2017 Mitsubishi Outlander Review

2017 Mitsubishi Outlander - Freshened for 2017, Mitsubishi's Outlander intends to contend.


The Mitsubishi Outlander is a compact crossover with standard seating for seven passengers. It is available with front- or all-wheel drive and four- or six-cylinder power. Direct competitors include the Kia Sorento and Nissan Rogue, while five-passenger competitors include the Ford Escape, Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4. Changes for 2017 include freshened interior, new audio system with Apple Car Play and Android Auto support, available heated steering wheel and additional safety features.

Four trim levels are offered: ES, SE, SEL and GT. All of them save the GT get a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 166 horsepower. GT models get a 3.0-liter V6 that provides 224 horsepower. The four cylinder comes with a continuously variable transmission and the V6 gets a six-speed automatic. All-wheel drive is standard on the GT and optional on the ES, SE and SEL. Towing capacity with the four is 1500 pounds and the V6 can tow up to 3500 pounds.

Standard safety features include antilock brakes, stability and traction control, rear-view camera, hill-start assist and dual-front, front-side, driver-knee and side-curtain airbags. Optional safety features include 360-degree camera, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-departure warning and forward-collision warning with brake assist.

Outlander prices start at $23,495 and climb to $31,695. All Outlanders have a $895 destination charge and are built in Japan.

The 2.4-liter four-cylinder that's available in most Outlander models delivers adequate motivation for around-town cruising. It's certainly no powerhouse and lacks the punch to keep up with traffic when saddled with a load of passengers. The syrupy CV transmission doesn't help matters. The GT's V6 provides a noticeable improvement in acceleration in all situations and mates well to the smooth-shifting six-speed transmission.

Outlander's all-wheel-drive system does not have a low range and is not intended for severe off-road use. It does have an electronically locking differential and can transfer power left to right for improved traction.

The 2.4-liter four with all-wheel drive is EPA rated at 24 mpg city and 29 mpg highway. Those numbers are a tick behind most competitors. Routine suburban commuting will likely yield about 25 mpg overall. Expect that number to climb if you throw in some gentle highway commuting and dip if you spend all day slogging in urban traffic.

Most Outlander models are tuned for ride comfort rather than athletic cornering. The suspension soaks up potholes and expansion joints nicely. However, there's a fair amount of rebound and head toss on badly broken roads. GT models feel more buttoned down with little impact on overall ride quality.

A trifle numb and over boosted, the steering tracks straight and true on the highway. Brakes have good stopping power but stopping distances increase with load. The pedal is nicely weighted and easy to modulate.

With additional sound-deadening material for 2017, Outlander is quieter than ever before. That said, there's still a fair amount of road noise on rough surfaces and the four-cylinder engine drones in hard acceleration.

Outlander's interior gets a complete makeover for 2017, sporting a fresh design, new materials and enhanced layout. The upgrade includes a heavy dose of soft-touch surfaces and a dollop of brightwork. The overall look is refined, modern and upscale. Drivers face twin dials flanking a programmable display screen. The center stack boasts an available 7-inch touch-screen display that allows for pinch-and-zoom and clearly marked climate controls. The only downside is ancillary buttons and knobs that are sprinkled throughout with little rhyme or reason.

Front seats are somewhat narrow but offer good padding for long-haul comfort. Leg room is acceptable and head room good. Those over 6-foot might want a few more inches of rearward travel in the seat track. Outward visibility is great and entry/exit a snap. Second-row seats offer adult-size comfort as long as the front seats aren't pushed all the way back. Third-row seats are strictly for children.

Cargo space behind the third-row seats is a measly 10.3 cubic feet - barely enough for a weekend's worth of luggage. Fold the second row and there is a reasonable 34.2 cubic feet. All seats folded yields a respectable 63.3 cubic feet. Interior storage is merely adequate with a few open and covered bins up front. Most competitors offer more storage overall.

Outlander made a living at being affordable and reliable. With the 2017 redesign, it's significantly more modern and user-friendly. Well worth nothing are the safety and technology enhancements that keep Outlander competitive in the segment. Downsides include the modestly powerful base engine and middling EPA numbers. Still, Outlander's compact dimensions and versatility make it a good option for urban shoppers looking to maximize value.

Mark Bilek

Mark Bilek is the Senior Director of Communications and Technology for the Chicago Auto Trade Association and the General Manager for DriveChicago.com. He is also responsible for developing and maintaining the Chicago Auto Show Web site.

Mark has been reviewing vehicles for more than two decades. Previously, he was associate publisher at Consumer Guide, where he oversaw publication of Consumer Guide Car & Truck Test, Consumer Guide's Used Car Book, and ConsumerGuide.com. He was also responsible for publication of "Collectible Automobile" and various hardcover automotive titles. In 2001 and 2002 he served as president of a Midwest Automotive Media Association. Mark has appeared on NBC TV, ABC TV, Fox News, WGN and MotorTrend TV as an automotive consultant. He hosts the Drive Chicago radio show on WLS 890 AM and was a regular guest on WGN Radio's Steve & Johnnie show. Mark lives in the northwest suburbs with his wife and three sons.