HEELS ON WHEELS: 2014 MITSUBISHI OUTLANDER REVIEW


PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
2014 Mitsubishi Outlander


HEELS ON WHEELS
By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel

INTRO TO THE OUTLANDER VEHICLE
Ready to take the affordable crossover market by storm is the completely redesigned Mitsubishi Outlander, toting better technology, fuel economy, and cabin refinement for 2014. This now-standard three-row crossover hasn’t fared well in my past, cited for sub-par interior materials and uninspiring engine power.

I drove a 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander with the larger 224-horsepower 3-liter V6 engine paired to a six-speed Sportronic automatic transmission featuring paddle shifters and super All-Wheel Control with Active Front Differential. Available in three trim grades – ES, SE and GT – my top-of-the-line Outlander GT came with the following standard features: seven-passenger seating; dual-zone climate control; heated front seats; leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob; 6.1-inch touchscreen audio display; XM Radio; HD Radio; FUSE Hands-free Link System; rearview camera; steering-wheel mounted controls; push-button start; high-intensity discharge headlights; eighteen-inch wheels. Total cost for vehicle described without options came to $27,795.

Main competitors are the Honda CR-V and the Kia Sorento – and I happened to drive both 2014 models directly around the Outlander test drive.

HEELS ON WHEELS REVIEW CRITERIA

Stylish But Comfortable Results: A bolder exterior design and savvier interior centered on well-crafted seats are noticeable changes. The Sorento’s in-car connectivity system, UVO Powered by Microsoft, outshines the Outlanders graphics. Land Departure Warning can be turned off (but automatically turns on again during new starts), which wouldn’t be a big deal except for the fact warning beeps accompany your every swerve into a lane when the turn signal isn’t employed (Blind Spot Monitoring would have been a better offering). In fact, there are unnecessary beeps and chimes for just about every switch and control inside the Outlander. The third row is exceptionally small, but easy to access thanks to a sliding second-row system; unfortunately the Mazda CX-9 triumphs the Outlander in this category.

Reliability & Safety Factor: The Outlander is a Top Safety Pick with The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has not yet rated the vehicle. Standard safety equipment includes hill-start assist, anti-lock brakes, active stability control, traction control logic, and an advanced airbag system with side curtain airbags.

Cost Issues: A base price of $22,995 is reasonable, but if you want to be a competitor you have to offer exciting base-level technologies like a rearview camera (Honda CR-V) or XM Radio and Bluetooth connectivity (Kia Sorento).An upgraded Rosford Fosgate audio system, along with other technology biggies like a larger seven-inch navigation system, a safety package with Lane Departure Warning, leather upholstery, and a power remote tailgate come at a cost of $6,100, sending my test drive’s total cost to $33,895.

Activity & Performance Ability: A boutique SUV made to tow families, the 224 horsepower from the bigger V6 engine won’t cause you to grip the wheel any tighter but it is a step up from the paltry 148-horsepower 2-liter four-cylinder the Sport trim grade still schleps around. Road noise is still noticeable inside the cabin. A clear performance highlight would be the surprisingly competent All-Wheel Control with Active Front Differentia.

The Green Concern: One advantage the Outlander holds over the Sorento three-row competitor is better gas mileage with all-wheel drive at 20-city and 28-highway for a combined 23 miles-per-gallon.

FINAL PARTING WORDS
While significant improvements increase the 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander’s likability – including a bolder exterior and improved interior – additional attention to detail is required before this affordable crossover is to be considered the favored three-row choice.

2013 Katrina Ramser

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