2009 Mitsubishi Outlander Review

2009 Mitsubishi Outlander - Overlooked SUV.


The Mitsubishi Outlander often is overlooked because of  popular rivals such as the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 from larger automakers. But the Outlander, which can be called a compact SUV or crossover, is worth a good look.

The Outlander is handsome, with crisp lines and pronounced fenders. It comes with either a lively 2.4-liter dual-overhead camshaft four-cylinder with 168 horsepower or with a quieter single-overhead-cam V-6 with 220 horsepower.

There are a few changes to this second-generation Outlander from the 2008 version. For instance, an SE trim level replaces last year's LS trim level. There are base ES, mid-range SE trim levels with the four-cylinder engine and a top-line XLS model powered by the V-6.

All come as front-drive models or in costlier all-wheel drive (AWD) form. The AWD system is versatile. It can be set for front-drive, AWD and for a locked-in 50/50 front/rear power split. Roads in rough weather can be easily tackled.

The four-cylinder works with a smooth continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) and the V-6 shoots power through a responsive six-speed automatic. Both transmissions have manual-shift capability, with easily used paddle shifters.

The four-cylinder is rated at an estimated 20 mpg in the city and 25 on highways. But I got 26 mpg in an SE with AWD set to front-drive mode during 100 miles of moderate stop-go driving and 60 mph highway cruising.

The four-cylinder engine gets buzzy during more than moderate acceleration, but delivers decent 65-75 mph passing times and provides easy highway cruising.

The smoother V-6's estimated figures are 17 and 25 with front-drive and 17 and 24 with AWD.

The Outlander is carlike. It has accurate steering, a firm but supple all-independent suspension and good  roadability--thanks partly to a novel aluminum roof that saves weight up high for surer handling. A pedal with a linear action controls the brakes, which proved to be very effective during a panic stop. 

Even the base $20,380-$21,780 ES is well-equipped, with such items as air conditioning, cruise control, tilt wheel, AM/FM/CD/MP3 player, split-folding rear seat and power mirrors, windows and locks with remote keyless entry.

The $23,780-$25,180 SE adds a power sunroof, cloth/leather upholstery, keyless starting, upgraded sound system and rear privacy glass. Its leather-wrapped wheel has handy cruise and audio controls.

The highlight of the $24,380-$25,780 XLS is the V-6 engine, but this version also adds automatic climate control, a third-row stowable seat mainly for kids, wireless cell phone link and wider (55-series) tires on 18-inch wheels. Other models have 70-series tires on 16-inch wheels.

Options include DVD entertainment and navigation systems and a Luxury Package for the XLS that contains leather upholstery, heated front seats, power driver's seat, rain-sensing wipers and xenon headlights.

The Outlander is essentially a family vehicle, so all versions have front-side and side-curtain air bags, traction control and an anti-skid system, besides anti-lock all-disc brakes.

The Outlander calls for a little extra effort to enter. It easily seats four tall occupants in its first and second rows, with an especially roomy second-row area. The second-row seat tumbles forward for fairly easy access to the third-row seat.

Occupants sit high in the generally quiet interior, which has only a so-so appearance with just a small amount of padded materials. Front seats are especially comfortable for long-distance driving, and the deeply recessed analog white-on-black gauges can be quickly read. Climate controls are large.

Front cupholders are conveniently placed, and there's a handy pop-out driver cupholder to the left of the steering wheel. But the driver's power window controls are set too far forward on the door, causing him or her to accidentally open a rear window instead of a front one..There's decent cabin storage, with a deep covered console storage bin, large glove compartment and storage/bottle-holder bins in all doors.

The cargo compartment is large, with a wide opening.

Mitsubishi is known among car buffs for its rally-car-inspired autos. The Outlander is tamer and more practical, but still provides driving enjoyment.

Visit DanJedlicka.com for more road tests, interviews, and classic car articles.Visit DanJedlicka.com where veteran auto writer Dan Jedlicka reviews the latest cars and trucks in an easily understood but detailed manner. In addition, Dan's Web site also includes colorful classic and collectible car articles, a letters column and candid interviews with auto-field personalities.

Dan Jedlicka

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Dan Jedlicka joined the Chicago Sun-Times in February 1968 as a business news reporter and was named auto editor later that year. He has reviewed more than 4,000 new vehicles for the Sun-Times--far more than any newspaper auto writer in the country. Jedlicka also reviewed vehicles for Microsoft Corp.'s MSN Autos Internet site from January, 1996, to June, 2008.

Jedlicka remained auto editor at the Sun-Times until October, 2008, and continued writing for the newspaper's AutoTimes section, which he started in 1992, until February, 2009. While continuing his auto writings at the Sun-Times, he served as assistant financial editor of that newspaper from 1970 to 1973, when he began his automotive column.

He has appeared on numerous radio and television shows, including NBC's "Today," ABC's "20/20" and "The CBS Evening News." He was a host, consultant and writer for Fox-TV Channel 32's 1991 New Car Preview show and that Chicago-based station's 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995 Chicago Auto Show Previews.

Jedlicka's auto articles have been printed in national magazines, including Esquire and Harper's. His auto columns have been reprinted in U.S. government publications and economic textbooks and he is profiled in the "World's Greatest Auto Show" history book about the Chicago Auto Show. In late 1975, Jedlicka was host and technical advisor for three one-hour television specials, "Auto Test 76," which aired nationally on PBS and were the first nationally televised auto road test shows.

In 1995, Jedlicka was the recipient of the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois Inc.'s Consumer Education Award, given annually to a person who has gained distinction in the field of consumer education. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award in the Media category and inducted into the Legends of Motorsports Guild at the Carquest World of wheels custom car show in Chicago in January, 2006.

Jedlicka was a member of the North American Car and Truck of the Year jury, composed of a select number of auto journalists from throughout the country, from 1995 until 2009. From 2010 to 2012, he was a member of Consumer Digest magazine's auto experts panel that gave Best Buy new vehicle recommendations.

He is a 1987 graduate of the Bob Bondurant Race Drivers School and later of the BMW "M" and Skip Barber Advanced Driving schools. He was a member of the U.S. team that participated in the 1987 1,000-mile Mille Miglia race/rally in Italy and has been a race winner at the Chicago area's Santa Fe Speedway.

Jedlicka has owned 25 classic cars, including 1950s and 1960s Ferraris and 1950s and 1960s Porsches, a 1965 Corvette, a 1967 Maserati and a 1957 Studebaker supercharged Golden Hawk. Jedlicka resides with his wife, Suzanne, in the Frank Lloyd Wright historic district of Oak Park. They have two children, James and Michele.

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