2007 Outlander New Car Test Drive
For 2007, Mitsubishi has improved and simplified the Outlander, the company's entry in the compact sport utility vehicle class. The Mitsubishi Outlander gets a more powerful, V6 engine and a new six-speed automatic with a sport-shift feature, a first for this segment. Four-wheel drive remains an option, but the system is more sophisticated and more flexible than that of the previous generation, with a sportier, rear-wheel-drive emphasis.
Style-wise, the 2007 Outlander marks the beginning of a new design language for Mitsubishi. There's less metal in the new verbiage, more openness, giving the overall presence a lighter look and feel. It's less angular, more round, smoother and softer but with a touch more character.
In ways material and mechanical, the 2007 Outlander may look a lot like the 2006 models, but it isn't, not really. It's still independently sprung at all four corners. The four-wheel-drive setup is still closer to a pavement-friendly, all-wheel-drive system than it is to a true, backwoods-capable, off-road setup. But beyond these fundamentals, there's a lot more new than old, and the changes to the underpinnings are significant.
Topping the list is a standard, electronic skid and traction control system, offered for the first time on the '07 Outlander. The front suspension has been beefed up to improve directional stability and steering response. To the same end, internal components of the power-assisted steering system have been strengthened and refined. The rear suspension is a new, more rigid, yet more compliant design. Brakes are larger, the better to handle the added power and weight. Shock absorbers are more robust for enhanced ride control.
A number of interior features move the 2007 Outlander upscale, putting it into play with such formidable competitors as the Honda CR-V, the Mazda CX-7 and the Toyota RAV4, in addition to the Ford Escape and Chevrolet Equinox. Besides the not unexpected automatic climate control and leather-trimmed seats, there's an optional, rear-seat entertainment system, with a nine-inch, LCD screen and wireless remote and headphones.
Also available is a GPS-based, navigation system featuring a seven-inch, touch-screen and employing a hard disk drive for speedy data retrieval with a portion set aside for recorded audio tracks. The Outlander XLS features spiffy, Formula 1 racecar-style, magnesium shift paddles mounted on the steering column; a keyless ignition system; and a fold-down, compact third-row seat that qualifies the Outlander as a seven-passenger, compact SUV. All models come with a full complement of occupant safety features.
Competitive performance, fuel economy, and interior space makes the 2007 Mitsubishi Outlander a compelling vehicle at a compelling price.
The 2007 Mitsubishi Outlander comes in one body style, a four-door, five- or seven-passenger, compact sport utility vehicle. Three trim levels are available, the ES, the LS and the XLS. The sole powertrain is a 220-hp, 3.0-liter V6 engine with a six-speed automatic featuring a manual-shift, Sportronic function. The ES has front-wheel drive, while the LS and the XLS can be had with either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. With all-wheel drive, the tow rating jumps from 2000 to 3500 pounds, thanks to a larger radiator.
The ES ($21,370) comes with air conditioning, the usual trio of power-adjustable features, cruise control with steering wheel-mounted switches, multi-media sound system, fabric upholstery, 60/40-split rear seat, remote keyless entry and P215/70R16 tires on hubcapped, steel wheels. Four-way and seatback recline adjustments for the second-row seat are an unexpected feature for a base model. No manufacturer options are offered on the ES.
The LS ($22,410) adds leather-trimmed steering wheel and shift knob; steering wheel-mounted remote audio controls and Bluetooth switch pre-wiring; floor mats; roof rails; tonneau cargo cover; and alloy wheels. The LS can be outfitted with two manufacturer options, as well. One is the Sun & Sound Package, comprising a nine-speaker, 650-watt, Rockford-Fosgate premium sound system with in-dash six-CD/MP3 changer, DSP, auxiliary stereo input jack and speed-compensated volume and equalization; six-month trial subscription to Sirius satellite radio; and power glass sunroof with sun shade. The other is the Entertainment Package, essentially a rear seat entertainment system, with a roof-mounted, nine-inch LCD monitor, remote control, infrared wireless headphones, auxiliary video input jack and 115-volt, AC power outlet. The Bluetooth interface with voice-recognition microphone is a dealer-installed option.
The XLS ($23,650) kicks in automatic climate control; underfloor-stowable, compact, third-row seat; steering column-mounted, magnesium shift paddles; Bluetooth interface; fog lights; keyless entry and ignition; and P225/55R18 tires on alloy wheels. Two additional options are offered on the XLS. The Luxury Package has auto-leveling, Xenon, HID headlights; power-adjustable driver's seat; leather seating surfaces; and heated front seats. Finally, there's the Navigation and Multi-Communication System, combining a GPS-based navigation system replacing the more common CDs or DVD with a 30GB hard disk drive for data storage, 6 GB of which is reserved for audio files, and a fully integrated AM/FM tuner with a single CD/DVD drive, both accessed via a seven-inch, touch panel/display. When ordered with the Entertainment Package, both front and rear displays can share source drives.
Safety features include front (seat-mounted) side-impact airbags, which protect the upper body from injury in side impacts; roof-mounted side air curtains covering front and second-row seats, which minimize head injuries in side impacts; and active, front seat head restraints, which cushion the head and neck in rear impacts. That's in addition to the mandated front airbags, seatbelts and child safety seat anchors.
Active safety features (to assist the driver with crash avoidance) that come standard across the Outlander line include antilock brakes (ABS), which allow steering during panic stops; electronic brake-force distribution, which varies front and rear braking force to optimize stopping power in emergency stops; electronic stability control, which automatically minimizes skids during turning maneuvers; traction control, which limits wheel spin in slippery conditions; and tire pressure monitors, which warn drivers of under-inflated tires.