2007 Mitsubishi Outlander Review

2007 Mitsubishi Outlander - Big on features.


Mitsubishi Motors doesn't have the huge advertising budgets of larger Japanese automotive rivals like Toyota, Nissan or Honda. Too bad. The 2007 Outlander compact sport utility deserves more fanfare.

Last fall, Japan's fourth-largest automaker debuted the second-generation Outlander in the United States. The first-generation arrived in the 2003 model year.

This newest five-door incarnation is longer, taller and wider than the first-generation effort and boasts one of the cleanest-burning engines in its segment. Outlander is the first vehicle to utilize the new "C" platform also found in Mitsubishi's compact and spirited 2008 Lancer sedan.

Outlander follows a recent trend of compact sport utilities growing in size and power for sale the U.S. market. Toyota's RAV4 and the Honda CR-V (the two segment sales leaders) have been recently redesigned with stretched platforms and larger interior volumes. Another trend is an exterior design that continues to merge the traditional upright SUV styling with curved back end; what has been popularized at the 'crossover' look.

Crossover is one of the latest terms in the automobile world tossed about to describe a vehicle with the interior room of a sport utility, but with the underpinnings and superior fuel economy of a traditional hatchback station wagon. Outlook like most other uni-body platformed vehicles, is designed for on-road, not heavy off-road use.

In addition to the RAV4 and CR-V, other competitors in this popular compact segment include the Jeep Compass, Dodge Caliber, Subaru Forester and Hyundai Tucson.

Outlander is the only compact SUV from this list available with a standard all-aluminum V-6 engine and no four-cylinder option. Only the Tucson (173 horsepower V-6) and RAV4( 269 horsepower V-6) offer four and six-cylinder engines). Outlander's single-overhead-cam, 24-valve, 3.0-liter powertrain cranks out 220 horsepower and is coupled with a new 'sportronic' six-speed automatic transmission. It's the sole engine available in the three trim levels: ES, LS and top-line XLS. The sportronic feature allows manual shifting of gears when desired. The EX trim comes with front-wheel, two-wheel drive with LS and XLS also offer four-wheel drive.

Fuel economy checks in at a respectable 19 mpg city and 26 mpg highway for the four-wheel drive edition. Front-wheel drive editions get one mile better in each category. Regular 87-octane fuel is the recommended grade.

Other than Toyota's RAV4, Outlander is the only compact crossover/SUV available with an available third row. It's not designed for adults, but best left to the kids because of limited leg room. The third-row seat comes standard in the XLS trim level and folds flat into the floor when not in use. It's designed to snap into place via a cleverly designed strap system. With a couple quick pulls of a couple straps when standing outside the hatch area, the seat extends up from the floor. Three adults can fit in the second row. Second-row seat backs fold flat onto seat cushions, then easily tumble forward to gain access to the third row.

Outlander starts at $21,370 for a front-wheel-drive ES model. Our test vehicle, a top-line XLS with four-wheel drive listed for $25,010. After factoring in a luxury package ($1,600 for headed seats and power driver's seat) and sun and sound package ($1,580 for premium sound system and Sirius radio) the bottom line was $28,815 including a $625 destination charge.

Inside, our XLS trim had plenty of headroom in all seating positions and plenty of cup holders and small storage areas. Also in between the bucket seats (in four-wheel-drive editions) is a dial enabling drivers two switch from front-wheel-drive to four-wheel-drive auto and four-wheel drive lock while stopped or moving. The instrument panel includes two deep-set analog gauges for speedometer and tachometer. In between is a digital message display including a bar-like display for fuel. The dashboard is well designed with three dials controlling ventilation functions at the bottom of the center column. Side view mirrors are large and provide good visuals.

Our XLS test edition included standard paddle shifters on the steering wheel in addition to the floor-mounted automatic gearshift to manually change gear points when desired. LS and ES trims have the floor-mounted style exclusively.

The rear hatchback with wiper, hinged at the top, opens up from the bottom. Those over six-feet tall must bend down when loading items as to avoid hitting their head with the hatch open. One nice feature is a lower lip design along the bottom, which flips down when needed to make loading heavier items a bit easier. Side doors with strap-like handles are large enough when opened to provide plenty of room to enter the vehicle. In front, a narrow honeycomb grille is flanked by narrow headlight housing.

Mitsubishi offers one of the best extended warranties in the business. The powertrain limited warranty is good for 10 years or 100,000 miles (whichever comes first) while the new-vehicle limited warranty is for five years or 80,000 miles.

This vehicle has excellent handling. Body sway is minimal when tackling spirited turns and the steering wheel paddle shifters make it easy to manually change gears during turns.

Outlander is one of a handful of Mitsubishi vehicles sold in the United States that's exclusively built in Japan. The Galant coupe, Eclipse coupe, Eclipse convertible and Endeavor sport utility are all built on the same assembly line about 130 miles southwest of Chicago in Normal, Ill.


Dave Boe

Dave Boe, a lifetime Chicago area resident, worked at the Daily Herald, Illinois' third-largest daily newspaper, for 24 years. In 1989, the Daily Herald began a weekly Saturday Auto Section and he was shortly appointed editor. The product quickly grew into one of the largest weekend sections in the paper thanks to his locally-written auto reviews, the introduction of a local automotive question-and-answer column, a new colorful format and news happenings from Chicago area new-car dealerships.

Five years later, a second weekly auto section debuted on Mondays with Boe adding an industry insight column and introducing a "Love Affair with Your Car" column where readers sent in their own automotive memories for publication. During the next 10 years, the number of weekly auto sections Boe edited and coordinated grew to five and featured expanded NASCAR racing coverage, a dealer spotlight/profile feature and a Car Club Calendar where grass-roots automobile clubs could publish upcoming events for free. Boe also introduced more local automotive columnists into the pages of the sections, all of whom were seasoned members of the well respected Midwest Automotive Media Association. In 1997, Boe earned the Employee of the Year award from the Daily Herald.

Boe is a founding member and current president of the Midwest Automotive Media Association. He has degrees in Journalism and Business Administration from Northern Illinois University.