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2016 Mitsubishi Outlander: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader March 2016

When you consider all that the 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander has to offer, it's a wonder this crossover SUV doesn't get more credit. We've always seen it as a hidden gem, which is a shame, because the Outlander looks the part, gets solid fuel economy and even has the option of a V6 engine. Don't look to Honda or Toyota for one of those engines in this segment.

In addition to its generous standard features and rewarding V6 performance, this model comes with a standard-issue third-row seat for the little ones -- another rarity for this class. 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 2016?

This model year brings a midcycle revamp of the exterior and the cabin. Mitsubishi also claims that changes were made to the body for better structural rigidity and ride quality, as well as reduced noise, vibration and harshness, plus there's a new continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). The second-row seats have been revised to be more user-friendly; they can now fold down without having to remove the headrests.

The entry-level SE trim gets 18-inch alloy wheels as standard, along with LED running lights and taillights. The top GT trim gains standard LED headlights. And 2016 sees the introduction of a new SEL trim slotting in just below the top trim level.

What We Like

Decent 4-cylinder fuel economy; standard 3-row seating; strong optional V6; pleasant interior

What We Don't

Forgettable 4-cylinder acceleration; third row is strictly for kids

How Much?

$23,890-$31,890

Fuel Economy

The Outlander's base engine is a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder that makes 166 horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque. It's paired with a CVT. Fuel economy with front-wheel drive is 25 miles per gallon in the city, 31 mpg on the highway and 27 mpg combined, which is pretty decent for a crossover. Even with optional all-wheel drive, this engine achieves a respectable 24 mpg city/29 mpg hwy/26 mpg combined.

The Outlander GT has a 3.0-liter V6 as standard. It develops 224 hp and 215 lb-ft of torque. All-wheel drive is the sole setup, as is a 6-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy remains a strong point at 20 mpg city/27 mpg hwy/23 mpg combined.

Standard Features & Options

The 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander is offered in ES, SE, SEL and GT trims. Note that the ES only features front-wheel drive, while the SE and SEL offer all-wheel drive as a $2,000 option. The GT only comes with all-wheel drive.

The ES ($23,890) starts with 18-in alloy wheels, heated mirrors, full power accessories, a monochromatic driver information display, a height-adjustable driver's seat, a leather-wrapped tilt-telescopic steering wheel, a leather shift knob, automatic climate control, voice control, Bluetooth and a 6-speaker CD audio system with iPod/USB connectivity.

The SE ($24,890) brings 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.

The SEL ($25,890) brings leather upholstery into the cabin, along with an 8-way power-adjustable driver's seat, piano-black interior accents and black roof rails. Also, various bundles, such as the SEL Premium package, become available with this trim, adding a 710-watt/9-speaker Rockford Fosgate audio system, satellite radio, a sunroof, a power remote tailgate, power-holding mirrors and a windshield-wiper de-icer.

The SEL 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.

The GT ($31,890) has the exclusive V6 engine, chrome exterior trim, silver roof rails, LED headlights, rain-sensing wipers, wood-grain trim and paddle shifters. It also comes with the SEL Premium package's features, but a GT Touring package with navigation and some active safety features is still an extra.

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

Cargo space behind the third-row seat is 10.3 cu ft. Behind the second seat, there is 34.2 cu ft. of cargo space. With both rear rows folded flat, it's 63.3 cu ft. The 34.2 cu ft. is fine by class standards, but that last number is a bit below average. Check it out at the dealership to see if this is adequate. There's some underfloor storage, as well.

Safety

Standard safety equipment includes 4-wheel anti-lock brakes, stability control, hill-start assist and seven airbags (front, front-side, driver's-knee and full-length side-curtain). This model also offers a lane-departure warning system and adaptive cruise control with frontal-collision mitigation (including automatic braking).

In government crash testing, the all-wheel-drive Outlander received five stars out of five overall, including four stars for front impacts and five stars for side impacts. Strangely, the front-drive Outlander dropped to four stars overall. In the independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash-test program, the Outlander came up aces, earning the top Good rating in every major category. It was named a Top Safety Pick+.

Behind the Wheel

Soft-touch materials are abundant in the cabin, complemented by crisp gauges (especially in the SEL and GT). Remarkably, even the base ES gets standard automatic climate control, although the barely pricier SE has enough desirable extras to make it a no-brainer upgrade.

The seats offer acceptable comfort for everyone -- except for any kids who are stuck in the cramped third row. That's not strictly a complaint, though; 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 and generous legroom. Overall, this cabin is well thought out, nicely executed and could teach the Honda CR-V a lesson or two about perceived quality.

The base 4-cylinder engine is uninspiring, although 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, producing 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.

The handling is safe and secure even during spirited driving. Those aforementioned structural changes, however, do not seem to make much of a perceived improvement -- apart from the extra noise suppression, which makes highway driving more pleasant.

Other Cars to Consider

2016 Honda CR-V -- The CR-V is a best seller for a reason. It offers great build, reliability, cargo space and resale values. It only has two rows of seating, though.

2016 Mazda CX-5 -- Stylish, sporty and fuel efficient, the CX-5 is a less obvious but totally justifiable choice. It's strictly a 2-row vehicle, though.

2016 Nissan Rogue -- The Rogue has the option of three rows. It has a nice interior but a dull drivetrain.

2016 Toyota RAV4 -- If you're cool with 4-cylinder power and two rows, the 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

Go for the V6-powered GT if possible -- but an affordable, well-equipped, front-drive SEL will cover a lot of bases, too.

Find a Mitsubishi Outlander for sale

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Used 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander FWD ES
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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.
2016 Mitsubishi Outlander: New Car Review - Autotrader