2009 Mitsubishi Outlander

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Review: 2007 Mitsubishi Outlander

This 2007 review is representative of model years 2007 to 2009.
By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
Rating: 7

Bottom Line:

Redesigned Outlander is a big improvement over its predecessor.
Pros:
  • Roomier
  • More powerful
  • Newly available third-row seat
Cons:
  • Third seat just for kids
  • Thick windshield posts obstruct view
  • Split rear tailgate may annoy some

The redesigned Mitsubishi Outlander can be called a crossover or station wagon, although it's officially classified as a small SUV. No matter what its designation, the 2007 Outlander is a big improvement over its predecessor.

The 2007 Outlander replaces the first-generation 2003-06 model. It's based on a new high-performance global platform that will be used for Mitsubishi's new-generation hot-rod Lancer Evolution X.

The new Outlander has smooth styling with a racy flair. It's available for the first time with a third-row seat, although that bench seat is best suited to kids and only offered in the top-line XLS trim level. It folds into a well in the cargo floor, although there is a fair amount of cargo room with it in its normal upright position.

The second-row split seat folds and tumbles to allow easy entry to the third row. The second seat also moves fore and aft some 3 inches for more knee or cargo space even in Outlanders with two-row seating.

Mitsubishi calls the Outlander a 5-seater with two seating rows and a 7-seater with the third seat. But the 2-row version comfortably seats only four adults because the second seat has an uncomfortable high center area.

Various Trim Levels
The Outlander comes as the base ES with front-wheel drive, midrange LS with front- or 4-wheel drive (4WD) and as the XLS, which also can be bought with either drive setup. List prices range from $21,370 to $25,010.

Even the ES is pretty well-equipped, with such items as air conditioning, tilt wheel, cruise control, manual height-adjustable driver's seat, AM/FM/CD/MP3 player and power mirrors, windows and door locks with remote keyless entry.

The LS adds steering wheel radio controls and alloy wheels, with the 4WD version having a center-locking differential.

Besides the third seat, the XLS adds automatic climate control, in-dash 6-disc CD/MP3 changer, steering-wheel shift paddles and lower profile tires on 18- (vs. 16-inch) wheels.

Variety of Options
A Sun and Sound package contains a power sunroof, upscale sound system and SIRIUS satellite radio. It costs $1,580 for the XLS and $1,740 for the LS. A $1,600 XLS luxury package provides leather upholstery, heated front seats, power driver's seat and xenon headlights.

An $1,800 navigation system for the XLS absorbs many audio functions, but can be complicated to use. However, audiophiles will appreciate that the system has a hard drive for storing up to six gigabytes of MP3 music files. Restless kids in a back seat? Their LS has a $1,150 DVD entertainment system.

More Potent Engine
A new 3.0-liter 220-horsepower V6 replaces a smaller 160-horsepower 4-cylinder that was rough and rather weak. The new engine doesn't give the Outlander sizzling performance because this vehicle weighs 3,527-3,791 pounds. But the V6 provides good acceleration for merging and passing on highways.

Fuel economy is an estimated 20 mpg in the city and 27 on highways in front-wheel-drive mode and 19 and 26 in 4WD mode.

New Automatic Transmission
A responsive 6-speed automatic transmission with manual-shift capability replaces a 4-speed automatic. The old model's 5-speed manual gearbox is gone, which is just as well because it would be out of place in such a family-oriented vehicle.

The Outlander's 4WD system was designed after years of experience with performance 4WD systems in Mitsubishi's tough rally-winning vehicles, including those used in the 7,000-mile Paris-to-Dakar event. (Mitsubishi has won that event 11 times.)

Advantages of 4WD
The 4WD system improves traction on slippery surfaces and enhances handling response and stability under all conditions. There are driver-controlled "2WD" (front-wheel drive), "4WD" or "Lock" modes. Lock mode (Mitsubishi says think of it as "4WD Sport") increases initial traction and provides more high-speed stability and the best performance on rough or slippery surfaces.

Power is sent in Lock or 4WD modes in controlled, varying amounts to front and rear wheels. Some other systems provide a slippery surface traction benefit, but not necessarily as much of a handling benefit. The 2WD mode allows a slight fuel savings, and the different drive modes can be selected at any time.

Good Roadability
I drove the XLS 4WD version, which is not much different than other Outlander trim levels. It had quick, nicely weighed steering, stable handling, good brake pedal action and an all-independent suspension that delivered a firm-but-compliant ride.

The center of gravity is lowered by an aluminum roof, and a front strut tower brace increases rigidity and further enhances handling. Stability also is enhanced by wider front and rear tracks.

The front bucket seats provide decent support, and gauges can be easily read. But thick windshield posts partly obstruct visibility when taking corners. Outside mirrors are large, as are climate controls. However, sound system controls are small, and the plastic inside door handles should feel sturdier.

The long dashboard top has a shallow storage area with a cover, and all doors have storage pockets and bottle holders.

Split Tailgate
The split tailgate may annoy some folks because it opens in two parts. The top glass area must be opened before the metal bottom half can be lowered.

Some feel that the Japanese car market stops at Toyota, Honda and Nissan, but those looking for a rather sporty but practical vehicle should check out the new Outlander.

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BB02 - 7/12/2014 10:09:28 PM