Full 2006 Mitsubishi Outlander Review
What's New for 2006
Mitsubishi has replaced the Outlander's XLS trim level with a new Special Edition (SE) trim. The SE has the same content as the former XLS but gains a few extra pieces of flashy exterior trim. The rest of the Outlander is unchanged for 2006, save for the addition of standard side airbags and antilock brakes to all models, as well as standard automatic climate control for the Limited trim.
Everybody who's anybody in the automotive world has a mini-SUV offering these days. Mitsubishi waited until 2003 to debut its own small SUV, the Outlander. What is it about the Outlander that sets it apart from the crowd? Well, for one thing, the distinctive styling is hard to overlook. With a bold snout and clear-lens taillights, the Mitsubishi Outlander certainly has a distinctive look.
The Outlander is dimensionally similar to the Forester in most respects. It's a little longer and wider but stands at about the same overall height, depending on the trim level. This makes for an easy entry and exit, especially for those used to climbing up into taller sport-utes. Despite its lower ride height, however, the Mitsubishi Outlander still gives drivers an elevated driving position for a clearer view of the road ahead, one of the perks that folks love about SUVs. Like its chief rivals, the Outlander utilizes a four-cylinder engine for less weight and better fuel economy, and buyers have a choice of front- or all-wheel-drive versions. Although it lags behind the class leaders in outright performance, the 2006 Mitsubishi Outlander is not without its virtues. For the reasons that folks buy mini SUVs -- like daily commuting and light-duty hauling (snowboards, mountain bikes, kayaks, etc.), this compact Mitsubishi SUV proves to be more than adequate.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The Mitsubishi Outlander is a compact four-door SUV offered in three trim levels: LS, SE and Limited. The base LS comes with items like 16-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, cruise control, a CD player and power windows, locks and mirrors. A roof rack, keyless entry and a cargo cover are also standard on LS models with an automatic transmission or all-wheel drive. Stepping up to the SE trim level adds a unique color exterior scheme, 17-inch wheels, an upgraded audio Infinity system with an MP3-compatible in-dash CD changer, upgraded cloth upholstery and heated front seats.. The top-line Limited has its own unique interior and exterior trim enhancements, leather seating, heated side mirrors, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a sunroof and automatic climate control.
Powertrains and Performance
Every Mitsubishi Outlander comes with a 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine rated at 160 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed manual transmission is standard on the LS. Optional on the LS and standard on all other models is a four-speed automatic with a manual-shift mode. Outlanders can be had with either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive.
Antilock brakes, front-seat side-impact airbags and daytime running lights are standard on all models. In government crash tests, the Mitsubishi Outlander received four out of five stars for driver and front-passenger protection in a frontal collision. Side-impact tests resulted in a five-star rating for front-passenger protection and a four-star rating for rear passengers. In frontal offset tests conducted by the IIHS, the Outlander received an overall rating of "Good" (its highest). The IIHS gave it a "Poor" rating for side-impact safety, but the vehicle tested did not have this year's standard side airbags.
Interior Design and Special Features
The cabin's overall look is clean and functional, with deeply recessed gauges and easy-to-reach three-dial climate controls. Extensive use of soft-touch materials adds an upscale, comfortable feel, while numerous storage bins and map pockets keep it practical. The two-tone color scheme and faux metal accents look great, but the optional leather upholstery isn't quite as impressive. Maximum cargo capacity is 60 cubic feet.
The 2.4-liter engine has enough power to give the Mitsubishi SUV a quick start in traffic and keep it humming along on the highway. The engine is sufficiently refined and high-rpm passing maneuvers, though not especially quick, don't elicit much racket from under the hood. The automatic transmission's shift points are perfectly acceptable in the normal drive mode, but for those who like to have a little bit more control, the automanual mode works well. If you want total control, get an LS model with the manual gearbox. Driven on tight winding roads and wide-open highways, the 2006 Mitsubishi Outlander proves to be a very competent and comfortable handler. It drives more like a car than an SUV, with only moderate body roll and a solid feel for the road.