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2015 vs. 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander: What's the Difference?

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Used 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander FWD SE
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author photo by Doug DeMuro November 2015

The Mitsubishi Outlander has received an update for the latest model year that involves revised styling and a few other changes designed to keep the SUV competitive in the face of newer rivals. So what exactly separates the 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander from last year's model? Should you get a 2016 model, or save your money and choose a lightly used or leftover 2015 version? We've created a comparison between the 2015 Outlander and the 2016 model that should help you answer those questions.

Exterior

Although the Outlander isn't fully redesigned for 2016, a quick glance at the SUV might suggest otherwise. In addition to new wheel designs and a new rear-end treatment, the Outlander offers a totally new front fascia that gives the crossover a new look. The 2016 Outlander also includes a new bumper, a new grille, LED running lights and newly available LED headlights, all of which give the impression that the Outlander boasts some serious changes for 2016.

Interior

Despite big changes to the outside, however, the 2016 Outlander is almost entirely unchanged on the inside compared to its predecessor. It offers the same controls, the same steering wheel, the same switchgear and the same materials, with the sole interior updates being a revised infotainment interface and a second-row seat that folds away more easily than the second-row seat in last year's cabin.

Mechanicals

It's the same story under the hood: Despite big changes on the outside, the 2016 Outlander offers the exact same powertrains as last year's model. The base-level engine is a 166-horsepower 2.4-liter 4-cylinder, mated to front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive and a fuel-saving continuously variable transmission. Drivers looking for more power can upgrade to a 224-hp 3.0-liter V6, which is only offered with a 6-speed automatic and all-wheel drive. Fuel economy ranges from 25 miles per gallon in the city and 31 mpg on the highway with the 4-cylinder engine and front-wheel drive to 20 mpg city/27 mpg hwy with the V6 and optional all-wheel drive.

Features & Technology

Despite the fact that there's a new SEL trim level for 2016, the Outlander doesn't offer any major changes to its features and equipment. Instead, it merely shuffles around the equipment it already offered to make its lineup a little easier to understand.

With that said, there are one or two noteworthy additions to the 2016 Outlander range. Specifically, the crossover is now offered with available LED headlights, along with LED brake lights and LED running lights. The infotainment system has been revised for the latest model year to make it easier to use.

This isn't to say that the outgoing Outlander was low on technology: In fact, the crossover offered an unusually long list of available features for a compact SUV, including adaptive cruise control, a forward-collision alert system with automatic braking, a voice-control feature for the infotainment system and automatic headlights.

Driving Experience

With no major changes to the suspension, powertrains or steering for 2016, the Outlander soldiers on just like last year's model: with underwhelming driving dynamics and mediocre acceleration.

That comment especially applies to the 2.4-liter base model, which feels overmatched by the Outlander's part-compact, part-midsize overall size. The V6 doesn't offer especially impressive acceleration or passing power, especially compared to 6-cylinder engines in rival models. Although Mitsubishi says it enhanced the Outlander's sound deadening this year for a quieter cabin, we think it sounds mostly the same as the outgoing model.

Safety

In National Highway Traffic Safety Administration crash-testing, the Outlander earned a perfect 5-star overall score. It's the same story in tests carried out by the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, in which the Outlander earned a coveted Top Safety Pick+ rating. Although neither group has rated the 2016 Outlander, we don't think its updates should cause any change in those scores.

As for safety features, the Outlander offers an impressive array. Standard equipment is roughly the same as any other compact crossover, with features ranging from anti-lock brakes to side-curtain airbags. However, the options list is surprisingly generous: Not only does the Outlander offer a backup camera and automatic headlights, but it also touts LED lights, a forward-collision warning system, an automatic braking system and a lane-departure warning system.

Conclusions

The 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander is little more than a 2015 model with some stylistic revisions. Admittedly, those stylistic revisions go pretty far, so if you want your Outlander to offer the latest looks, you'll want the new one. Otherwise, we suspect you'll find that the 2015 Outlander offers virtually all the same characteristics as the new 2016 version and likely boasts a substantial price break compared to the latest model.

Find a Mitsubishi Outlander for sale

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Used 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander FWD SE
Used 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander
$16,580
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 vs. 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander: What's the Difference? - Autotrader