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Mudfest 2013: Tom's Hardware Helps Test 23 SUVs

Mitsubishi Outlander

It's sometimes easy to forget that Mitsubishi manufactures vehicles other than the performance-oriented Lancer Evolution. We have nothing against the brand, but a majority of its product line-up consists of mediocre vehicles overdo for a redesign, and the Lancer Evolution is the only exception. Mitsubishi is attempting to change its image with a greater focus on fuel economy though, starting with the new 2014 Outlander crossover vehicle.

We were intrigued by the Outlander from the start, but it ended up being one of the most popular vehicles during the event. Everyone wanted to drive it, so it took a while for us to get some seat time with the crossover and Mitsubishi’s very friendly and easy-going PR rep. The car on-hand was a well-equipped Outlander SE with S-AWC and Touring package; Mitsubishi left the V6-equipped GT at home.

The first thing we noticed about the Outlander was its sedate styling that borders on blandness. Heck, the Honda Crosstour is more exciting to look at, and I died a little inside coming to that conclusion. Fortunately, I also think the styling is more appealing in person than pictures, though the copper brown color of our sample didn't do the Outlander any favors, either.

Sitting down inside the Outlander, we found a lot of soft-touch surfaces. The driver-focused layout is simple, but functional. Mitsubishi employs a standard double-DIN infotainment system with a touchscreen LCD. Unfortunately, the 6.1-inch solution is mediocre, bearing some resemblance to the Mitsubishi-built Chrysler 430N unit in terms of function and feel. The Bluetooth module appears to be separate from the rest of the system, since the pairing process was completely voice command-driven with no link to the head unit. Mitsubishi touts this as a next-generation HD navigation system with 3D mapping, but we saw nothing "next-gen" about it.

We did manage to pair our HTC Droid DNA with the Outlander, though it took longer than the simple task should have. The fourth-gen iPad connected and played music without issue. Other tech features include adaptive cruise control, forward collision mitigation, and lane departure warning. There wasn’t the time or the traffic where we tested the Outlander to try those features out, though we plan on taking a deeper look at the vehicle soon.

The Outlander's power source is a new 2.4-liter SOHC inline-four engine (4J12). Mitsubishi pairs it to a CVT that is smooth enough, but not overly exciting otherwise. The Outlander's stand-out feature is Mitsubishi's Super All Wheel Control (S-AWC) all-wheel drive system with four selectable drive modes. We didn’t expect Mitsubishi to equip its crossover with this very compelling AWD technology lifted from the Lancer Evolution, but it did, and it took us by surprise.

We left the S-AWC system in normal mode, letting it do its thing automatically (as suggested by our rep on the road and dirt courses). The car handled both environments well, exhibiting unwavering grip throughout. The balanced system did not demonstrate any real understeering or oversteering tendencies. If only the Outlander came with the Lancer Evolution’s 2.0-liter turbocharged motor, Mitsubishi might be onto something outlandishly cool.

Vehicle Specifications
VehicleMitsubishi Outlander
Trim levelSE
Engine2.4 L MIVEC inline-four (4J12)
TransmissionCVT
DrivetrainSuper All Wheel Control (S-AWC)
InfotainmentNext-generation MMCS navigation system 3D mapping (MMCS)
Notable featuresAdaptive cruise controlForward collision mitigationLane departure warningRear-view camera
Fuel economy24 city, 29 highway
MSRP$32,720
  • Super_Nova
    Very slow newsweek
    Reply
  • flong777
    Interesting but with so little time per vehicle, the results are obviously suspect. I believe the Wrangler is the best off-road vehicle, not sure about the rest. But that conclusion come from more in depth reviews which actually "review" the vehicle.
    Reply
  • Johnny_C13
    Well, at least the Grand Cherokee can (literally) run (on) Crysis... but I wonder if it starts faster with an SSD?
    Reply
  • MU_Engineer
    Anybody find it funny that the vehicle largely based on WWII era technology does the best in the offroad tests while the newer, high-tech "tall wagons with AWD" get stuck in more than a couple inches of snow? Just like tablets, phones, and laptops aren't going to make desktops go away, unit-body transverse-engine four-banger cars aren't going to replace body-on-frame trucks with solid axles and leaf springs when you need to do real work. The even funnier thing is that an "ancient" carbureted pushrod V8 and manual transmission would have made the Wrangler perform *better* in the offroad tests than the 8-speed slushbox and fancy twin-cam V6 car engine.
    Reply
  • ammaross
    Stopped reading when I saw the Toyota 4Runner wasn't in the mix.
    Reply
  • ammaross
    Stopped reading when I saw the Toyota 4Runner wasn't in the mix.
    Reply
  • tuanies
    10968917 said:
    Interesting but with so little time per vehicle, the results are obviously suspect. I believe the Wrangler is the best off-road vehicle, not sure about the rest. But that conclusion come from more in depth reviews which actually "review" the vehicle.

    Its a great offroad vehicle for the price. The other two are capable vehicles, but the buyer demographic will never take them offroad.

    10969315 said:
    Anybody find it funny that the vehicle largely based on WWII era technology does the best in the offroad tests while the newer, high-tech "tall wagons with AWD" get stuck in more than a couple inches of snow? Just like tablets, phones, and laptops aren't going to make desktops go away, unit-body transverse-engine four-banger cars aren't going to replace body-on-frame trucks with solid axles and leaf springs when you need to do real work. The even funnier thing is that an "ancient" carbureted pushrod V8 and manual transmission would have made the Wrangler perform *better* in the offroad tests than the 8-speed slushbox and fancy twin-cam V6 car engine.

    Mechanical technology has its uses but the WWII Era vehicles are awful for comfort and driving feel. Not going to lie though, the G-wagen is one sexy beast IMO. The Wrangler is only a 6-speed auto iirc, but there's a company that offers HEMI conversions :D.

    10969432 said:
    Stopped reading when I saw the Toyota 4Runner wasn't in the mix.

    Toyota didn't submit any vehicles, disappointingly. Was hoping the 5th Gen 4Runner and new RAV4 would be there :(.
    Reply
  • joe gamer
    Holy crap these are expensive vehicles, who is buying these monsters? I make $60k a year and live comfortably but there is no way I could afford any of these. The HYUNDAI clocked in at over $35k....The painfully anemic Subaru(with what has to be the worst manual I've ever used) is still over $20K and it's terrible, poor power, poor gas mileage, poor off road performance, ugly styling, shitty electronics, and only moderate interior room...but that's the only one in my price range? How poor am I exactly?

    Seriously the WRX transmission is quite nice, how the hell did all of their others end up to be so godawful?

    Guess I'm stuck with my 1999 Isuzu Rodeo until I can win the lottery...oil burning, gas guzzling eyesore it may be but hey the money I saved will buy me a decades worth of gas.
    Reply
  • tuanies
    10969918 said:
    Holy crap these are expensive vehicles, who is buying these monsters? I make $60k a year and live comfortably but there is no way I could afford any of these. The HYUNDAI clocked in at over $35k....The painfully anemic Subaru(with what has to be the worst manual I've ever used) is still over $20K and it's terrible, poor power, poor gas mileage, poor off road performance, ugly styling, shitty electronics, and only moderate interior room...but that's the only one in my price range? How poor am I exactly?

    Seriously the WRX transmission is quite nice, how the hell did all of their others end up to be so godawful?

    Guess I'm stuck with my 1999 Isuzu Rodeo until I can win the lottery...oil burning, gas guzzling eyesore it may be but hey the money I saved will buy me a decades worth of gas.

    Nothing wrong with an old Isuzu, before GM raped and pillaged them :(. Cars are so expensive nowadays, you're about as poor as I am, but add in two kids and a wife. The WRX has a nice manual because its a performance vehicle. Manuals in economy cars are usually sloppy. long throws and not very exciting, which is why I hate to say to get the auto in economy cars. But, the XV Crosstrek could probably be fixed with a short throw shifter, that usually does wonders.

    Reply
  • JPNpower
    Why are you using SUVs in the mud!!! These things belong in parking lots at the mall!
    Reply