2006 Outlander New Car Test Drive
Taut and toned, the Mitsubishi Outlander looks bolder and more aggressive than its better-established competitors, the 2006 Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V. Outlander offers a manual transmission; the RAV4 and CR-V do not. And its aggressive pricing makes the Outlander an attractive alternative to the big-name brands.
Otherwise, Outlander is similar in size and character to the CR-V and RAV4. Like those two popular vehicles, Outlander is a car-based sport utility, with four doors and a roomy cargo area that's easily accessible. Like other small crossover sport-utes, Outlander offers elevated seating for better visibility.
We found the Mitsubishi Outlander smooth and quiet, and rock-steady at highway speeds. Outlander is neither tall nor tippy and its compact size helps it negotiate the often-hostile asphalt jungle.
All-wheel drive is available for improved traction and handling stability on snow and ice or gravel. For 2006, anti-lock brakes and seat-mounted side-impact airbags come standard on all models.
A new 2006 Outlander SE replaces last year's XLS. The SE combines the same content with more brightwork and bling-bling, inside and out. And for 2006, the Limited model adds automatic climate control to its list of standard conveniences.
The 2006 Mitsubishi Outlander is available in three trim levels: LS, SE, and Limited. All come with a 160-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine. LS comes with a five-speed manual transmission but offers a four-speed automatic. Automatic transmission is standard on SE and Limited. All three models are available with front-wheel drive (2WD) or all-wheel drive (AWD).
Outlander LS ($17,799) and LS AWD ($19,899) come standard with air conditioning; cruise control; power windows and locks; power folding rearview mirrors; a height-adjustable steering wheel; height-adjustable driver's seat; a 140-watt, four-speaker AM/FM/CD audio system; analog clock; center console with storage; two 12-volt accessory outlets; 60/40 split, folding and reclining back seat; intermittent windshield and rear window wipers, and 16-inch steel wheels. A cargo cover, floor mats, keyless entry, and roof rails come standard on the AWD model and are optional on the 2WD model ($550).
SE ($20,670) and SE AWD ($23,429) are the new rugged-looking Outlanders, with body-color fender flares plus, silver roof rails and stanchions, silver inserts and crossbar in the front grille, a polished exhaust finisher and 17-inch bright-finish alloy wheels. SE trim also includes sporty seat fabric, see-through headrests. whiteface gauges and clock, and a leather steering wheel and shift knob. A sunroof and an improved 210-watt Infinity audio system with six-CD changer, MP3 playback, and new alphanumeric display are standard with AWD and optional as a package ($1400) with 2WD.
Limited ($23,629) and Limited AWD ($25,479) add heated leather seats, heated outside mirrors, and automatic climate control. The sunroof and 210-watt Infinity audio are standard.
Safety features that come standard include anti-lock brakes (ABS) and side-impact airbags. ABS helps the driver maintain control of the car in an emergency braking situation, while Outlander's seat-mounted side arbags are designed to provide protection to the torsos of the driver and front passenger in a side impact. These are in addition to the required frontal airbags. Three-point seatbelts for all five seating positions and child safety seat anchors come standard. Both front seats feature seatbelt pretensioner and force-limiter technology, which can help reduce injuries in an accident. So wear them.
Mitsubishi Outlander presents a bolder appearance than other sport utilities in this class. In comparison to the cute-utes, Outlander has a more muscular, masculine, aggressive appearance.
A wide nose section splits the grille and flows back over the hood. The aggressive look is enhanced by large, tinted headlight covers and fog lamps mounted at the edges of the bumper on the SE and Limited models. Gray cladding on the bumpers and side sills adds to the aggressive appearance, and the 16-inch wheels lend substance to even the base model. SE and Limited feature handsome body-colored cladding.
The aerodynamic design minimizes wind noise going down the road. Mitsubishi Outlander presents a wind-cheating, wedgy profile that's more slippery than the 2006 RAV4, CR-V, or Forester. Its standard rear spoiler and the optional roof rack with tubular rails give it a substantial appearance. Getting in is aided by well-designed door handles that are easy to grab.