2016 Mitsubishi Outlander: First Drive Review

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceOutlander Reboot
Many auto pundits have written off Mitsubishi, claiming the Japanese car company doesn’t have the sales or lineup to maintain business in America. But numbers for the automaker have started to turn around after renewed focus on product improvement, which is one reason Outlander is such an important vehicle for Mitsubishi. The 2016 model incorporates notable updates to features and styling, so the company hopes this fresh look will keep sales increasing. Time will tell if the changes are enough for Outlander to make inroads in the very competitive midsize SUV market, but our initial impression is that it should be able to hold its own.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceModel Lineup
The Outlander is available in four trim levels: ES, SE, SEL and GT. All Outlanders receive a fresh look for the 2016 model year – while not a dramatic change from the previous version, the changes are certainly an improvement. Updated features inclue a redesigned front fascia (heavy on the chrome), LED position lights, new rear fascia, tailgate garnish and LED taillights with red lenses. Doors also have additional trim pieces to further differentiate the 2016 from the 2015.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceWell Equipped
The ES, SE and SEL are powered by a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine, while the GT gets a 3.0-liter V6. The base-level ES starts at $22,995 and is only available with front-wheel drive. Standard equipment on the ES includes automatic climate control, a 140-watt AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system, Bluetooth hands-free connectivity, stability and traction control and 18-inch alloy wheels.

Mitsubishi Outlander15Outlander SE/SEL
The SE starts at $23,995 and upgrades the ES with heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, 6.1-inch touchscreen display, digital HD radio, a rearview camera and fog lights. Adding another $1,000 puts you in the Outlander SEL. For the additional cost you get leather trim, an 8-way power adjustable driver’s seat and black roof rails. The SE and SEL are available with Mitsubishi’s Super All-Wheel Control (S-AWC) all-wheel-drive system for an additional $2,000.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceOutlander GT
The top-of-the-line GT has a base price of $30,995 and is only available with S-AWC. The GT includes Sirius XM satellite radio, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, LED headlights, auto on/off headlights, power-folding rearview mirrors, a power glass sunroof, rain-sensing windshield wipers, silver roof rails and a 710-watt Rockford-Fosgate sound system with nine speakers and a subwoofer. While the ES, SE and SEL utilize a continuously variable transmission, the GT gets a 6-speed automatic that can be shifted via steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceUnder the Hood
Two engines are available on the 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander – both carry over from the 2015 model year. The 2.4-liter MIVEC SOHC 4-cylinder engine produces 166 horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque. This is the only powerplant available for the ES, SE and SEL, and it is teamed with a next-generation continuously variable transmission. The 4-cylinder-powered Outlander can tow up to 1,500 pounds and is rated at 25 mpg city/31 mpg hwy/27 mpg combined. The AWD Outlanders are slightly less efficient, returning 24/29/26 mpg, respectively.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceV6 Power
The GT is available exclusively with the 3.0-liter MIVEC V6 engine that produces 224 horsepower and 215 lb-ft of torque. The V6 has a 6-speed automatic transmission and delivers 20 mpg in the city, 27 mpg on the highway for a combined rating of 23 mpg. If you plan to buy an Outlander for towing, the GT is clearly the better option with a respectable max tow rating of 3,500 pounds.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceInner Space
The 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander receives a number of interior updates including a restyled steering wheel, accent trim and seating materials. We drove the SEL and GT during our press drive — both equipped with leather trim — and seats were very comfortable. The rear seat offers plenty of room and could easily fit three adults. The second row slide forward and aft and the seatbacks recline.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceEasy-Folding Rear Seats
Mitsubishi updated the split-folding rear seats with a much better design — the seat bottom rolls forward, then the seatback folds down to provide a flat cargo space. Even with the second row in place the cargo area is quite spacious. The Outlander does come with a standard third row for an additional two passengers, but Mitsubishi acknowledges the cramped quarters, referring to them as “emergency third-row seating.”

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceImproved Audio System Interface
Despite looking similar to the outgoing model, the dashboard features an improved audio interface. The touchscreen is much easier to read and use, and we’re very happy that Mitsubishi retained the volume and tuning knobs.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceOn the Road
Mitsubishi engineers updated the chassis to increase structural rigidity and also redesigned the suspension, so we took the Outlander out on some winding roads outside San Francisco to see how these improvements played out. It would be tough to quantify the exact amount of improvment over the outgoing 2015 Outlander, but the midsize crossover handled the twisting roads well for a vehicle that weighs around 3,500 pounds. Balance and handling have always been Mitsubishi strong points, so we’re glad to see the Outlander stand out in this regard.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience4-Cylinder Performance
We only drove models equipped with the S AWC, and the dry pavement on our press drive meant we could not detetmine how much advantage the all-wheel drive system provides. From a handling standpoint, the 4-cylinder SEL seemed to be a bit more agile than the heavier V6. However the lesser-powered engine combined with the CVT did not offer very good performance. With aggressive driving the CVT seemed unable to provide smooth response, and the 4-cylinder engine felt underpowered, especially when tackling steep hills or accelerating from a stop.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceDriving the V6
The V6 powerplant and traditional 6-speed automatic transmission in the GT are much more enjoyable to drive, either when pushing hard or just cruising. Although the GT does feel a bit heavier, the overall performance is much more pleasing. Unfortunately the only way to get the V6 is by purchasing the top-level GT.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceRight for You?
The Mitsubishi Outlander is a very competent 5+2 passenger crossover, and with a starting price for AWD at $25,995, it is one of the least expensive on the market. The design stands out from the crowd and the interior is spacious for both passengers and cargo. However, Outlander is somewhat underpowered compared to most of the competition — in both 4- and 6-cylinder variants. Ultimately the 7-passenger crossover market is extremely competitive, so although the Outlander offers great handling and a comfortable interior at a reasonable starting price, these may not be enough to stand out from the crowd.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceRating: 7
Pros: Comfortable Interior, good handling, easy-folding second-row seat
Cons: 4-cylinder with CVT underwhelming, tight third-row seating, expensive to get V6

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceOld vs. New
2015 Mitsubishi Outlander on the left, 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander on the right.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceOld vs. New
2015 Mitsubishi Outlander on the left, 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander on the right.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2016 Mitsubishi Outlander

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2016 Mitsubishi Outlander

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2016 Mitsubishi Outlander

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2016 Mitsubishi Outlander

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2016 Mitsubishi Outlander

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2016 Mitsubishi Outlander

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2016 Mitsubishi Outlander

Mitsubishi Outlander292016 Mitsubishi Outlander

Year=2016
Make=Mitsubishi
Model=Outlander

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