Mitsubishi's first Outlander unwittingly lived up to its name, operating on the fringes of mainstream SUVdom, largely failing to cross-over to the widespread success of competitors like Ford's Escape and Honda's CR-V. It wasn't that it was a horrible vehicle, but it didn't offer much in the way of Unique Selling Points (USPs), save its love/hate front clip. But judging by our first exposure to the new-for-2007 iteration, the Outlander's luck may be about to change.

Significantly larger and more powerful than the first-generation model, the Outlander has undergone a Toyota RAV4-esque plus sizing. It now offers more interior room, including an optional flip up third-row. There's reason to hope that it will be a good handler, as well. Based on new architecture that will underpin the next-generation Lancer (and more importantly for enthusiasts, the coming Evolution), the Outlander rides on a longer wheelbase and a wider track, and uniquely, makes use of an aluminum roof to lower its center of gravity.

(Dozens of photos, original commentary full press releases and specs after the jump!)

Power arrives via a standard-fit 3.0-liter variable-valve-timing V6 that brings 220 horsepower and 204 ft.-lbs. of torque to the party via a drive-by-wire throttle. No four-cylinder will be offered. A six-speed Sportronic automatic transmission is also standard, with manual gear override. In LS trim, this means cogswapping can be manually effected by a tipshifter feature on the floor-mounted gear selector. Uplevel XLS models get segment-first paddle shifters.

Standard features (including on FWD models) include skid and traction control supervision, anti-lock brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution, 'FAST-key' keyless entry and ignition, a 140-watt stereo with compact disc and MP3 capability, and... wait for it... an 'odor-defeating headliner.'

The available all-wheel-drive system is interesting as well-- it offers variable drivetrain modes via a center console dial, allowing drivers to select front-wheel drive (to enhance fuel economy), "4WD Auto" that sends a limited amount of power to the rear wheels, increasing the transfer under hard acceleration. There's also a "4WD Lock" mode that enables more power to go to the rear wheels for tough running conditions like snow and mud. As interesting as the system sounds, we have to wonder if most people wouldn't just prefer a well-judged fully automatic setup, and question whether most won't just put it in one setting and leave it there.

Options of note include a hard-drive based satellite navigation system that allows owners to load 10 gigs worth of music files, rear-seat DVD with wireless headphones, Bluetooth compatibility and an optional Rockford-Fosgate 650-watt stereo with Sirius satellite radio.

All of the Outlander's unique technological features (the 'dial-a-drivetrain' knob, hard-drive based nav/music system, keyless entry/start, paddle shifters, and of course the Odor Eater head liner) remind us of what used to make Mitsubishis of yore so interesting (if a bit gimmicky, wacky and overwrought). Remember the 3000GT VR-4? It had active everything, right down to a tuneable exhaust note. Likewise, the oddball Diamante luxury sedan was once known for motorizing every available function beyond reason. In a way, this is a return-to-form, away from the staid Lancers and now me-too Eclipse.

Potential potholes on the Outlander's road to success? Well, beyond Mitsubishi's well-publicized quality control issues, the Outlander's styling isn't for everyone - equal parts Nissan Murano (front clip) and Lexus RX (rear end), it is slipperier-appearing than most of its competition, more hatchback/sport wagon than rough-and-tumble SUV. We happen to like it, but it isn't likely as likely to appeal to a wide audience as something a bit more middle-of-the-road, like, say, the Escape or CR-V. Other gripes? The interior feels a bit plasticky, and (at least in gray), a bit plain... though the latter criticism could be leveled at most vehicles in this segment. The unique rear hatch employs a demi tailgate, a design that will likely win some fans over while alienating others. Oh-- and the optional extra seating capacity? Calling it a third row would be something of a misnomer. More accurately, they’re jump seats-- strictly (small) kids stuff, best suited for very occasional use - not only due to available space, but the lack of padding and general comfort afforded by the seat itself.

Will Mitsubishi be able to get out of its funk and celebrate its 25th Anniversary by climbing to profitability? Here's hoping.

Official Images:

Next-Generation 2007 Mitsubishi Outlander Introduces Some Of The Biggest New Ideas In Flexibility The Compact Sport-Utility Vehicle Segment
 
April 12, 2006 -- NEW YORK -- Larger in every respect than the first-generation Outlander it replaces, but still with agile compact dimensions, the 2007 Mitsubishi Outlander offers 5- or 7-seat flexibility, clever cargo area packaging and the segment's first flap-fold tailgate. The new Outlander cleverly melds bold, sporty design with impressive room and utility.

Mitsubishi infused the 2007 Outlander design with sport sedan attitude, highlighted by clean, sharp lines, featuring a "diamond cut" front end and boldly sculpted fender flares. The sporty design DNA is carried inside, where the deeply contoured front bucket seats and motorcycle-style instrument panel gauges suggest "sports car" more than sport-utility.

"With its all-new platform and innovative engineering, the 2007 Mitsubishi Outlander provides roominess, utility and flexibility that belie the term 'compact,'" said Dan Sims, general manager, Mitsubishi R&D America, Design Center. "You can expect to see this kind of advanced thinking in all our future products."

The 2007 Outlander offers ample room for five, or seven with an underfloor-stowable compact third row seat (XLS models) that folds flat into the floor when not needed. Five-seat models feature an under-floor storage compartment. The second-row seat features 60/40 split fold-and-tumble seats to balance customers' needs for utility, passenger room and comfort. All models feature as standard premium fabric seats with a combination of suede-style knit and sporty mesh.

The second-row seat features both a 60/40 split seatback and a 60/40 split seat cushion. The seat cushions independently provide three inches of fore/aft travel, allowing the customer to maximize passenger room or cargo room as needed. In addition, the seatbacks also recline a few inches independently, allowing second-row passengers to tailor their own comfort. To expand cargo capacity and provide a flat load floor, the second-row seat backs fold forward and then the seats can be tumbled forward into the foot well.

The outer second-row seats include the LATCH system (Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren), with anchors on the seats rather than the body, enabling the customer to slide the second-row seat holding the child seat to the preferred position.

Expansive Inner Space with Unique Flap-Fold Tailgate

The 2007 Outlander is longer, taller and wider than the model it replaces, with a longer wheelbase (105.1 in. vs. 103.3 in.) that contributes to the second-row legroom. A wider track, in addition to aiding in vehicle stability, also helps to increase hiproom. Careful attention to packaging the multi-link rear suspension, the fuel tank and spare tire enabled Mitsubishi to give the 2007 Outlander a lower cargo floor than in the previous model.

The cargo area is longer and taller than before (with seats folded), and a little over an inch wider. The 2007 Outlander will carry two bicycles inside with their front wheels removed. Rear utility bars (standard on XLS and available for LS) built into the cargo area side walls and four tie-down hooks make it easy to secure large items or bicycles. The utility bars can serve as assist grips when passengers are using the third-row jump seat.

Taking advantage of the low load floor inspired the segment's first flap-fold rear tailgate. Mitsubishi rejected current designs for split tailgates, such as those with separately opening rear glass, because in real-world use, many customers found it inconvenient to lift even some small packages off the ground and through the open glass.

With the Outlander's unique flap-fold tailgate, many customers will find it easy to load packages just by opening the larger upper section. With the upper section open, the smaller lower section then lowers with the push of a small lever, and packages can be more easily lifted to the lower height (just under 24 inches). As the bottom section of the tailgate is lowered, an integral flap slides into place, providing a flat, uninterrupted surface on which it is easy to slide packages into the cargo area. As an additional benefit, when lowered, the flap-fold tailgate can also function as a seat for outdoor activities, with a generous capacity of 440 lbs.

Of special note, the 2007 Outlander's efficient packaging includes under-floor storage of the spare tire. Powered exclusively by a new 220 hp 3.0-liter V-6 engine teamed to a 6-speed Sportronic(R) automatic transmission, the 2007 Outlander can tow a trailer up to 2,000 lbs. as standard and up to 3,500 lbs. with the available towing package.

No Space Left Unused

Augmenting its generous passenger and cargo room, the 2007 Outlander interior also provides numerous storage spaces and features. Starting up front, a dashboard center storage compartment opens with a push of its lid and will hold small items. The large, two-tier glove box is illuminated and lockable and features a card and pen holder in the lower tier. An upper compartment in the head liner stores a pair of sunglasses.

The center console is itself a study in versatility. Its integral armrest features soft padding and can slide 2.5 inches fore/aft to adjust for optimal comfort. Lifting the armrest reveals a tray for a cell phone or other small items. A larger compartment under that tray will hold up to 10 CDs and also houses a 12V accessory power socket. A slot in the tray and armrest provides a pass-through for a power cable. Finally, the underside of the armrest integrates a pocket tissue holder.

Front and rear doors all feature integrated bottle holders that will hold 16-oz. bottles. The center console provides two more cup holders, and there is a slide-out cup holder on each side of the dashboard. A fold-down armrest in the second-row seats features integrated bottle holders.
The designers used every bit of interior space possible. There is a small storage compartment at the top of each wheelhouse, plus a hidden compartment in the right side wall that also houses a 12V accessory power socket. A tonneau cover, standard on XLS models and available on LS models, keeps valuables out of sight.

Odor-Defeating Head Liner

The 2007 Outlander introduces a unique new feature that's sure to enhance the long-term ownership experience: an odor-defeating head liner. The head liner absorbs cigarette smoke odor and decomposes it into water and carbon dioxide. It also absorbs and decomposes formaldehyde. Because the head liner uses catalysis, there is no need to replace it, as you would a filter. To further reduce odors, Mitsubishi also eliminated adhesives and used phenol-free felt in the assembly of interior parts.

Generous standard equipment in Outlander LS includes air conditioning; ambient lighting; cruise control; power windows, locks and mirrors; engine immobilizer and anti-theft alarm system; keyless entry, and a powerful audio system with AM/FM/CD/MP3 playback capability and six speakers. Outlander XLS models add the underfloor-stowable compact third row seat; automatic climate control system; steering wheel audio remote control switches, and hands-free Bluetooth(R) cellular phone interface system with voice recognition. The available XLS Luxury Package augments interior comfort with leather seating surfaces (front and second rows), heated front seats and a power-adjustable driver's seat.

Premium Warranty

Mitsubishi cars and light trucks are backed by a comprehensive new-vehicle limited warranty that covers the vehicle from bumper to bumper for five years/60,000 miles. In addition, the powertrain is covered by a 10-year/100,000 mile limited warranty, while body panels have a seven-year/100,000 mile anti-corrosion/perforation limited warranty.

The program also includes 24-hour emergency roadside assistance with free towing to the nearest authorized Mitsubishi retailer for warranty-related repairs for five years/unlimited miles.

Technical data, features, options and other equipment listed in this release are based on the latest information available at the time of printing and are subject to change without notice.

Mitsubishi Motors North America, Inc., (MMNA) is responsible for all manufacturing, finance, sales, marketing and research and development operations of the Mitsubishi Motors Corporation in the United States. Mitsubishi Motors sells coupes, convertibles, sedans, a mid-size pickup truck and sport utility vehicles through a network of approximately 540 dealers.

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2007 Mitsubishi Outlander Brings Sport Sedan Dynamics To Compact Sport-Utility Vehicle Segment; Performance Credentials Include 220 Hp V-6, 6-Speed Sportronic(R) Transmission And Aluminum Roof
 
 
April 12, 2006 -- NEW YORK -- Mitsubishi designed its second-generation 2007 Outlander compact sport-utility vehicle to surprise and delight the driver with handling dynamics, stability and a level of driver engagement that are uncommon in the segment. The 2007 Outlander is based on a new global performance-engineered platform that will also form the foundation for the next-generation Mitsubishi Lancer and Lancer Evolution models.

All Outlander models for 2007 will be powered exclusively by a new 220 hp aluminum V-6 engine, helping it stand out in a segment where most vehicles offer 4-cylinder engines as standard. The California-emissions V-6 will be the first in the compact SUV segment to be P-ZEV certified The new V-6 is teamed to a 6-speed Sportronic(R) automatic transmission, with a sport mode that enables manual shifting using the floor console shift handle or a feature more commonly seen on exotic sports cars, and a first for the compact SUV segment: available magnesium Sportronic steering wheel paddle shifters.

Each of the two trim lines offered for the 2007 Outlander, the well equipped LS and the sport/luxury XLS, will be available with standard front-wheel drive or with available electronically controlled 4-wheel drive system -- All-Wheel Control (AWC). Mitsubishi's All-Wheel Control philosophy for Outlander combines electronically controlled 4-wheel drive with Active Skid and Traction Control and a tuned suspension, plus an aluminum roof that lowers the center of gravity for better handling response.

"The 2007 Outlander draws on the strong Mitsubishi performance heritage and its 'Driven-to-Thrill' mandate to give the compact SUV customer a new level of driving enjoyment," said Dan Sims, general manager, Mitsubishi R&D America, Design Center. "Even more than its impressive list of performance features might suggest, the 2007 Outlander is a supremely well balanced package."

Even the interior design contributes to the Outlander's performance character, with deeply contoured front bucket seats and motorcycle-style instrument panel gauges that suggest "sports car" more than sport-utility.

Sport-Tuned Platform (and Attitude)

The engineering that went into making the 2007 Outlander a driver's SUV reflects Mitsubishi's renowned motorsports expertise. Mitsubishi recently scored its sixth consecutive win in the Paris-to-Dakar off-road endurance race in a special competition-built Montero SUV.

The 2007 Outlander is built around Mitsubishi's next-generation Reinforced Impact Safety Evolution (RISE) unibody design. The highly rigid structure, which makes extensive use of high-strength steel, allows for sport-oriented suspension tuning while also providing a smooth, compliant ride. The front suspension employs strut tower bars to enhance lateral rigidity for precise steering response. The rear multilink suspension provides an excellent balance of handling performance and ride comfort.

The 2007 Outlander's aluminum roof removes 11 pounds compared to a conventional steel roof, and is three times more effective at lowering a vehicle's center of gravity than other aluminum panels, such as an engine hood, would be. A lower center of gravity plays a major role in reducing body roll in handling maneuvers and enhancing steering response; the aluminum roof achieves these goals without affecting ride quality, as stiffer suspension would.

A longer wheelbase (105.1 in. vs. 103.3 in. for current Outlander) and wider track - in conjunction with the aluminum roof - contribute to enhanced stability in the 2007 Outlander.

The Outlander LS models feature standard 16-in. steel wheels with 215/70 R16 tires, with alloy wheels available as an option. On Outlander XLS models, standard 18-in. aluminum-alloy wheels with 225/55 R18 all-season tires further enhance handling response.

The standard 4-wheel disc anti-lock braking system (ABS) integrates electronic brake-force distribution (EBD), which automatically adjusts front/rear brake proportioning based on vehicle load. The standard tire-pressure monitoring system alerts the driver to inadequate tire pressure, which can lead to a potentially hazardous driving condition.

All-New 220 hp MIVEC V-6

The 2007 Outlander's all-new 3.0-liter SOHC V-6 engine uses aluminum for its cylinder block, cylinder heads, and oil pan. The new 4-valve-per-cylinder V-6 produces 220 hp at 6,250 rpm and 204 lb.-ft. of peak torque at 4,000 rpm, with nearly 90 percent of peak torque available from just 2,000 rpm. Combined with the optimized ratios of the 6-speed transmission, this performance curve gives the new Outlander outstanding response in all driving situations.

The Mitsubishi Innovative Valve-timing Electronic Control (MIVEC) system controls valve timing and lift to optimize performance at all engine speeds. Despite its technical sophistication, the system's basic operation can be expressed quite simply: In the new V-6, MIVEC alters intake camshaft phasing, tailoring engine performance in response to driver input and engine load.

With MIVEC, the phase changes occur automatically at certain engine speeds. At lower engine speeds, MIVEC operates with what is effectively a smaller cam profile that yields medium lift on the valves to provide stable combustion and lower emissions. When engine speed reaches the switchover point, MIVEC gives the intake valves a longer duration and higher lift to maximize power. MIVEC operation is transparent to the driver, who is simply rewarded with a smooth flow of power.

A sophisticated electronically controlled multi-point fuel injection system ensures precision fuel delivery. The electronic throttle control system (throttle-by-wire) eliminates the mechanical linkage between the accelerator pedal and the throttle plate.

6-Speed Sportronic Transmission and All-Wheel Control (AWC)

The 2007 Outlander V-6 is teamed exclusively with a 6-speed Sportronic automatic transmission with sport mode that enables manual shifting. In LS models, the driver can shift manually with the floor console shifter; Outlander XLS models also feature magnesium Sportronic steering wheel paddle shifters. The driver tugs on the right paddle shifter for upshifts and the left paddle shifter for downshifts. The Sportronic steering wheel paddle shifters are always in optimum position, regardless of steering wheel angle, and the transmission allows paddle shifting even when in "D" mode.

The 2007 Outlander will give the customer a wide choice among vehicle drive modes. Standard front-wheel drive is augmented by the Active Skid and Traction Control system, which includes traction control for better grip on slippery surfaces.

Where some compact SUVs offer 4-wheel drive systems as adjunct features, Mitsubishi applies its All-Wheel Control philosophy to give the 2007 Outlander confident handling capability under the widest variety of driving conditions. This option integrates driver-configurable, electronically controlled 4-wheel drive system with the Active Skid and Traction Control system.

Using a drive-mode dial on the center console, the driver can select "FWD" for best fuel economy; with "4WD Auto" mode selected, the system uses an electronically controlled transfer clutch to automatically and seamlessly route more power to the rear wheels, depending on driving and road surface conditions. The system always sends some power to the rear wheels, and it will automatically increase power at the rear wheels under full-throttle acceleration.

For particularly challenging driving conditions, such as snow, the driver can select "4WD Lock" mode. In this mode, the system still apportions front and rear torque automatically, but enables greater power transfer to the rear wheels.

The transfer system case is made from aluminum and located near the rear differential for optimal weight distribution.

Under all driving modes, the Active Skid and Traction Control system is on and working to help keep the Outlander traveling in the direction the driver is steering. Taking sensor input from the engine's electronic control unit (ECU), wheel speed sensors and a yaw sensor, the ASC system can regulate torque and braking to individual wheels to help maintain vehicle stability.

Premium Warranty

Mitsubishi cars and light trucks are backed by a comprehensive new-vehicle limited warranty that covers the vehicle from bumper to bumper for five years/60,000 miles. In addition, the powertrain is covered by a 10-year/100,000 mile limited warranty, while body panels have a seven-year/100,000 mile anti-corrosion/perforation limited warranty.

The program also includes 24-hour emergency roadside assistance with free towing to the nearest authorized Mitsubishi retailer for warranty-related repairs for five years/unlimited miles.

Technical data, features, options and other equipment listed in this release are based on the latest information available at the time of printing and are subject to change without notice.

Mitsubishi Motors North America, Inc., (MMNA) is responsible for all manufacturing, finance, sales, marketing and research and development operations of the Mitsubishi Motors Corporation in the United States. Mitsubishi Motors sells coupes, convertibles, sedans, a mid-size pickup truck and sport utility vehicles through a network of approximately 540 dealers.

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2007 Mitsubishi Outlander Technical and Mechanical Specifications 
 
April 12, 2006 -- NEW YORK --

ENGINE  LS 2WD  LS 4WD  XLS 2WD  XLS 4WD 
Engine Type  3.0L MIVEC V-6 
Valve Train  SOHC, 24-valve, Mitsubishi Innovative Valve-timing Electronic Control system (MIVEC) 
Displacement (cu in./cc)  182/ 2998 
Bore x Stroke (in./mm)  3.45 x 3.26/87.6 x 82.9 
Compression Ratio  10.3:1 
Horsepower @ RPM (BHP)%u02A0(Fed./Cal.)  220/213 @ 6250 
Torque @ RPM (lb-ft.)%u02A0 (Fed./Cal.)  204 lb.-ft. @ 4000 
Air intake system  Variable, with 3-stage induction control valve 
Engine Block  Aluminum 
Cylinder Heads  Aluminum 
Redline RPM  6500 
Fuel System  MPI 
Emissions  Fed.: Tier 2%u02A0bin 5
Calif.: LEV2 / SULEV(HC-Trap high-efficiency catalyst system and DOR catalytic radiator)
 
Recommended Fuel  Regular, 87 octane min. 
Engine Oil Capacity (qt./l)  4.2/ 4 
TRANSMISSION TYPES  LS 2WD  LS 4WD  XLS 2WD  XLS 4WD 
Transmission Type  6 Speed Sportronic automatic (steering wheel paddle shifters on XLS models) 
Ratios .
1st 4.199
2nd 2.405
3rd 1.583
4th 1.161
5th 0.855
6th 0.685
Reverse 3.457
Final Drive  3.571
SUSPENSION  LS 2WD  LS 4WD  XLS 2WD  XLS 4WD 
Front  MacPherson Strut 
Front Stabilizer Bar Diameter (mm)  22 
Rear  Multi-link 
Rear Stabilizer Bar Diameter (mm)  20 
EXTERIOR DIMENSIONS  LS 2WD  LS 4WD  XLS 2WD  XLS 4WD 
Wheelbase (in./mm)  105.1/2670 
Length (in./mm)  182.7/4640 
Width (in./mm)  70.9/1800 
Height (in./mm)  66.1/1680 (w/ roof rails: 67.7/1720) 
Track, Front%u02A0(in./mm)  60.6/1540 
Track, Rear (in./mm)  60.6/1540 
Min. Ground Clearance (in./mm)  8.5/215 
INTERIOR%u02A0DIMENSIONS  LS 2WD  LS 4WD  XLS 2WD  XLS 4WD 
Passenger Seating Capacity  5 5 7 7
Interior Volume%u02A0(cu. ft.)  143.3 (w/sunroof: 139.5) 
Passenger Volume (cu. ft.) (w/ sunroof)  104 (w/sunroof: 100.2) 
EPA Cargo Volume (cu. ft.)  39.3 
EPA Cargo Volume (max. cu. ft.)  69.2 
PASSENGER SPACE  LS 2WD  LS 4WD  XLS 2WD  XLS 4WD 
Front Head Room (in./mm)  40.3/1023 
Front Shoulder Room (in./mm)  56.4/1433 
Front Hip Room (in./mm)  52.2/1326 
Front Leg Room (in./mm)  41.6/1056 
Rear Head Room (in./mm)  38.3/973 
Rear Shoulder Room (in./mm)  56.1/1426 
Rear Hip Room (in./mm)  51.9/1319 
Rear Leg Room (in./mm)  39.6/1007 
WEIGHTS  LS 2WD  LS 4WD  XLS 2WD  XLS 4WD 
GVWR (lbs/kg)  5070/2300  5181/2350  5070/2300  5181/2350 
Curb Weight (lbs/kg)  3527/1600  3670/1665  3649/1655  3791/1720 
Weight Distribution (% f/r) @ curb weight  57.5/42.5  57/43  56.8/43.2  56.4/43.6 
Towing Capacity (lbs)  Std.: 2000 (w/ towing pkg.: 3500) 
Maximum Trailer Tongue Load (lbs)  Std.: 200 (w/ towing pkg.: 350) 
STEERING  LS 2WD  LS 4WD  XLS 2WD  XLS 4WD 
Type  Rack-and-pinion, power assisted 
Turns Lock to Lock  3.16 
BRAKES  LS 2WD  LS 4WD  XLS 2WD  XLS 4WD 
Front Brake Type  Ventilated disc 
Rear Brake Type  Solid disc 
FUEL CAPACITY  LS 2WD  LS 4WD  XLS 2WD  XLS 4WD 
Fuel Tank Capacity (gal./l)  16.6/63  15.8/60  16.6/63  15.8/60 
ESTIMATED FUEL ECONOMY  LS 2WD  LS 4WD  XLS 2WD  XLS 4WD 
City%u02A0(mpg)  20  20  20  19 
Highway (mpg)  27  26  26  25 
WHEELS & TIRES  LS 2WD  LS 4WD  XLS 2WD  XLS 4WD 
Wheel Type  Steel  Aluminum alloy 
Wheel Size  16 in.  18 in. 
Tire Size  P215/70R16  P225/55R18 
WARRANTIES  LS 2WD  LS 4WD  XLS 2WD  XLS 4WD 
Basic  5 years or 60,000 miles 
Powertrain  10 years or 100,000 miles 
Anti-corrosion  7 years or 100,000 miles 

Technical specifications are based on the latest information available at the time of printing and are subject to change without notice.