Review: 2007 Mitsubishi Outlander
This 2007 review is representative of model years 2007 to 2009.
By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.