• Third-generation model to arrive in the U.S. summer 2013.
  • Now accommodates seven passengers.
  • Plug-in hybrid version to follow later.

Although it will not arrive in the U.S. until next summer, the all-new, third-generation Mitsubishi Outlander debuted in the automaker's home market of Japan last week. The new, Japanese-spec Outlander is larger and more advanced, with 7-passenger seating and a suite of driver assistance technologies that Mitsubishi calls eAssist. A plug-in hybrid version is expected to follow the conventionally powered Outlander, arriving in late 2013 or early 2014.

We got our first look at the redesigned Outlander earlier this year at the Geneva Auto Show. That vehicle featured new styling with features that Mitsubishi indicated would eventually inspire styling on its other models. A plug-in hybrid (PHEV) Outlander also hit the auto show circuit this year. At the Paris show, we examined the Outlander PHEV, which could be the first all-wheel-drive plug-in hybrid in the U.S. when it arrives.

Both the next-gen conventional gasoline and PHEV Outlander models will likely be powered by a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine. A smaller motor than the standard 2.4-liter in the current model, the new powerplant could improve efficiency. An eco-friendly driving system that encourages an efficient driving style could also promote better fuel economy. A V6 option for the top-of-the-line Outlander could come later.

An efficiency improvement would certainly be an achievement, especially considering the next-gen Outlander is larger and accommodates seven passengers to the outgoing model's 5-passenger capacity.

Mitsubishi also announced its eAssist driver assistance technology package, aimed at improving safety. Not to be confused with General Motors's mild hybridization setup, available on a wide range of its models, Mitsubishi's eAssist includes such features as lane departure warning and forward collision warning. These systems could make the new Outlander a more attractive choice for safety-conscious family vehicle shoppers.

Although many details on the U.S.-spec 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander remain unknown (pricing, fuel economy and an exact arrival date), shoppers considering a new-vehicle purchase in the next six months should stay on the lookout for the new model. Mitsubishi says the 2014 Outlander will deliver efficiency that's among the best in its class, and space for more passengers is always a plus, provided it comes without sacrificing fuel economy.

What it means to you: Shoppers with a 7-passenger crossover in mind should add the next-generation Outlander to their list, provided they can afford to wait a few months.

author photo

Nick Palermo is an automotive writer and lifelong car nut. He follows new and late-model used vehicles for AutoTrader.com, writes about vintage cars for Hemmings Classic Wheels and blogs on all things automotive at LivingVroom. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and twins.

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