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2007 Mitsubishi Outlander Preview

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2007 Mitsubishi Outlander

By Thom Cannell
The Auto Channel
Detroit Bureau

The second generation Outlander SUV, first of three vehicles based on Mitsubishi’s new global C platform—Outlander Lancer and Lancer Evolution (the brand within their brand)—arrives at dealerships in November.

Outlander is the first to use the new global 6B31 SOHC 3.0-liter engine and new six-speed Sportronic ® transmission, a segment first. EPA highway estimates for the new powertrain are 27 mpg FWD and 26 mpg 4WD.

Mitsubishi’s MIVEC (Mitsubishi Innovative Valve Timing and lift Electronic Control) variable valve timing, plus a two-stage variable intake manifold delivers 90% of peak torque from 2,000 rpm. MIVEC uses two cam profiles hydraulically switched by a T-lever from low-lift to high-lift at 4,750 rpm. The 6B31 is 55 pounds lighter vs. the previous 3.0-liter through the use of aluminum cylinder block, heads, oil pan and resin rocker covers. Emissions reduction technologies combine a HD-trap catalyst and PremAir® direct ozone catalyst. Outlander is California PZEV certified and Mitsubishi says it is the first PZEV V6 in the segment; federal certification is Tier 2 Bin 5.

Mitsubishi’s six-speed Sportronic ® transmission is equipped with manual gear selection, either floor console mounted or with paddle shift levers attached to the steering column where the right-hand paddle is always up-shift and left-hand is down-shift, regardless of wheel position, on XLS models. Fifth and sixth gears are overdrive at 0.855 and 0.685 respectively. Towing capacity is 2,000 pounds for 2WD models, 3,500 for 4WD models, which have increased radiator capacity and transmission cooler.

Three trim levels are available including value ES 2WD, mainstream LX and sport/luxury XLS with 2WD standard; LX and XLS offer an optional electronically controlled 4WD system. Mitsubishi claims availability of many user-friendly technology features such as standard Active Skid and Traction Control (ASTC,) FAST (Freehand Advanced Security Transmitter keyless entry and stop/start, a 30 gigabyte hard disc drive navigation system with 6 gigabytes available for music storage, 650-watt Rockford-Fosgate premium audio system with DSP and SIRIUS ® satellite radio, Bluetooth ® wireless technology, self-leveling HID headlamps and LED tail lamps, and nine-inch wide-screen rear DVD with 110-volt outlet.

Seating five plus two with a fold-flat third row seat (XLS) or five (ES and LS) with an under-floor rear storage compartment, Outlander has an interior volume of 139.4 cubic feet, 17.6 cubic feet of cargo space behind the front seat, and 36.2-39 cubic feet behind the second seat. Seating is noticeably roomy with plenty of second row legroom even when the front seat is pushed back.

XLS features include Evolution-derived magnesium F1-style paddle shifters, fog lamps, 18” alloy wheels and auto climate control. All models have reclining second seats with 3.15” fore-aft travel, a novel flap-fold rear tailgate that has low lift-over closed — yet can support 440 pounds when fully open, a unique odor-defeating headliner, air conditioning, cruise control, and power windows and doors.

Longer, taller, and wider than previous Outlanders, wheelbase is increased 1.8” to 105.1” with an overall length of 182.7”. Much of the extra space is available for second row legroom. In comparison, a Mazda Tribute is 174.4” long with a 103.1” wheelbase; a Toyota RAV4 is 181.1” long with 104.7” wheelbase; a BMW X3 is 179.7” long with 110.1” wheelbase.

Safety is addressed through standard dual-stage front air bags with occupant sensors, standard seat-mounted side-impact air bags and side curtain air bags for front and second rows. ABS and EBD are standard, as is a tire pressure monitor.

Testing north of San Francisco last week revealed a handsome vehicle with novel graphic treatment of the rear end, particularly embedded LED tail lamps. Outlander’s unibody makes extensive use of High Strength Steel, and a center-of-gravity lowering aluminum roof shaves 11 pounds off vehicle weight. Chassis details include McPherson struts with lateral tower bars and multilink rear suspension.

Chassis development was revealed in modest-speed testing on narrow rural two-lanes. Outlander felt as open and roomy as an open shoebox, and simultaneously bank vault rigid. Driven hard into corners it responded with modest understeer and predictable handling. The only softness was from form-fitting bucket seats.

Priced appropriately starting “in the low $20s,” according to Mitsubishi, this latest Outlander should attract buyers with its Green emissions, excellent fuel economy, and roomy interior. . Outlander offers realistic and real competitive advantages.