The Mitsubishi Outlander is smooth, quiet and comfortable. Outlander's long wheelbase and carlike suspension work together to provide a comfortable ride. There is little road or wind noise. The primary sound that can be heard is wind noise from the large side mirrors, and we would not want to give up the nice, big mirrors. The Mitsubishi isn't as smooth as the Honda and some road vibration can be felt through the steering wheel. Two-wheel-drive Outlanders feel smoother and peppier than four-wheel-drive models and work quite well for zipping along on big-city freeways.
One of the first things we noticed about the Outlander is that it feels very stable at high speeds. The Mitsubishi feels more stable than the Honda CR-V In crosswinds and at higher speeds. The Outlander's 103.3-inch wheelbase (the distance between front and rear tires) is longer than that of the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, and Subaru Forester.
The Outlander leans in corners, but handles well. Steering is on the slow side and there's a small amount of play in the steering, but it's easy to steer it smoothly, providing a nice ride for your passengers. This is an easy vehicle to drive.
Like many vehicles in this category, the Outlander has disc brakes in front and drums in the rear. Anti-lock brakes are optional, and none of the models we've driven was equipped with ABS. But the Outlander stops promptly, and stops calmly and quickly in a panic stop. It's easy to modulate the brakes to prevent wheel lockup. We recommend getting the ABS, however, as it allows the driver to brake and steer at the same time in an emergency stopping situation.
2004 models offer more power than the 2003 models (an increase of 20 horsepower). That's good news because we were disappointed by the power in the 2003 model. The 2004 Outlander is significantly more spirited, though it's still no rocket ship. With 160 horsepower, Mitsubishi's 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine matches the Honda CR-V's output and nearly matches the Subaru Forester. The Toyota RAV-4 offers 161 horsepower. Mitsubishi tuned the engine to deliver more torque at lower engine speeds while also providing more top-end horsepower by revising the intake and exhaust systems. Part of the credit for being able to do this goes to Mitsubishi's MIVEC electronic variable-valve setup, which helps the engine to operate at peak power and efficiency throughout the rev range. Even with its boost in power, the engine is rated by the EPA at 21/27 miles per gallon City/Highway in a two-wheel-drive Outlander.
The four-speed automatic transmission has been upgraded significantly for 2004 as well. The four-speed Sportronic automatic can be left in Drive and used like a regular automatic, or the driver can slide the shifter to one side to select gears manually.
The Outlander is built on a rigid chassis and benefits from Mitsubishi's extensive experience in international rally racing. rallies and raids. The Outlander benefits from such body-strengthening techniques as MASH seam welding and what Mitsubishi calls its RISE design (Reinforced Impact Safety Evolution). Much of this technology was developed from the company's winning efforts in the Paris-Dakar raid as well as its involvement in the World Rally Championship with the Lancer Evo. The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, a lobbying organization supported by the insurance industry, gave the Outlander its highest possible rating in its frontal crash-testing program, though it rated Poor in the side-impact category.