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2020 Mitsubishi Outlander Review

The 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander puts together two aspects that are rare in compact crossovers. Three seating rows and a V6 engine.

In a couple of rivals, it’s one but not the other. In the 2020 Outlander, a buyer can have both. What’s even more remarkable is that it does this while featuring a long list of standard equipment at seriously competitive prices.

That’s not all. The Outlander also offers a plug-in hybrid version, the PHEV. Only two seating rows are fitted to this model (the battery pack and extra hybrid hardware have to go somewhere), but a compact crossover with a plug-in hybrid drivetrain and from a mainstream brand is another rarity.

One thing to remember is that the “plug-in” part means usable range from the battery, but the vehicle isn’t suddenly going to leave its occupants stranded if battery energy dips below a certain level. There’s still a combustion engine on board to get everyone home. What a PHEV does is employ electric power to improve overall fuel economy.

Adding this PHEV model breathes a little more life and relevance into the aging Outlander range. It has its own appeal beyond the Outlander’s usual selling proposition, which is value for money at relatively low pricing.

Generally speaking, the quality of cabin materials doesn’t compare well to most rivals. And the third seating row is a kids-only arrangement, although that’s probably fine for 95 percent of families doing the school run.

This isn’t the most modern compact crossover and 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 2020?

A new SP trim joins the regular 2020 Outlander range, between the SEL and GT versions in terms of price.

Mitsubishi has added power lumbar adjustment to the driver’s seat of every version, as well as redesigned controls for the heating/ventilation system, plus improving the comfort of the second seating row and fitting another USB port for that row. An updated all-wheel drive system, now with Active Yaw Control, becomes available on every variant, replacing the more basic option offering in the ES.

Starting from SE trim, the Outlander gains a new 8-inch infotainment display, self-dimming rearview mirror and rain-sensing wipers. This is also the new point where forward collision mitigation with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning and automatic high beams become standard.

The Premium options package for SEL and GT versions and the GT Touring package have been discontinued, while an 8-speaker Mitsubishi Power Sound System (MPSS) replaces the Rockford Fosgate optional audio upgrade. This setup doesn’t have a subwoofer, whereas the RF system did and used to encroach upon cargo space.

And a new Premium interior package for the GT PHEV model brings diamond-stitched leather seating surfaces. See the 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander models for sale near you

What We Like

  • Decent 4-cylinder fuel economy
  • Standard 3-row seating
  • Strong optional V6
  • Plug-in hybrid offered
  • Pleasant interior
  • 5-year/60,000-mile warranty

What We Don’t

  • Unremarkable 4-cylinder acceleration
  • Third seating row (where fitted) is only suitable for kids

How Much?

$25,890 to $42,890. That’s before any federal tax credit or state incentives for the PHEV.

Fuel Economy

The base engine is a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder that makes 166 hp 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 mpg city, 30 mpg highway and 27 mpg combined, which is pretty decent for a crossover. Even with optional all-wheel drive, this engine achieves a respectable 24/29/26 mpg.

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 consumption is 20/27/22 mpg.

In the 2020 Outlander PHEV, the combustion side of the equation is a 2.0-liter/4-cylinder engine. This is augmented by an electric motor up front and one at the back, both running on a lithium-ion battery back. The combined setup sends 190 hp to all four wheels.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a way of calculating consumption in plug-in hybrid and all-electric vehicles it calls miles-per-gallon equivalent (MPGe). It rates the Outlander PHEV at 74 MPGe when combining the city and highway cycles. It also puts maximum electric-only range at 22 miles.

Recharging a depleted battery on a 240-volt supply takes about four hours; a fast-charging facility can bring it up to 80 percent in 25 minutes.

Standard Features & Options

The 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander is offered in ES, SE, LE, SEL and GT trims. The GT comes solely with all-wheel drive. This is optional in the other trims, at a cost of $2,000. It includes Active Yaw Control, an active front differential and windshield wiper de-icing.

The 5-seater 2020 Outlander PHEV compact crossover is sold in SEL and GT trims.

ES ($25,890) starts with 18-inch alloy wheels, hill start assist, heated side mirrors, LED daytime running lights/taillights, full power accessories, electronic parking brake with Auto Hold, color driver information display, height-adjustable driver’s seat with power lumbar adjustment, tilt/telescope steering wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control, rear air vents, slide/recline second-row seating with 60/40 split/fold, 50/50 split/fold third-row seats, rearview camera, voice control, Bluetooth, 7-inch infotainment touchscreen, and a 6-speaker CD audio system with HD radio and a USB port.

SE ($27,090) brings fog lights, color-keyed side-mirror housings with LED turn-signal indicators, rain-sensing wipers, keyless entry/ignition, upgraded gauges, self-dimming rearview mirror, 8-way power-adjustable front seats, leatherette/fabric upholstery, leather-wrapped steering wheel/shift knob, heated front seats, satellite radio, forward collision mitigation with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, automatic high beams, 8-inch infotainment display, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone integration, and dual USB ports.

A Convenience package for the SE includes blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, power-folding side mirrors, and a powered glass sunroof with sunshade.

LE ($28,290) has the contents of that Convenience package as standard, and some mainly black cosmetic touches like roof rails and alloy wheels.

SEL ($28,490) has leather seating surfaces and a powered remote tailgate. The Outlander PHEV SEL ($37,490) follows the same recipe.

SP ($29,490) is a limited-edition model, with extra aerodynamic parts, powered sunroof, black-finished alloy wheels, plus a hood badge and door handle covers finished in black.

GT ($34,740) has the V6 engine, full LED headlights, adaptive cruise control, chrome exterior trim, silver roof rails, steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, heated steering wheel, multi-view camera system, and the Mitsubishi Power Sound System. The Outlander PHEV ($42,890) also has two 115-volt AC outlets.

All Outlanders can be ordered with a rear-seat DVD entertainment system, front/rear parking sensors, and blue LED interior lighting.

Cargo space behind the third seating row is 10.3 cubic feet. Behind the second, it’s 34.2 cubic feet or 30.4 cubic feet in the PHEV. With both rows folded flat, there’s 63.3 cubic feet. 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.

Safety

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 being 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 really 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.

The Outlander PHEV also has an electric vehicle (EV) mode, so drivers can choose when to use just battery power.

Other Cars to Consider

2020 Honda CR-V — Build, reliability, cargo space, and resale values are all extremely good. Only two rows of seating, though.

2020 Jeep Cherokee — The only other compact crossover to offer a V6. But not seating for seven.

2020 Hyundai Tucson — Excellent warranty, great price/equipment ratio. Seats five.

2020 Kia Sportage — A close relation to the Tucson, but with some nicer cabin materials and a more engaging drive.

2020 Mazda CX-5 — Stylish, sporty and fuel-efficient. It’s strictly a 2-row vehicle, however.

2020 Nissan Rogue — Has the option of three rows. Nice interior, dull drivetrain.

2020 Toyota RAV4 — If you’re cool with 4-cylinder power and two rows, the RAV4 is a strong contender. Or the RAV4 Hybrid is one of the few consumption/emissions-conscious alternatives.

2020 Kia Niro PHEV — Kia markets this as a crossover, although it’s more of a raised hatchback. It’s also a subcompact, so it’s smaller than the Outlander. But it starts at around $30,000, has an EV range of 26 miles and is quite refined to drive. Updated for 2020.

2020 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid — This is another PHEV, but a subcompact crossover. Quite roomy, though. Has an electric-only range of 17 miles.

Used Toyota Highlander — For more space, the option of hybrid economy and three rows of seating, this could do the job. Check out Toyota’s certified pre-owned (CPO) program.

Autotrader’s Advice

Anyone serious about buying an Outlander probably wants to keep expenditure at a reasonable level. With that in mind, we favor the SE, especially now it has more driver aids.

If the Outlander PHEV is under serious consideration, there’s no real need to look beyond the SEL trim. Find a Mitsubishi Outlander for sale

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