2014 Mitsubishi Outlander GT Review By Carey Russ


PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
2014 Mitsubishi Outlander


DRIVING DOWN THE ROAD
WITH CAREY RUSS

2014 Mitsubishi Outlander GT

In its latest Outlander, Mitsubishi has an interesting take on the popular crossover genre. There is no vestige of macho, offroad-ready SUV (as defined by the late Montero) in the new Outlander's styling, and little visual continuity with any previous Outlander besides four wheels and a Mitsubishi badge. The 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander seems like the answer when Mitsubishi's design, engineering, and development teams were asked the question "How can we best make an efficient, comfortable seven-passenger vehicle with the maximum possible interior space in a minimum footprint?"

Which is a very relevant question in this age of expensive fuel and crowded roads.

Mitsubishi's answer could be thought of as a large version of a European multi-purpose vehicle (MPV). It's not (quite) a minivan, as it has four regular hinged doors and a longer-than-minivan hood in front of its extra-long passenger cabin. But its styling and demeanor are also more than a bit different from most other seven-passenger crossovers or SUVs, and it fits its passengers and their cargo into a relatively compact 183.3-inch length, 70.9-inch width, and 66.1-inch height on a 105.1-inch wheelbase. Attention to aerodynamics -- apparent in the front styling and the long, tapered body shape -- and increased use of lightweight materials help efficiency, vehicle dynamics, and interior quiet.

Trim levels are entry ES, mid-level SE, and premium GT, with ES and SE powered by a 2.4-liter, 166-horsepower four-cylinder engine matched to a CVT, and the GT getting a 3.0-liter, 224-horsepower V6 with a six-speed regular automatic. ES and SE versions are front-wheel drive, with Mitsubishi's "Super All-Wheel Control" (S-AWC) all-wheel drive system optional in the SE and standard in the GT. The ES will sell on price, which is under$23,000 (not counting the usual tax and fees). SE and GT models can be outfitted with luxury-class convenience and safety options including a power tailgate, adaptive cruise control, forward collision mitigation, and lane-departure warning. A fully-equipped GT with the Touring Package, including all of the mentioned equipment and then some, tops out at $33,895. Add an $825 destination charge, and applicable local taxes and fees.

And of course it was the Outlander GT that was my test car for the past week, equipped with the Touring Package. It was interesting, different, and quite useful. Fore-and-aft adjustment for the second row was a pleasant surprise, and depending on the size of the forward occupants, the two-place third row can accommodate small adults, not merely small children as is too often the case in smallish "three row" vehicles. The V6 had plenty of power when needed, and the Outlander seemed more comfortable and stable with more people and stuff inside. Go ahead and fill it, it likes that‚€¶ Fuel economy can be a drawback for seven-passenger vehicles of all descriptions -- but not this one. I got around 19 mpg around town and 27 on the highway.

APPEARANCE: Form follows function, with a blunt nose and simple lines. What looks like the upper grille is solid, black plastic inlaid with chrome strips. As is increasingly common, the real air intake is lower, and larger. Mitsubishi is merely being honest -- and improving aerodynamic efficiency by some small but important amount. Proportionally, the new Outlander is far close to car than truck/SUV, a two-box design with a longish hood and very long passenger cabin. Only the 8.5 inches of ground clearance keeps it from looking like a dreaded (for some‚€¶) station wagon. An otherwise flat expanse of sheetmetal on the hood is broken up by discreet character lines. The sides feature subdued wheel arches and a strong upswept shoulder line, with a bit of chrome around the lower part of the windows. The tail section is the most "old Mitsubishi" part of the exterior, with a chrome appliqu√© connecting the taillights.

COMFORT: Visual simplicity is the rule inside as well as out, It's a car, as you've known cars for years, not a spaceship. There is no clutter, and plenty of space and storage. Front seat heat, 60/40 split-folding second and 50/50 third rows are standard fare along with leather on the steering wheel rim and shift knob, and manual tilt- and telescope steering wheel adjustment and cruise and audio controls on the spokes. A multi-information display and rearview camera are standard in the SE and GT, as are fob-sensing touch un/lock and pushbutton start/stop. The Touring Package adds leather seating and power adjustment for the driver's seat, a navigation system, a 710-watt Rockford-Fosgate audio system with AM/FM/XM radio, CD, SD card, and USB inputs, a tilt-and-slide glass sunroof, and a power tailgate. Instruments are bright and easy to see, with the information display centered between the tach and speedometer. Dual-zone climate control is thankfully not integrated into the touchscreen interface for audio and information systems. Front seat comfort is very good. Depending on fore or aft position, the second row can be business class or not, and because it's minimally contoured three people can fit comfortably. The third row is good for people up to about 5-6 if the second-row passengers are not too long of leg. Headroom is unlikely to be a problem, and a bit of second-row seatback angle adjustment adds comfort there. There is useful storage around the interior, including bottle holders and pockets in all doors. The 2014 Outlander's only "traditional truck" attribute is a good one -- the space-saver spare is outside, underneath the rear where it doesn't take up interior space.

SAFETY: The 2014 Outlander has been named a "Top Safety Pick+" by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). It features Reinforced Impact Safety Evolution (RISE) construction, with crumple zones and reinforcements protecting passengers. Besides the usual airbags, and a driver's knee airbag, all new Outlanders have Hill Start Assist, four-wheel antilock disc brakes with electronic brake force distribution and brake assist, active stability control, traction control, and a tire-pressure monitoring system. The Touring Package adds adaptive cruise control, forward collision mitigation, and lane-departure warning.

RIDE AND HANDLING: There is no truck in the 2014 Outlander's road manners. It's purely a car, with a moderately soft tuning to its fully-independent MacPherson strut front, multilink rear suspension that is correctly damped so there is no float over a series of road irregularities. There is plenty of body roll if cornering hard, but this is a family people-mover, not a Lancer Evo. And with more people and weight inside, it feels better than with just the driver. Brakes work well, and the electrically-assisted steering is light but not completely numb to the touch. On the highway it's stable and quiet.

PERFORMANCE: Mitsubishi's 3.0-liter V6 makes 224 horsepower (at 6250 rpm), with 215 lb-ft of torque (at 3750 rpm). It uses the MIVEC variable valve timing and lift system for a broader spread of useful power and improved efficiency, and so develops useful power at commonly-used engine speeds, with improved fuel economy and lower emissions than if it was not used. A six-speed automatic transmission helps both acceleration (by having low lower ratios) and highway economy (with high overdrive fifth and sixth gears). The S-AWC all-wheel drive system is not your basic crossover part-time AWD system -- it was developed for the Lancer Evo, to improve traction, stability, and handling. It works just as well here, and is completely transparent in action. ECO mode here reduces demand from some electric systems and decouples AWD until the control computer considers it necessary, both decreasing demand on engine power. Compared to earlier Outlanders, the 2014 weighs around 200 pounds less and has less aerodynamic drag, both helping improve fuel economy. It's quick enough to deal with any everyday traffic merging situation, and reasonably efficient, especially considering its carrying capacity. I got 18 to 20 mpg around town and saw 27+ on the highway -- at real highway speeds.

CONCLUSIONS: Mitsubishi's newest Outlander a comfortable and efficient people-mover with a seven-passenger capacity.

SPECIFICATIONS
2014 Mitsubishi Outlander GT

Base Price			$ 27,795
Price As Tested			$ 34,720
Engine Type			aluminum alloy 24-valve SOHC V6 with
				 MIVEC variable valve control
Engine Size			3.0 liters / 183 cu. in.
Horsepower			224 @ 6250 rpm
Torque (lb-ft)			215 @ 3750 rpm
Transmission			6-speed automatic 
Wheelbase / Length		105.1 in. / 183.3 in.
Curb Weight			3571 lbs.
Pounds Per Horsepower		15.9
Fuel Capacity			15.8 gal.
Fuel Requirement		91 octane premium unleaded gasoline
Tires				P225/55R18 97H Toyo A24
Brakes, front/rear		vented disc / solid disc,
				 ABS, EBD, BA standard
Suspension, front/rear		independent MacPherson strut /
				  independent multi-link
Ground Clearance		8.5 inches
Drivetrain			transverse front engine,
				 multi-mode all-wheel drive

PERFORMANCE
EPA Fuel Economy - miles per gallon
    city / highway / observed		20 / 28 / 22
0 to 60 mph				est 8  sec
Towing Capacity				3500 lbs.

OPTIONS AND CHARGES
GT Touring Package -- includes:
  Navigation system with high-definition touchscreen,
  real-time traffic, 3D mapping, and Mapcare¬ģ,
  lane departure warning, forward collision mitigation,
  adaptive cruise control, power glass sunroof, leather
  seating surfaces, 710-watt Rockford Fosgate¬ģ
  premium sound system, power driver's seat with
  seatback pocket, power remote tailgate		$ 6,100
Destination charge					$   825
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