2014 Mitsubishi Outlander
Date Posted: March 18, 2013
By Zack Spencer
Mitsubishi is forging a different path with this compact crossover. With three row seating and a V6 engine, this new model offers versatility.
Smaller automotive companies have a tougher time cutting through the clutter when it comes to being recognized as a legitimate purchase choice. If the brand's name doesn't instantly come to mind it is often overlooked, even though it might be a legitimate choice. Mitsubishi is a perfect example of a small company, having only been in Canada for 10 years and with only four vehicle lines to choose from. Even though they are a Japanese car company, with all the positive baggage that Japanese companies inherit, this small company has to try harder to showcase their products. So, the introduction of the all-new 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander compact crossover has to be different enough to get noticed in a sea of very good and functional vehicles. Mitsubishi's biggest and most attractive feature is the inclusion of a V6 engine at a time when the competition is running away from this proven power plant.
I have been a fan of recent Mitsubishi products; the edgy front design that evokes a shark's nose is aggressive and unique. Men might have liked the macho look but women might have stayed away. With that in mind, this new Outlander has a more generic front design that neither inspires or alienates buyers. From a distance the front has a Ford inspired look to it but the logo and chrome trim reminds me of an Atari console from the 80s. (Not what they had in mind, I'm sure) The back is a big improvement, with an elegant rear light and tidier tailgate design that is now a one-piece lift gate, replacing the two-stage design in the previous model, plus a power lift gate is standard on the top GT trim. Weight has been reduced by 100kg to help improve fuel economy and structural improvements also improve the safety of the body structure. Another distinguishing feature in this class is a third row of seats and all V6 models, with seating for 7.
In an age of overly complex dashboards and electronic interfaces, it is refreshing to drive a vehicle that is all about the basics but done with an eye to being pleasant. The centre console of the Outlander is covered in a high-gloss surround that makes the cabin feel wide and open. Soft touch materials are placed where they should be and everything is easy to use and understand. The back seats bottoms now flip up and the seatback fold forward to provide a relatively flat floor. The steps to make this happen are more than other vehicles, but owners will adjust over time. V6 models get a third row of seats as standard equipment; they are now more substantial and fold flat into the floor with little fuss. To be blunt, the third row is small and is only useful for children or adults in small doses. So the Outlander should be considered a 5-seater with the two back seats as a bonus. The biggest updates for this 2014 model include a backup camera, optional Rockford Fosgate stereo system and a much better radio and navigation screen.
The base 2.4L 4-cylinder produces 166hp and is matched to a continuously variable transmission (CVT). The engine has been optimized to produce greater efficiency and when placed in the lighter body, the yet to announced fuel ratings should be improved. This engine is happiest when cruising along and not being strained. City, stop-and-go duties are not a problem, it is when the throttle is mashed that the 4-cylinder lets out a howl and the CVT shows its hand. The good news is that the V6 is a totally different story. The same 3.0L V6 found in the last model has been carried over and uses a conventional 6-speed automatic with paddle shifters. This is the choice for buyers who require quick on ramp merging and up to 3500lbs. of towing capacity. At 227hp, this is not the most powerful engine in this class but the upside is a smooth and relaxed ride that can turn into a bit of fun when the Outlander is thrown into the corners. I'd place this vehicle in the more dynamic of the current bread of small SUV's.
The base ES model comes equipped with a front wheel drive. All other models are equipped with AWD but the V6 GT model gets a more sophisticated AWD system that includes torque vectoring between the front wheels, making it the best handling of the bunch. In addition the GT includes standard leather seats, upgraded stereo, power lift gate, HID headlights and advanced safety features like a crash avoidance system, lane departure warning and adaptive cruise control. In the past 70% of all Outlanders have been sold in this V6 GT trim and having driven both the 4-cylinder and V6, it would be my choice too. It looks like Mitsubishi is trying to steer buyers in this direction because the most attractive new features come standard on this trim. The price for the new Outlander has not been finalized but expect the price range to stay in the $26,000-$35,000 range of the current model. So how is Mitsubishi cutting through the clutter? With a compact SUV that can be equipped with 7-seats, a V6, advanced safety features and is fun to drive. Just try the V6. Trust me.
The Good, The Bad
The V6 and packaging make a compelling story.
The base 4-cylinder and CVT can be loud.
Power: 2.4L 4-cylinder with 166hp or 3.0L V6 with 227hp
Sticker price: N/A