So the 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander isn’t the most modern compact crossover. Nor does it have a cabin that anyone might describe as classy. However, it offers seating for seven (a rarity for this segment), comes with plenty of equipment, looks the part, gets solid fuel economy, is keenly priced and even has the option of a V6 engine. Don’t expect Honda or Toyota to offer anything similar.
Mitsubishi dealers are thin on the ground, but don’t let the Outlander’s low profile scare you away. Instead, allow the test drive to be your guide.
What’s New for 2018?
A new limited-edition — LE — trim level joins the range between the SE and SEL trims. The lowest trim, ES, gets a 7-inch infotainment touchscreen. The SEL trim now has blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, lane-change assistance and a powered remote liftgate. The top GT trim receives a heated steering wheel and a 360-degree camera system as standard. See the 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander models for sale near you
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
The main engine is a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder that makes 166 horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque. It’s paired with a continuously variable transmission (CVT). According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), fuel economy with front-wheel drive is 25 miles per gallon in the city, 30 mpg on the highway and 27 mpg in combined driving, 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 version has a 3.0-liter V6 that 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 is a strong point at 20 mpg city/27 mpg hwy/22 mpg combined.
Standard Features & Options
The 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander is offered in ES, SE, LE, SEL and GT trims. The ES has the option of all-wheel drive, although it’s less sophisticated than the system in the higher trims. The GT comes only with all-wheel drive.
The ES ($24,735) starts with 18-in alloy wheels, hill-start assist, heated side mirrors, full power accessories, a monochromatic driver information display, a height-adjustable driver’s seat, slide/recline second-row seating, a leather-wrapped tilt-telescopic steering wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control, a rearview camera, voice control, Bluetooth, a 7-in touchscreen and a 6-speaker CD audio system with HD radio and USB connectivity.
The SE ($25,735) 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, a leather-wrapped shift knob, heated front seats, satellite radio and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone integration and dual USB ports.
The LE ($26,935) gets blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert and some cosmetic touches like black roof rails.
The SEL ($26,935) is the point where leather upholstery comes into the cabin, along with an 8-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, piano black interior accents, a self-dimming rearview mirror, automatic headlights, a power remote tailgate and rain-sensing wipers. It’s also when various bundles like the SEL Premium package become available. This adds a 710-watt 9-speaker Rockford Fosgate audio system, a sunroof, power-folding mirrors and a windshield wiper de-icer.
The SEL Touring package consists of the Premium package plus navigation, adaptive cruise control with frontal-collision mitigation, lane-departure warning, forward-collision mitigation with autonomous braking, a 360-degree camera system, a self-dimming rearview mirror and a heated steering wheel.
The GT ($33,035) has the V6 engine, chrome exterior trim, silver roof rails, LED headlights, rain-sensing wipers, a heated steering wheel, a 360-degree camera system, 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 extra.
All Outlanders can be ordered with a rear-seat DVD entertainment system and blue LED interior lighting, among other options. The ES trim is not eligible for front and rear parking sensors.
Cargo space behind the third seating row is 10.3 cu ft. Behind the second, it’s 34.2 cu ft. With both rows folded flat, it’s 63.3 cu ft. The 34.2 is fine by class standards, but that last number is a bit below average. Check it out at a dealership to see if this is adequate. There’s also some underfloor storage.
Standard safety equipment includes 4-wheel anti-lock brakes, stability control, hill-start assist and seven airbags (front, front side, driver knee and full-length side curtain).
A lane-departure warning system and adaptive cruise control with frontal-collision mitigation (including automatic braking) are also offered.
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 (IIHS) crash-test program, the Outlander earned the top Good rating in every major category and was named a Top Safety Pick Plus.
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 an obvious upgrade.
Seat comfort is acceptable for everyone, except for any kids stuck in the cramped third row. That’s not strictly a complaint. A lot of parents will be grateful just to have those two extra places if needed. The second row deserves special mention for its sliding/reclining seats and generous legroom. Overall, this cabin is well thought out and nicely executed.
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 rpm. 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.
Other Cars to Consider
2018 Honda CR-V — Build, reliability, cargo space and resale values are all extremely good. Only two rows of seating, though.
2018 Mazda CX-5 — Stylish, sporty and fuel efficient. It’s strictly a 2-row vehicle, however.
2018 Nissan Rogue — Has the option of three rows. Nice interior, dull drivetrain.
2018 Toyota RAV4 — If you’re cool with 4-cylinder power and two rows, the RAV4 is a strong contender.
The SE is a sensible choice. It comes with a generous level of equipment without breaking the bank, which is surely the whole point of considering an Outlander.