Used 2003 Mitsubishi Outlander SUV Review

All the basics, including comfort, confident handling and unique style, are in place, but the Outlander needs more power to keep up with its rivals.




what's new

Mitsubishi jumps into the mini-SUV battle with the Outlander, which offers different styling but little else to separate it from the likes of the Subaru Forester or Honda CR-V.

vehicle overview

After years of losing potential market share, Mitsubishi will jump into the mini SUV fray with their new Outlander for 2003. Built on a wheelbase of 103.3 inches, measuring 179.1 inches in length and weighing in at 3461 pounds (3240 for two-wheel-drive models), the Outlander is virtually identical to the Honda CR-V in size. With a prominent hood bulge and a large grille that dips down into the front fascia, the Outlander tries to look more brute-ute than cute-ute. Smooth flanks and a likewise clean tail (with clear lens taillights on XLS models) complete the Outlander's uncluttered look. Up top, a tubular roof rack can be configured to carry anything from surfboards to bicycles.

A mostly conventional cabin features large instrument pods and familiar control layouts. Split folding rear seats allow a maximum of 60.3 cubic feet of cargo capacity. Unlike most of its competitors, the Outlander stows its spare tire under the cargo floor, as opposed to being installed (and exposed) on the rear end of the vehicle.

A 2.4-liter inline four (borrowed from the Galant) provides 140 horsepower and 157 pound-feet of torque. The torque figure comes in at just 2,500 rpm, promising brisk performance at lower speeds. A four-speed Sportronic automatic gearbox allows manual-style shifting and is the only tranny fitted to the Outlander. Front- or all-wheel-drive configurations are offered, and all Outlanders have fully independent suspensions utilizing MacPherson struts up front and a multilink coil spring setup out back. Brakes are a front disc/rear drum arrangement with ABS as an option.

Two trim levels, base LS and upscale XLS, will be offered. The LS will come well-stocked with desired features such as air conditioning, power package, CD audio and cruise control. Moving up to the XLS adds the versatile roof rack, fog lamps, alloy wheels, white-faced gauges and leather wrapping for the steering wheel and shifter. Options include a sound and sun package (which features a 210-watt audio system and a sunroof), leather seating and side airbags.

With pricing starting at under $19,000, the Outlander is looking to snag its share of active folks who would've previously driven by a Mitsubishi dealer on their way to Toyota, Honda, Ford, or Hyundai stores.

edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.