2007 Mitsubishi Outlander Review


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By Thom Cannell
The Auto Channel
Detroit Bureau

One week with a 2007 Mitsubishi Outlander… No attempt at completeness, simply comments on one week’s driving experience—balanced against decades of experience and hundreds of comparisons.

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It is a handsomely styled car, this Outlander. In particular the fastback roof that dips to the rear and matching windows that squeeze up slightly to create the illusion of speed. It’s a design that generates tension, a surface taughtness that moves the eye along. And its multi-cellular LED taillights resemble a glowing beehive. In an arena of similarity, it is unique and highly stylistic.

There is much to recommend this compact-mid sized SUV. I like the storage capacity behind second row seats once any optional third row seats are folded. In particular, I can fit a family member’s wheelchair into the space upright, without folding. Or deposit huge packages like the latest HDTV, stand, and home theatre sound system. You can gather it all in one trip and easily fit the burden behind the front seats.

Unlike other SUVs, Outlander’s “flap-fold” tailgate is divided, with 70% a lift-gate and the remainder either a fold down tailgate or short bulkhead. In either case, each segment’s weight is lighter than a pickup’s tailgate or full sized lift gate. For bags of groceries that don’t bend your back, it is simple to just lift the lift-gate and dump those “paper or plastic?” parcels inside. Larger packages require a wider opening and dropping the mini tailgate, which is swift, simple, and lightweight.

Rear seats are accessible from very wide opening doors. Those seats are only slightly impinged upon by the 4WD system’s requisite drive shaft. Thus you have comfy seats with good knee room, and the 60/40 bench slides fore-aft.

My Outlander was equipped with two-wheel drive (FWD,) on-demand 4WD, and full-time 4WD that could have locked all four wheels for deep snow or other potentially sticky situations.

Performance is sprightly due to a high-revving 3.0-liter all-aluminum 220 hp engine. Its power train seemed biased to launch with vigor and upshifted at higher than expected RPM. Throttle response was quick, and the sport shifter offered an option to drive with a bit more spirited attitude than is appropriate for a family SUV, so I did. After all, it is a car-based platform and responds more like a sedan than a truck.

Outlander handled any situation, mid-town traffic, on ramp curves, winding roads deftly. It does transitions, the change between turning left and right or tightening your curve, with proficiency well beyond its pay grade, or price point.

The HVAC system on my test vehicle was manually operated and produced more quality airflow then others equipped with wacky electronics. Added to a comfortable driver’s seat and plenty of legroom, it showcased a very comfortable vehicle. Useful interior storage was addressed by two glove boxes, stacked one above the other. Instead of a navigation system my test vehicle had a closeable storage bin in the center stack. Combined with deep door storage bins with an angled cup holder, storage choices abound.

Here’s Are My Mitsubishi Outlander Bullet Points:

Good

• Nicely integrated steering wheel controls, almost every desirable control at your fingertips.

• A tailored Rockford Fosgate 650 W 9-speaker plus sub audio system rocks out in near audiophile quality.

• Electronic display between tachometer and speedometer gives average mpg, a bar graph fuel gauge, outside temperature, odometers and other operating parameters.

• A 120V outlet to power my laptop.

• Self-leveling Xenon headlamps are brighter and safer then less costly luminaires.

Room for improvement

• The speedometer and tachometer are deeply hooded and often in shadow, making it difficult to see the indicator needle. And in neighborhoods hawked by the revenue patrol, knowing your speed is crucial.

Thom's Total I’d consider purchasing an Outlander. It’s comfortable, has an exceptionally easy to load boot, gives low 20s fuel economy around town, and high 20’s on the highway. It even has fun to drive character. Compared to Honda CR-V, Ford Escape, and Dodge Nitro, it has a competitive price and outclasses some of their standard items, regardless of its trim level.

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