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April 24, 2013

Changing Faces: What the new-for-2014 Mitsubishi Outlander offers Women Drivers

Mitsubishi transported a group of journalists to central Oregon for the introduction of the 2014 Outlander, a seven-passenger crossover utility vehicle. The location in Redmond, Oregon--with wide-open roads, gentle hills and vistas to swoon over--was the kind of place the Outlander fits right in.

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“We’re definitely here to stay. People always question us because of Suzuki’s demise but that has nothing to do with us,” said Masatoshi Hasegawa, Executive VP of Mitsubishi.

I had been wondering what happened to Mitsubishi as I hadn’t heard anything about the company in quite awhile. 

So I asked Roger Yasukawa, Manager of Public Relations, “Why does it feel like you have disappeared?”

He answered, “I think one reason is that we did not have a new product launch besides i MiEV, the compact electric car. In the next 15 months, we have back-to-back product launches.  And this fall we will be introducing the Mirage, a small compact car, to the U.S.”

2014_Mitsubishi_Outlander_rear_Exterior_SE_4Yasukawa explained that the launch of the Mitsubishi Outlander gave them something new to draw attention to the brand. 

More good news: the company is spending a greater amount of marketing dollars than ever before. And, as we all know, marketing is the difference between product awareness and off the radar.

To get back in the groove, Mitsubishi is expanding their digital platform with the addition of a social media person.

“We have to build on a lot of things… social media is one of them,” admitted Yasukawa. “It’s at the level where OEMs are communicating directly with consumers. We are looking at how we can use it to communicate better.

“I understand that social media is certainly a big part of the purchasing decision… it’s part of the experience of it all. But, the ultimate decision is that you have to walk into the dealer. I would say all generations—not just younger—are looking at social media.”

2014_Mitsubishi_Outlander_Premium_dash_03That said, the 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander received a complete redo inside and out. The third generation carries off a cleaner, more modern look and has reduced its weight by 220 pounds.

 “We now have a vehicle that is among the lightest in its class,” said Hasegawa, noting a mileage of 25-city/35- hwy. The new model, with its sharper side profile and smiley face, has also reduced the Cd from .36 to .33.

On the inside designers have incorporated soft touch dash panels, hi-res displays, available comfortable (as tested!) leather seats, touches of wood paneling and high gloss black accents.

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The overall effect is comfortably spare. “We don’t put a lot of buttons in our vehicles…it’s our intention to keep it simple and clean,” explained Hasegawa.

There’s a choice of engines: a 2.4-liter, 4 cylinder or a 3.0-liter V6. We tried both and I’d opt for the bigger engine because it felt more responsive and quicker on the uptake.

The push-button controlled system has four driving modes: Eco which turns orange or red if you’re not hip to green driving, Normal, Snow and Lock (for maximum traction). 

We maneuvered the Outlander on an off-road course to showcase its tough side. The SUV was totally confident over steep grades and sloughing through dirt and rocks. And that would probably be the extent of off-road content that most owners would pursue. I must note that I sat in the back seat for a good part of the trip and it was a pleasant experience. That says a lot about the capability of this SUV.

WHAT STANDS OUT:

SOUND: Truly, I noticed the quiet factor in the Outlander. That is due to everything from redesigned engine mounts, door mirrors, windshield wipers and the dash to the floor carpets and headliner.

2014_Mitsubishi_Outlander_Fold_Flat_Seats__02CARGO: The underfloor storage compartment in the back will stow your wet gear, umbrellas or other small items. There are many different seating configurations and seats are easy to push down and pull up. The engineers noted that the third row was created for soccer moms or “extenuating circumstances.” In other words, while it was plenty cushy to sit in, most people probably won’t use it.

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SOME NOTEWORTHY OPTIONS:
 
•    Leather seating surfaces and wood grain appearance trim
•    Leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob
•    Heated front seats
•    Automatic front dual-zone climate control
•    Electric power tailgate (operated via center console switch or key fob)
•    710-watt Rockford Fosgate sound system with 9 speakers
•    Navigation system with 7-in. High Definition touch screen; 3-D mapping and point-of-interest information
•    Rearview camera system
•    Adaptive Cruise Control
•    Forward Collision Mitigation
•    Lane Departure Warning
•    Super-wide beam High-Intensity Discharge headlights
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In addition to launching the colorful Mirage next fall, Mitsubishi’s next big thing will be the U.S. introduction of the 2015 Outlander PHEV, an electric plug-in hybrid SUV that is currently operating in Japan.

“Moving forward you will see the commitment beginning with 2014 model,” confirmed Hasegawa.

Let the games begin!

Pricing for the 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander starts at $20,000.

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