, more sophisticated system with the ability to move power around to help traction in corners.

Top-tier GT models get a 3.0-liter V-6 as standard with an improved 224 hp and 215 lb-ft, but despite the extra power, the V-6 still feels sluggish compared to competitors. It does offer impressive fuel economy for having two extra cylinders, however.

A plug-in hybrid model is unique among its competitive set and features 22 miles of electric-only range on a full charge, not to mention a serious boost to fuel economy.

Despite the sluggish powertrain options, the Outlander has reasonably sharp and precise handling, as well as a comfortable ride for longer distances and rougher roads.

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2020 Mitsubishi Outlander

Comfort & Quality

The 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander is a fine family SUV that pays less attention to the details than competitors.

The 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander is practical and comfortable but lacks the fit and finish of rivals. We give it 7 out of 10 for comfort and quality. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

For those seeking seating for seven without stepping up to a mid-size or large crossover SUV, the Outlander is in a class of very few. The third-row seat is only suitable for children in most circumstances, but the rest of the Outlander’s seats are plenty comfortable for adults in both the front and middle rows.

Cargo space is admirable too thanks to a tall roofline that resists the temptation to slope like so many others, and though only 10.3 cubic feet are available behind the third row, that figure grows to 34.2 and 63.3 cubes with the third and second rows folded flat, respectively.

Material quality is below average, however, with hard and thin plastics that don’t pass the knock test as well as rivals, and the piano black trim collects fingerprints like the FBI.

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2020 Mitsubishi Outlander

Safety

The 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander features good crash test scores and expanded active safety features this year.

The 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander has a mostly positive but complicated safety record that is improved this year with the addition of standard active safety tech on most trims. That warrants 7 out of 10 here. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Last year, the Outlander earned a Top Safety Pick award from the IIHS for universally “Good” crash test scores minus the sub-par headlight ratings for all trims. The NHTSA gives the 2020 model four stars overall for the front-wheel-drive model for some reason, but five stars for AWD-equipped Outlanders.

Though only available as an option on higher trims in previous years, Mitsubishi has added automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane-departure warnings, and automatic high beam headlights as standard on the SE trim and up, meaning every model but the base ES. That’s a smart move in our book, and makes cheaper Outlanders an even better value for 2020.

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2020 Mitsubishi Outlander

Features

The 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander is better when you spend less money on it.

The 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander is a value-oriented crossover SUV option that is best in lower-trim forms. With expanded active safety tech this year, we give it 6 out of 10 for features. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Outlander models include ES, SE, LE, a new SP (Special Edition), SEL, and GT trims, which range from around $25,000 to over $34,000. We say spend as little as possible while still getting plenty of features, which is best accomplished by choosing the SE AWD model now that it includes standard active safety features.

As included, ES models get three rows of seats, a 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Bluetooth phone and audio, cloth upholstery, and 18-inch alloy wheels among other features. That’s all well and good, but the SE model adds Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality to the infotainment system, keyless ignition, heated front seats, and available all-wheel drive for just $1,000 more. SE models and above now feature active safety features like automatic emergency braking and automatic high-beam headlights as standard too, making it an even better deal.

Stepping right up to the LE model adds a power sunroof, black alloy wheels, and a black headliner and pillars, while the new SP option includes blacked-out exterior details for a sleeker look.

The SEL model includes leather upholstery, power-folding side mirrors, and a remote power tailgate among other power features, and the top-tier GT model gets everything in the book, including standard all-wheel drive and V-6 power, as well as a multi-view camera system and premium audio. For over $34,000 all-in however, the GT’s no bargain; lower-trim vehicles are a better deal despite the GT’s bump in power.

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5

2020 Mitsubishi Outlander

Fuel Economy

The 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander is reasonably efficient to make up for a lack of power, helped even more by the plug-in hybrid option.

The 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander makes up for its lack of power with decent fuel economy for a vehicle this size. The plug-in hybrid model provides a much-needed efficiency boost too, so we give it 5 out of 10 here. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

For 2020, front-wheel-drive 4-cylinder Outlanders get 25 mpg city, 30 highway, 27 combined, while all-wheel drive drops those figures slightly to 24/29/26 mpg. The V-6 GT manages 20/27/22 mpg with its standard all-wheel-drive.

The plug-in hybrid has been rated with a 74-MPGe rating and 22 all-electric miles on a full charge. Its gas mileage is just 25 mpg without battery help.

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5.8
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 5
Performance 5
Comfort & Quality 7
Safety 7
Features 6
Fuel Economy 5
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