The 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander Gets Complete Makeover: New Features and Prices Make it a Standout in its Class
Brasada Ranch, Redmond, Oregon: Attractive new styling, more powerful and efficient engines and some of the latest creature comforts, even at the entry-level model, define the 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander; it’s a crossover sport utility vehicle that seats seven. Mitsubishi says the third-generation Outlander has some “ground-breaking safety features for its class”—and we agree. It is also the only SUV at its price in its segment with three-row seating that comes standard. The new model also gets improved aerodynamics and better sound insulation; high-end technologies include adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning and a crash-mitigation system. While Mitsubishi has not announced exact pricing, the new model will be priced close to the outgoing version, with an impressive array of added content over the previous generation.
Mitsubishi brought a group of automotive journalists to the luxurious Brasada Ranch that is nestled into the sheep ranch country overlooking the Cascade Mountains. The full-service resort has a host of activities and amenities, as well as a spa, with a collection of great roads nearby for trying out the new model. The Outlander has undergone a complete redesign; every panel of sheet metal and glass is new and it’s clear that Mitsubishi has done its homework. As the crossover SUV (or CUV) segment has continued to heat up and displace station wagons and minivans, there seems to be a race to the top of the crossover heap. Even BMW has discontinued its popular wagon version of the 3-series, with the peppy little X1, and Toyota’s RAV4 has now done away with its three rows of seating.
The Outlander competes with the Toyota RAV4, Honda CRV, Kia Sorento and Hyundai Santa Fe. The Mitsu ute also stands out visually in the crowd. Its front end has been completely transformed from a blocky me-too to a smooth, almost futuristic shape. A big air dam sits below a streamlined grille with slats recall those neon tracks in Tron; uniquely shaped halogen headlamps wrap gently toward the sides, which boast beefy wheel wells and broad shoulders. Sixteen-inch steel wheels are standard on entry-level models, with 18-inch alloys riding underneath all other models.
The SUV's sides sweep backwards with sleek tailoring that keeps this family hauler from looking too bulky, while the rear is a clean, smooth curve with simple bulbs and lots of glass. All this nipping, tucking and sculpting has paid off richly in terms of aerodynamics: the vehicle has seven percent less drag than last year’s version, which brings added quietness and improved fuel economy. Mitsubishi also claims its Outlander gets best-in-class 31 mpg, which also comes as a benefit derived from the SUVs weight reduction. Inside, the Outlander gets a makeover, as well. It’s been gutted and remodeled to have the same sculpted and space look as the outside. It’s also bigger, with more luggage space and fold-flat second- and third-row seats that make for a cargo floor that’s more than a foot longer than previous models.
We found it easy to slip in and out of the first- and second-row seats, with good ergonomics and good visibility. The center stack houses either a monochromatic display or a 6-inch touchscreen audio control system; a 7-inch high-definition panel with navigation is also available as an option. The stack is wrapped in gorgeous, glossy black trim on up-market Outlanders; it sits high and within easy reach on all models. Every seating area, from the driver’s command center to the often-an-afterthought third row, has been redesigned for 2014, which has resulted in more comfortable roosts for everyone. Driver’s seats are 6-way adjustable; passengers get 4-way adjustments. Second-row seats split and fold 60/40, while the third row splits and folds 50/50. It’s fair to say the third row of this mid-sizer will be best appreciated for parcels, pets, or for riders that are onboard for short distances.
The new Outlander is powered by a choice of two engines: a 2.4-liter inline-four-cylinder engine is updated and makes 166 horsepower and 162 lb.-ft. of torque, or a 3.0-liter V-6 that delivers 224 horses and 215 lb.-ft. (the V6 is available only on the highest end GT model). The standard four-cylinder is mated to an improved continuous variable transmission (CVT), while the bigger motor gets hitched to a six-speed automatic that has also been reworked. We drove Outlanders on a ride and drive of close to 200 miles, trying out both engines and were impressed by the power of the smaller engine that was confidence-inspiring in passing, but has a bit of harsh noise at slower speeds, especially when motoring in a spirited fashion. We loved the paddle shifters on the V-6 model and found its transmission shifts with ease and precision, when using the paddles.
Also available on SE and GT models (the mid-range and high end of the lineup) is Mitsubishi’s special flavor of part-time, all-wheel drive, which the company calls super all wheel control (S-AWC) . This impressive and award-winning system grew out of Mitsu’s renowned rally technologies and delivers some pretty impressive handling on rough turf. The system transfers torque from the front to the rear with slippage and can move enhance traction from side-to-side, when needed. Our drive included an off-road track, which showed the Outlander’s all-wheel-drive prowess, responsive steering and good turning ratio. S-AWC also can be customized according to road conditions, which helps with fuel efficiency: four settings, ECO, Normal, Snow and Lock, let you choose how much power the two sets of tires need – and therefore how much gas can be saved when only two wheels need the power. S-AWC also includes brake control and electronic power steering control for additional stability and steering response, especially in slippery conditions.
In addition to being 200 pounds lighter than the 2013 model, Outlander has a more refined road
presence with MacPherson front struts and a rear multi-link suspension. The ride is stiffer, and there’s less noise and vibration makings its way into the cabin as a result. The 2014 Outlander hosts a bevy of safety technologies, including stability and traction control, hill start assist, ABS with brake assist and EBD, a Tire Pressure Monitoring system and seven airbags – note: there aren’t bags for the third row.
A few optional safety features include adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and a frontal collision sensor system that applies the brakes automatically in the event that a head-on crash is imminent; we had the opportunity to test this Front Crash Mitigation System, which brings the vehicle to a complete halt at speeds up to 18 mph. Outlander is available in four models: ES and SE with front wheel drive, SE S-AWC and GT S-AWC (both of these are all-wheel-drive models).
Standard equipment on the ES includes standard equipment package include air conditioning with micron filter; tilt and telescopic steering wheel adjustment; electric power steering; redesigned steering wheel with easy-to-use cruise control and audio system controls; premium security alarm system with remote keyless entry and engine immobilizer; an exquisite-sounding 6-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3-compatible audio system; intermittent rear wiper with washer; and halogen headlamps. The SE model adds fog lights and sideview mirrors with integrated LED turn signals, as well as 18-inch tires and alloy wheels. Inside are heated front seats and dual-zone front climate control, a leather-wrapped shift know and glossy black framing around the center stack, while technology enhancements include a 6-inch touchscreen and multi-information display, push-button engine start/stop and rear view camera. SE also can be ordered with S-AWC. At the top of the lineup is the GT with S-AWC. This version comes with the V6 motor and 6-speed automatic tranny, as well as HID headlamps with auto on/off and chrome trim around the exterior and wood grain trim inside. Both SE and GT Outlanders can be ordered with Premium or Touring packages, which up the lux factor with leather seating, bombastic audio systems and other high-end touches. Eco-minded drivers also can look forward to a hybrid model, already on sale in Japan and coming to the U.S. for 2014, according to Mitsubishi.