2016 Mitsubishi Outlander Review: 7 Seats, AWD, $25K
Three diamonds in the rough
With Mitsubishi Motors making headlines for all the wrong reasons, it might be tempting to dismiss the automaker’s entire lineup. Now that the Evo is gone, the company has lost any trace of its early-90s swagger.
That’s just one of the reasons I wasn’t looking forward to a week with the 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander (starting MSRP $22,995, as tested $33,095). The other reason: I’d recently driven a 2015 model, and I found nothing to love about the loud engine, aging interior, and harsh suspension.
It turns out that I’d underestimated just how much Mitsubishi changed the Outlander for 2016. On the outside, eagle-eyed observers might notice a new grille. But under the sheetmetal, there are a host of hidden changes that make it a better car—and an incredible deal for the price. By the end of seven days, I'd fallen squarely in like with this plucky, honest crossover.
Compare it to other cars in its class—like the 2016 Honda Pilot—and the Outlander doesn’t even come close. The Pilot has a superior fit and finish, a quieter interior, eight-passenger seating, and higher projected resale value.
But measure the Mitsu on its own merits, and the Outlander makes a compelling argument for a specific buyer: top safety ratings, an impressive all-wheel drive system, a killer 10 year and 100,000 mile powertrain warranty, and plenty of suspension and chassis improvements that push the 2016 lightyears ahead of its predecessor. Adult humans won’t find the third row of seats comfortable, but they’re there in a pinch.
Most importantly, the Outlander starts at just $22,995 for a two-wheel drive model. If you live in the snowbelt, the ES S-AWC trim adds all-wheel drive for $24,995. Personally, I think the sweet spot is the $25,995 SE S-AWC, which adds a rearview camera, heated front seats, and keyless entry.
If you want to go all-out, an extra grand gets you leather, and a whopping $5,250 bump adds navigation, a sunroof, and a package of active safety features like lane departure warning and forward collision mitigation. Maxed out at a hair over $33K, the Outlander may not feel luxurious, but it’s still thousands cheaper than a comparably equipped Pilot.
As you might expect from a bargain crossover, the Outlander is far from perfect. Surprisingly, with just a four-cylinder engine mated to a continuously variable transmission (CVT) the heavy Outlander has no problem getting out of its own way, but subpar sound insulation means there’s no escaping its tinny wheeze. Steering is vague at low speeds, so the vehicle feels especially hard to maneuver in tight city traffic.
Although the exterior is understated, the interior is largely unchanged from the older model and feels dated. Options like the aged navigation system or the gas-guzzling V6 are a waste of money—this car is all about value, so pay as little as possible for it. (Don’t confuse it for the similarly named Outlander Sport, either—that’s a five passenger compact crossover.)
If you want the best crossover on the market, skip the Outlander. But if you’ve got a family that’s growing faster than your income, need an affordable all-wheel drive hauler for your gear, or want to sign up as an UberXL driver, this Mitsubishi is worth a look.
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