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2015 Mitsubishi Outlander: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader March 2015

We've always seen the Outlander crossover SUV as an unsung hero of sorts, yet the 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander continues to toil in relative obscurity. That's just not right, because the latest Outlander looks suave, gets solid fuel economy and even boasts an available V6 engine. The only real problem is that a lot of shoppers don't know that it exists.

When you consider all that the Outlander has to offer, it's a wonder that this crossover doesn't get more credit. In addition to its generous standard features and rewarding performance, it comes standard with a third-row seat for the little ones, which is a rarity in this class. Our advice? Don't let the Outlander's low profile scare you away. This is a fully competitive crossover with more-than-competitive pricing. Let the test drive be your guide.

What's New for 2015?

The 2015 Outlander comes standard with Mitsubishi's Fuse voice-command system, Bluetooth connectivity and an iPod/USB port. The Outlander also receives minor tweaks, including revised exterior styling and a standard leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob.

What We Like

Good 4-cylinder fuel economy; standard 3-row seating; strong optional V6; well-equipped SE is a great value; pleasant interior

What We Don't

Forgettable 4-cylinder acceleration; third row's strictly for kids

How Much?

$24,045-$29,045

Fuel Economy

The Outlander's base engine is a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder that makes 166 horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque. The transmission is a continuously variable automatic (CVT). Fuel economy with front-wheel drive (FWD) is 25 miles per gallon in the city and 31 mpg on the highway, which is pretty decent for a crossover. Even with optional all-wheel drive (AWD), the 4-cylinder Outlander achieves a respectable 24 mpg city/29 mpg hwy.

Standard on the Outlander GT is a 3.0-liter V6 that pumps out 224 hp and 215 lb-ft. All-wheel drive is mandatory, as is a 6-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy remains a strong point at 20 mpg city/28 mpg hwy.

Standard Features & Options

The Outlander is offered in three trim levels: ES, SE and GT.

Note that the ES only features FWD, while the SE can be had with FWD or AWD. The GT comes only with AWD.

The ES ($24,045) starts with 16-inch steel wheels, heated mirrors, full power accessories, a monochromatic driver information display, a height-adjustable driver seat, a leather-wrapped tilt-telescopic steering wheel, a leather shift knob, single-zone automatic climate control, Fuse voice controls, Bluetooth and a 6-speaker CD audio system with iPod/USB connectivity.

The SE ($25,045) steps up to 18-in alloy wheels, fog lights, color-keyed side-mirror housings with LED turn-signal indicators, keyless entry/start, a color driver information display, upgraded gauges, leatherette/fabric upholstery, heated front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, HD Radio, a 6.1-in touchscreen interface and a rearview camera. AWD adds $2,000 to the SE's price.

The GT ($29,045) scores the exclusive V6 engine, chrome exterior trim, automatic xenon headlights, LED taillights, rain-sensing wipers, wood-grain trim and paddle shifters.

The SE and GT offer a pair of impressive options packages. The Premium package adds a 9-speaker Rockford Fosgate audio system, satellite radio, leather upholstery, a sunroof, a power tailgate and an 8-way power driver's seat. The Touring package consists of the Premium package plus a navigation system (with a higher-resolution 7-in screen), adaptive cruise control with frontal-collision mitigation and a lane-departure warning system.

All Outlanders can be equipped with a rear-seat DVD entertainment system and blue LED interior lighting, among other piecemeal options.

In terms of cargo capacity, the 2015 Outlander provides about 34 cu ft. behind the second-row seat and 63 cu ft. with both rear rows folded flat. The first number is fine by class standards, but the second is a bit below average. Take a look for yourself at the dealership to see if the Outlander's cargo capacity is adequate.

Safety

The 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander is outfitted with 4-wheel anti-lock brakes, stability control, hill-start assist and seven airbags (front, front-side, driver-knee and full-length side-curtain).

Also offered are a lane-departure warning system and adaptive cruise control with frontal-collision mitigation (including automatic braking). However, these aids are only obtainable via the pricey Touring package.

In government crash-testing, the 2015 Outlander AWD received five stars out of five overall, including four stars for front impacts and five stars for side impacts. Strangely, the Outlander FWD dropped to four stars overall.

In crash-testing by the independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Outlander came up aces, earning the top Good rating in every category.

Behind the Wheel

In our interior evaluation, we were pleasantly surprised by the Outlander's upgrades relative to its predecessor. Soft-touch materials are in abundant supply, and they're complemented by crisp gauges (especially in the SE and GT) and an overall sense of restraint that's rare these days. Remarkably, even the base ES gets standard automatic climate control, although the barely pricier SE has enough desirable extras that we think it's a no-brainer upgrade.

Seat comfort is solid for everyone, except for any kids stuck in the cramped third row, but we're not complaining; we know a lot of parents will be grateful just to have those two extra seat belts if needed. The second row deserves special mention for its sliding/reclining seats with generous legroom. Overall, this is a well-thought-out and nicely executed cabin that could teach the Honda CR-V a lesson or two about perceived quality.

Under the hood, the base 4-cylinder engine seems rather uninspired when you give it the spurs, though the same could be said for most base engines in this class. More troubling is the CVT's tendency to maintain a high engine speed during acceleration, which can produce an intrusive drone. The V6, by contrast, is a joy, providing eager thrust along with a cool little snarl above 4,000 revolutions per minute. Remember, the V6 uses a conventional 6-speed automatic instead of the CVT, which only helps its cause from a performance standpoint.

On the road, the 2015 Outlander feels somewhat softer and more compliant than the previous-generation model, but the handling is still safe and secure during spirited driving. Where the current model really shines, though, is on the highway, where improved noise suppression noticeably boosts the refinement factor.

Other Cars to Consider

2015 Ford Escape -- The sleek Escape provides sharper handling than the Outlander, though in other respects this is a fairly close race.

2016 Mazda CX-5 -- Stylish, sporty and fuel-efficient, the CX-5 is a media darling for good reason. Like the others, however, it's strictly a 2-row vehicle.

2015 Toyota RAV4 -- The RAV ditched its muscular V6 this time around, and the third-row seat is gone, too. But if you're cool with 4-cylinder power and two rows, the latest RAV4 is a strong contender.

Used Kia Sorento -- The slightly roomier Sorento also offers a third row, and a certified pre-owned model could save you some serious cash.

Autotrader's Advice

Spring for the V6-powered GT if you can, but the affordable, well-equipped SE FWD is a nice consolation prize.

Find a Mitsubishi Outlander for sale

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Used 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander 4WD SE
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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2015 Mitsubishi Outlander: New Car Review - Autotrader