2014 Mitsubishi Outlander First Drive

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  • 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander - Action Front 3/4 - 3

    2014 Mitsubishi Outlander - Action Front 3/4 - 3

    The 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander replaces its predecessor's aggressive styling with a more generic exterior that will likely appeal to a broader audience. | March 20, 2013

25 Photos

A Giant Leap Forward, but Still a Few Steps Behind

Evolution is certainly a word often associated with the Mitsubishi brand. In this case, however, we're not talking about a turbocharged sport sedan. Instead, evolution refers to the redesigned third-generation 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander, a crossover SUV that has definitely evolved.

As with any redesign, however, the real question is whether the Outlander has evolved enough. We're talking about a hot segment here and being just good enough doesn't really cut it. Throw in the fact that this has been one of Mitsubishi's best-selling vehicles lately and this redesigned SUV is all the more important to the brand.

New Inside and Out
The most obvious change is the 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander's exterior styling. It's a more conventional take on the crossover SUV, with rounded corners and large unadorned expanses of sheet metal. All of this was done in the name of improved aerodynamics, according to Brian Arnett, Mitsubishi's product strategy senior manager. The result is a 7 percent lower drag coefficient (from 0.36 to 0.33), which should help in the mileage department. Unfortunately, it also makes this Outlander a little bland. One of the defining characteristics of the previous-generation Outlander was its aggressive Evo-like styling. Now, it's looking a bit generic.

The 2014 Outlander's interior, on the other hand, is an undisputed improvement. A contemporary design, paired with more refined materials, brings the new model up to modern standards. Third-row seats are now standard for all trims and they're much better than the predecessor's rickety perches. That rearmost row is still very cramped, but Mitsubishi contends that these seats are meant for occasional use, and for children only.

The middle-row seats now slide and recline, and that allows for an additional 13 inches of maximum cargo length, but total capacity drops from a spacious 73 cubic feet to a merely average 63 cubes. The split tail/liftgate is replaced by a one-piece liftgate with a power option. Roof rails are also absent, though mounting points are present for aftermarket solutions.

Under the Hood and on the Road
Both existing engines are retained, so the 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander is available with either a 2.4-liter four-cylinder or 3.0-liter V6 engine. Power output is about the same as before, with the four-cylinder generating 166 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque while the V6 delivers 224 hp and 214 lb-ft. The V6 is paired with a traditional six-speed automatic with shift paddles, while the base engine comes only with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) and no paddles.

We found the base engine and CVT appropriate for city driving, but inadequate on the highway. Reaching freeway speeds required prolonged use of wide-open throttle, which is accompanied by a bovine drone from under the hood. The V6 is the obvious choice for highway duty, though its power delivery wasn't all that impressive either.

On the plus side, the new Outlander does promise greatly improved fuel economy. Mitsubishi claims a combined city/highway rating of 27 mpg for the front-wheel-drive four-cylinder and 23 mpg for the all-wheel-drive V6 (up from 22 mpg and 21 mpg, respectively): best-in-class for seven-passenger SUVs.

These gains are achieved via revised gear ratios and engine tweaks, along with new Eco driving modes. With the Eco modes engaged, throttle inputs are damped to Prius-like unresponsiveness and the air-conditioning is dialed back. For models equipped with the Super-All-Wheel Control (S-AWC ) all-wheel-drive system, the Eco mode forces front-drive-only operation until wheel sensors detect a loss in traction, at which point power is sent to the rear wheels.

Drivetrain-wise, the big news is still to come. A plug-in hybrid electric (PHEV) model will hit showrooms in 2014. According to Masatoshi Hasegawa, corporate planning and EV Operations executive vice president, the Outlander was designed from the beginning for either a conventional gas engine or a plug-in hybrid drivetrain, which means cargo and interior space remain relatively identical for both. A 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine will be paired with an array of batteries for a promised 30 miles of electric-only range.

Behind the Wheel
From the driver seat, the 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander manages its size well. On twisting roads the Outlander's handling proved capable as the S-AWC all-wheel-drive system, sourced from the 2013 Lancer Evolution, maximizes available grip. Even so, the lumbering crossover's tall ride height and threat of lurking understeer keeps the Outlander well outside the fun zone.

The new electric power steering offers respectable feedback. Ride quality is well controlled, too, as the Outlander's chassis does an adequate job of flattening out the ruts and bumps in the road. Were it not for the flat, firm seats and noticeable wind and road noise, we'd be fine logging hundreds of miles in a day. These flaws are less critical during daily commuting, allowing other improvements to shine. A new, sharper infotainment display and pleasantly powerful Rockford Fosgate audio system won't hurt, either.

Though owners will rarely need to traverse the wilderness, the Outlander is surprisingly adept at navigating rutted and rocky trails. In V6 GT form, it is limited mostly by its 8 inches of ground clearance and all-season tires.

Unrivaled Safety
Though the aforementioned changes may not win you over, safety advances to the 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander might. Debuting this year is adaptive cruise control, paired with a Forward Collision Mitigation (FCM) system.

These options are not offered by any of the Outlander's rivals and should be particularly significant for safety-minded shoppers. The FCM uses the same radar monitor as the cruise control to sense impending collisions. Within 2 seconds of sensing a potential collision, visual and audible alarms are triggered. Then, if the driver fails to react, the system begins applying light brake pressure followed by full panic braking to bring the SUV to a halt.

We tested the FCM against a simulated stationary vehicle at 20 mph and it worked as advertised, though Mitsubishi did warn that it would not stop in time at higher speeds. If steering inputs are detected, the system disengages, giving full control back to the driver. If the driver feels the FCM is too intrusive, its sensitivity is adjustable or it can be completely disabled. Somewhat less unique in the segment is a standard driver-knee airbag and an available lane departure warning system, though we found the LDW far too sensitive and annoying.

A Much Improved Crossover
Standing out in the compact crossover segment isn't easy. In the Outlander's case, the fact that it offers standard seating for seven, unique safety features and eventually a plug-in hybrid variant, should help it overcome its lack of name recognition.

The more mainstream styling should also do it some favors as well. We're not fans of it, but compact SUVs sell on utility, not style. Efficiency is also key and this Outlander should deliver in that area, too. Turns out, evolution isn't such a bad thing for the 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander.

Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.

Comments

  • dfelix70 dfelix70 Posts:

    Not sure what it is, but the "styling" of this thing just irritates me, both interior and exterior. It seems almost clear that Mitsu is on the brink of bankruptcy and had no funding for truly creative design elements. Why anyone would choose this over its direct competition escapes me.

  • bricknord bricknord Posts:

    The front and rear overhangs look too extreme to me. As if the wheels are pushed inward to the center of the vehicle. Odd.

  • emajor emajor Posts:

    A lukewarm refresh on an already stale model that eliminates the decent exterior styling and offers a plug-in hybrid that no one was asking for, while leaving the uncompetitive gas powertrains unimproved. The Outlander didn't sell poorly because it lacked a hybrid or adaptive cruise control. Mitsubishi would have better spent its engineering capital making a vehicle that could compete on traits other than gimmicky safety technology. No wonder Mitsubishi is failing in this country. So it handles well. So does a CX5. Buy that instead.

  • hank39 hank39 Posts:

    IMO, this redesign won't be more appealing to the masses. I think it's less sporty and appealing. And get rid of those conehead third row headrests already.

  • frank908 frank908 Posts:

    We'll add this to the most unimaginative SUV category that's currently only occupied by the Subaru Tribeca, which at least has the excuse of being a old design that fills a spot in their lineup. Was Mitsubishi's design studios anywhere near Fukushima by any chance?

  • bankerdanny bankerdanny Posts:

    Once upon a time Mitsubishi was innovative. They introduced a large displacement (2.6l) balance shafted 4 cyl in the late 70's. They offered a small displacement turbo-4 hot hatch in the mid-80's. In 1990 you could get an AWD Turbo Eclipse GSX. Where did that company go and how can we get them back? Except for the Evo, Mitsu doesn't make anything that would interest me.

  • 500rwhp 500rwhp Posts:

    Wow, is that ugly. It's like they morphed a grand cherokee and Dodge Durango into one ugly b@st@rd of a design.

  • ed124c ed124c Posts:

    Without any pricing it is hard to determine if this will help Mitsu's sales in the US. However... first you have to get a buyer to get into the showroom. And then you have to get those buyers to forget about how horrible it looks and take it for a drive. When they get back from the drive (during which the buyers need to be satisfied with what they are seeing) they need to get out of the car and look at it again. It is then they realize that "This is a Mitsubishi, and a homely one at that" and then they will walk away. The ads that Mitsu apparently is going to have for this car are going to have to mesmerize potential buyers. Unfortunately, Mitsu hasn't enough vehicles to make it in the US. And the ones they have are behind the times-- including this 2014 Outlander. The bottom line: I, and I think most of the people in the US, would not be caught comatose in a Mitsubishi.

  • stovt001_ stovt001_ Posts:

    So if the Outlander has been refreshed, will the IL long term fleet be getting 2 or 3 Outlanders this year?

  • redrage redrage Posts:

    I don't know whether to "meh" or *sigh*

  • tim_boo tim_boo Posts:

    That thing is ugly!!! Sorry but a sliding tilting middle seat isn't going to attract many buyers even if they can get past the looks. Go back to the drawing board with better styling and some powertain options that will bring in the buyers.

  • garrym garrym Posts:

    Not impressed with the exterior redo, the interior has some appeal to me. I'm growing tired of grey or black interiors. All the automakers need to throw more colour into the interiors of their vehicles. Not sure Mitsubishi is going to survive many more years in North America if they don't offer more dramatic styling in all their vehicles. And this was the company that brought us the Evo.

  • jpnpower jpnpower Posts:

    I seriously don't see what's up. this car may be a bit boring, but Mitsubishi is still a very powerful and capable car company. It makes some very nice cars that lead the class. In fact, I think that their lineup is the best in years. Innovation did not stop, seriously. What the Hell is happening. Just..... ooops... wrong country! (WTF is Mitsubishi USA?)

  • psychogun psychogun Posts:

    13 comments and not one indicative of even the slightest amount of objective pragmatism. I agree that the styling is disappointing, however bland does sell. Just ask a number of women which design they prefer the 2014 or the 2013. The car is some 225 lbs lighter, the engines are more fuel efficient yet make almost the same amount of power as before. BTW, the 4-cylinder is new and not a carry-over as stated in the article. It also happens to be the world's first SOHC engine with a variable valve-train that can independently and continuously adjust timing and lift. The 5-seat version sold elsewhere actually has more cargo room than the current generation vehicle. The PHEV version is already on sale in Japan and reached 30,000 units within just a few weeks. It is also the the world's first parallel/serial plug-in hybrid CUV. Prices in Japan range from (a currency converted) US$35k to US$45k. All of the above can be done with just a few basic searches, or looking at reviews of the car from Australia, New Zealand, the U.K., and Germany. It's called critical thinking and doing your own research.

  • darthbimmer darthbimmer Posts:

    I'm surprised at the weak powertrains being offered with this vehicle. The 4 cylinder seems way too weak for a vehicle this size and weight, and the V6 seems more like a base engine option. For those who say, "Women buyers don't care about performance"-- that's true (as a generalization) when we're talking about 400hp V8s. The women I know definitely do care about performance when an underpowered engine creates concerns about comfort and safety. "I'm scared every time I get on the highway because I can't accelerate in time," says my sister about a cheap used car she can't afford to replace. "And the buzzy engine is so loud at 60mph that I can't talk to my daughter without yelling."

  • emajor emajor Posts:

    psychogun, You didn't give a single reason why this Outlander outcompetes any of its rivals. No one here wants a plug-in hybrid. And what difference does it make how advanced you think the 4 cylinder engine is when it performs like this: "We found the base engine and CVT appropriate for city driving, but inadequate on the highway. Reaching freeway speeds required prolonged use of wide-open throttle, which is accompanied by a bovine drone from under the hood." V6 ain't much better: "The V6 is the obvious choice for highway duty, though its power delivery wasn't all that impressive either." This vehicle segment is all about being objective and pragmatic. And this Mitsubishi doesn't stand out using that criteria. No visceral appeal, either. So what's left?

  • transpower transpower Posts:

    I'm looking forward to the PHEV. As for cargo capacity, a reviewer in England said that the cargo area was larger, not smaller, than before; obviously 73 cubic feet is better than 63 cubic feet--so if the 63 cubic feet figure is true, that's a disappointment. I'd probably replace the stock tires with Nokian WRG2 SUVs.

  • psychogun psychogun Posts:

    @emajor - my apologies, it would seem that my comment was insufficiently succinct. The purpose of my post was never to extol any supposed superior virtues of the Outlander. Rather, I was attempting to make (apparently rather poorly) the following points:

  • openeyes1 openeyes1 Posts:

    Yet another vehicle for obese American families, this SUV will offer horrible fuel economy and sloppy handling, but as long as the doors open really wide, wide reared consumers will love it!

  • transpower transpower Posts:

    In disagreement with other posts, I have to say that I do like the new style, and visibility looks to be excellent. As for the PHEV, I would like to get an inductive charging unit for less than $500. If I have to pay a lot more for such, than that would dampen my enthusiasm.

  • transpower transpower Posts:

    Here's some bad news about the hybrid batteries catching fire: http://green.autoblog.com/2013/03/29/mitsubishi-halts-production-of-i-miev-outlander-phev-after-two/#continued

  • rfred rfred Posts:

    I'm okay with the new iteration. Sure, it's a bit bland to look at, but it's the total package I'm interested in. And, admittedly, the new style is growing on me. The new interior design is decent. It also looks better in reality than it does in these photos. That said, I would not buy it with the 2.4 litre engine, but only with the 3.0. More to the point, I'm quite eagerly looking forward to the release (in Canada) of the PHEV version. A purported 125 to 150 mpg equivalent together with all wheel drive and the proportions of an SUV has my attention. I also like the 10 year power-train warranty, and the typical zero percent financing one gets up here. More to the point, my interest in the newest version stems from my experience with my current vehicle, a 2009 Outlander XLS (with the 6 cylinder). It's a great vehicle, and compares very favourably with the 4 Subarus, 1 Toyota Highlander, and 1 Honda Accord we've owned over the past 12 or so years. In fact, I replaced the Highlander with the Outlander, and like the Mitsu much better (Highlander was nice, drove well, but was very expensive to maintain, managed to have at least one major repair per year, such as an $1800 heater replacement, and was rather lousy in the snow). So, far, my Outlander has had only one thing break in 84,000 kms (minor, and under warranty) whereas our 2007 Subaru Impreza (with fewer miles on it) has had three recalls, has a permanently loose and rattle-y heat shield, costs a bomb to service, and needs a special oil treatment lest the head gaskets leak. So, when the 2009 Outlander needs replacing, I'll buy another Outlander, even if a bit bland. It's a decent vehicle.

  • sbukosky sbukosky Posts:

    Believe me when I say that Mitsubishi is not on the brink of Bankruptcy. The company is HUGE with many more products than cars. But they do seem to be styling challenged. The 2014 is a good improvement however. Because I am somewhat associated with Mitsubishi Electric, I'd like to own an Outlander but when I replace my 2002 Subaru Forester it will likely be with another Forester or Outback. The Subaru is the best quality vehicle that I've ever owned and I don't want to divorce a winner for the unknown.

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The Edmunds TCO® estimated monthly insurance payment for a 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander in VA is:

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