Almost forgotten amid the rush of new compact crossover vehicles is one of the early arrivals to the class, the Mitsubishi Outlander.
When it hit the market in 2003, the Outlander offered a surprising amount of space and versatility in a streetable package that could tackle bad weather. In fact, it was the very definition of a crossover vehicle.
A decade down the road, the Outlander’s got plenty of competitors. For 2013 not much has changed other than the addition of a few of last year’s goodies and special option packages, a sure sign that an all-new Outlander’s on the way for 2014.
Even as an outgoing model, the Outlander brings Mitsubishi’s roadholding expertise and unique style to the table and stands out as one of the sportier crossovers out there.
Like the iconic Lancer, the Outlander features Mitsubishi’s jet-inspired front end styling. The air intake grille is somewhat less gaping than on the cars thanks to a body-colored crossbar, and the effect is forward-thrust and aggressive without looking cartoonish.
Compared to other crossovers, the Outlander has a long, narrow silhouette, giving it a purposeful look. This little crossover has no problems with being shaped like a station wagon. LED taillamps are standard.
This little crossover has no problem with being shaped like a station wagon.
The interior has been updated, but shows that the Outlander still belongs to the previous generation of crossovers. The dash is plasticky, the design still carrying vestiges of Mitsubishi’s mid-2000s styling even though the outside has been updated. Some switches like the dash “info” button and seat heater controls are hidden, because they’ve obviously been added later.
Rear-seat accommodations are adequate but not luxurious; the second-row seat is rather flat, and the available third-row seat can be handy but it’s basically a jumpseat. Still, the Outlander’s the most compact vehicle with seven real seats that you can find.
On the plus side, the seats are decently comfortable and the cargo area is huge, with an exceptionally low floor and a wide rear cargo door. A reverse camera is available, and for 2013 features like heated seats and mirrors, satellite radio, and automatic climate control are no-cost options.
The top of the line Outlander GT is available with a healthy assortment of upscale options, including keyless entry and start, a 710-watt Rockford-Fosgate sound system, and Sirius satellite radio.
The Outlander’s strongest suit is its handling. Drawing upon Mitsubishi’s rally-car experience, the Outlander’s MacPherson strut front, multi-link rear suspension provides a responsive and enjoyable ride that’s stable and confident without being stiff.
The center of gravity is low, thanks to the aluminum roof panel. Standard stability control, traction control and four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes don’t hurt either.
Length: 183.7 ins.
Width: 70.9 ins.
Height: 66.1 ins.
Wheelbase: 105.1 ins.
Curb weight: 3600 lbs.
Cargo space: 14.9 cu.ft. (seats up, third row installed); 72.6 cu.ft. (seats folded)
Base price: $22,695
Engine: 2.4 liter DOHC inline f-cylinder
Drivetrain: Continuously variable auto trans, available AWD
Horsepower: 168@ 6,000
Torque: 167@ 4,100
Fuel capacity: 15.8 gals.
Est. mileage: 22/27
A choice of four- or six-cylinder power is offered. The 2.4 liter 4-cylinder features 16-valve dual overhead cam construction and Mitsubishi’s MIVEC variable valve timing. It’s good for 167 hp, which is plenty to motivate the Outlander. It’s hooked up to a continuously variable transmission with paddle-shifters that enable manual gear ratio selection.
Step up to the Outlander GT, and Mitsubishi’s SOHC 3.0 liter V6 takes up residence under the hood. The 230 hp engine definitely wakes the Outlander up, providing sport-sedan acceleration and a smooth freeway ride. Towing capacity with the V6 is 3,500 pounds.
A 6-speed automatic is standard, and includes programming that automatically shifts into neutral when the Outlander is stopped, improving fuel economy. Front and all-wheel drive are offered, of course.
Though it’s not the newest face on the block, the latest Mitsubishi Outlander still has what it takes to stand out in the crossover field. Buyers looking for a comfortable cargo hauler that drives like a sports sedan—and who’d rather not shell out twice the price for a BMW X3—would do well to take a look.
Outlander pricing starts at $22,695.
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