2015 Outlander New Car Test Drive
Outlander was all new and well received in 2014. For 2015, Outlander carries over unchanged.
Outlander seats seven, having a standard third-row seat, which thins out the mid-size competition to mostly the Kia Sorento, Nissan Rogue, whose third row is cramped, and Hyundai Santa Fe, which stretches its wheelbase for the optional third row.
If you need a 7-passenger crossover because you've got 5 kids and/or carry sports teams everywhere, and you need good fuel mileage, Outlander is the call. It gets five miles per gallon more than the Sorento, 27 mpg combined versus 22 mpg combined, in 2wd. What's more, it has received the Top Safety Pick designation from the IIHS, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Its smooth lines bring a good 0.33 coefficient of drag, without roofrails which aren't standard. The headlights are tidy, and the front fascia isn't big and bland. The styling is smooth and clean but not exciting. It looks substantial for families.
The interior has a soft-touch instrument panel whose gauges are uncommonly simple, clean, and easy to read. The air conditioning is outstanding, with a quiet fan even on full blast. The whole cabin is exceptionally quiet. For the 2014 redesign, Mitsubishi said they spent thousands of hours on reducing wind noise.
There is a fold-flat 60/40 second row and 50/50 third row. Access to the thin third row of seats is okay but not magic. There's more knee room in the Outlander third row than the Nissan Rogue we tested.
The new 2.4-liter engine is single overhead-cam. It used to be double overhead cam, for higher performance; but today it's all about efficiency. It uses electronic valve timing which Mitsubishi calls MIVEC (the i is for innovative, not intelligent like the others). It makes 166 horsepower and 162 foot-pounds of torque at 4200 rpm. The numbers aren't big, but the power is good.
It's smooth enough to maybe make you forget about needing a V6, on the freeway at 80 mph. For one week in Southern California it ran the freeway fast lane just fine. Later, on a short road trip, it was smooth plus effortless. Its CVT kicked down for the long gradual uphills, invisibly. This CVT feels like an automatic transmission. Mitsubishi raises the bar a notch in continuously variable transaxle technology, after seven years of development.
The base Outlander ES comes with front-wheel drive, but all-wheel drive is available. The Mitsubishi system is ironclad, with many world rally victories to prove it. We're pretty damn good at all-wheel-drive systems, a Mitsubishi engineer said at the Outlander launch. We've been doing it for 30 or 40 years.
They call it Super All-Wheel Control, or S-AWC, with the Super meaning torque vectoring (shifting the power between the front wheels as needed for grip) to further improve control during cornering. S-AWC is available down to the four-cylinder SE model. It has four driving modes: ECO, Normal, Snow and Lock, which gives the most drive to the rear wheels.
Mitsubishi calls its body shell Reinforced Impact Safety Evolution (RISE). There are energy absorbing sections in key areas of the body and chassis, including under the floor of the passenger compartment.
The 3.0-liter V6, also new in 2014, gets you there more powerfully if not necessarily faster on account of speed limits, and it will tow another ton (3500 pounds vs. 1500 pounds), if you have a boat to take on the lake with your five kids. The V6 is mated to a sweet 6-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. It comes standard in the all-wheel-drive GT model.
With either engine, the Outlander is classified as a low emissions vehicle.
There are three models of Outlander: ES, SE and GT.
The base ES ($23,195) comes with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, CVT, and two-wheel drive. It's equipped with power windows and locks, automatic climate control, 2nd row heating, anti-theft alarm and engine immobilizer, halogen headlamps, tilt telescopic steering wheel with audio and cruise controls, remote entry, hill start assist, speed-sensitive wipers, tinted glass, and 6-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system.
The SE ($24,195) adds a lot. There's a 6.1-inch touch-screen display system, rearview camera, digital HD Radio, fog lights, 18-inch alloy wheels, front dual-zone climate control, heated front seats, passive entry system with push-button ignition switch, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, 140-Watt AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system, and Mitsubishi's FUSE Hands-Free Link System with USB that allows voice command of iPod and cell phone. All-wheel drive is available with the SE for another $2000.
The Outlander GT ($28,195) uses the 24-valve 3.0-liter V-6 with 6-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. It adds HID headlights satellite radio, rain-sensing wipers, and wood grain interior trim.
There are many available packages and accessories, from navigation ($2375) and entertainment ($1695), to a wind deflector ($200) and piano black trim ($320) with blue LED lighting ($360).
The Premium Package ($2600 on SE and GT) adds black roofrails, leather interior, power glass sunroof, power driver's seat, power remote tailgate, and 9-speaker 710-watt Rockford Fosgate audio system with surround sound and Dolby volume.
The Touring Package ($6100) adds a 7-inch touch panel navigation system with real-time traffic, Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), Forward Collision Mitigation (FCM) system, and Lane Departure Warning (LDW).
Standard safety features on all Outlanders include seven airbags, stability control with traction control, anti-lock brakes with brake-force distribution (EBD); hill start assist, and tire pressure monitor.
Other refinements and standard additions include micron air filtering, tilt/telescopic steering wheel with cruise control and audio controls, remote keyless entry, security system with engine immobilizer, 6-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system, intermittent rear wiper with washer, and halogen headlights.