How well does the 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander compare to other small crossovers like the Honda CR-V and Ford Escape?
During the 1990s and early 2000s Mitsubishi’s lineup was filled with exciting models like the Lancer Evo, Eclipse and 3000GT. Even its SUV lineup brought a bit of excitement to the table with the Montero and Montero Sport models. Fast forward to 2014 and Mitsubishi barely even registers a blip on the radar. Today the last exciting model, the Lancer Evolution is basically dead. So what’s left? Well Mitsubishi has decided to ditch its sporty past for greener, more efficient models like the funky i-MiEV electric car and the small Mirage hatchback. It’s SUV lineup is still there, but now “Montero” has been replaced by “Outlander” and buyers can choose from either the seven-passenger Outlander or the smaller Outlander Sport. But now that Mitsubishi has completely ditched its past is it even worth checking out?
What we have here is the 2015 Outlander Sport GT – the top of the line version of the seven-passenger SUV. The Outlander has been around for a while now and the current model represents the third generation of the SUV. When the first Outlander debuted in the early 2000s the small crossover segment was just getting started and now its one of the most competitive segments in the industry, which makes it even tougher for the Outlander. Back when the original Outlander debuted, Mitsubishi still offered several “would be” larger volume models, like the Galant, Endeavor and Eclipse. All three of those models are now gone and now the Outlander and Outlander Sport are the only shining models left in the lineup (the Lancer is way too old and the Mirage…well).
Now that you can see how much pressure the Outlander has to keep the Mitsubishi brand alive in the U.S. how well does it compete and is it even worth looking at compared to other small crossovers like the Honda CR-V and Ford Escape?
How does it look? Compared to the second generation Outlander with its aggressive angles and wedge shape, the third generation is a bit more bland. Mitsubishi has taken all of the excitement out of the exterior design and instead it replaced it with an exterior that is sadly easily forgotten. From some views, particularly the front, the 2015 Outlander looks more refined and sculpted, but overall its styling isn’t going to be one of the reasons why someone will buy the Outlander. If you want something more exciting there’s the Escape.
Inside the same conservative design theme from the outside continues. The Outlander’s interior is spacious (for the class) and in the Outlander GT, its leather seats are large and comfortable. Again there’s a lack of excitement, but with seven seats the Outlander has enough room for a small family. The key word here is “small” family since the third row is meant for kids, since anyone over even five feet tall will scowl at you for relegating them to that torture zone. When the rear seat isn’t needed, it flips down easily to give you 34.2 cubic feet of space. The second row seat also slides forward and flips down too to give you an even more usable 63.3 cubic feet.
Overall the interior was quiet and comfortable, but some riders did complain about a lack of head room even in the second row and we wished that there were A/C vents in the back. A panoramic sunroof would have also been a nice touch which would have made the interior feel more spacious.
The Outlander GT is powered by a 224 horsepower 3.0L V6 that is mated to a standard six-speed automatic transmission. It also comes with Mitsubishi’s S-AWC all-wheel-drive system that has a locking differential. Lower trim levels are powered by a 166-hp 2.4L four-cylinder that’s mated to a CVT transmission. The front-wheel-drive four-cylinder is rated at 25/31 mpg, which drops down to 24/29 mpg if you choose all-wheel-drive. The GT with its 3.0L V6 and standard AWD is rated at 20/28 mpg.
How does it drive? Even with seven seats on board, the Outlander is on the lighter end in the class and you can tell. It’s a bit light on its feet, but is let down by numb electric steering and a V6 that doesn’t really add very much fun. You have to push it hard to get it going, but the paddle shifters can make it a bit more exciting to drive. On the road, the Outlander’s suspension swallowed most of the imperfections on LA’s streets and body roll was kept to a minimum and only at a few times did it feel a bit too soft. Even though we wished for a bit more performance from the engine and steering, the Outlander’s performance is on par with the performance from the rest of the class.
The Outlander is available in ES, SE and GT trim levels and on the top spec GT you get new safety technology like Adaptive Cruise Control, Forward Collision Mitigation and Lane Departure Warning. For some reason Mitsubishi failed to include a Blind Spot Monitoring system that is definitely needed here, especially when every seat is occupied.
While the 2015 Outlander didn’t really stand out in any significant areas, it was a competent small SUV that shows that Mitsubishi can still create a good vehicle, it’s just sad that it isn’t more fun. But buyers in this class tend to choose practicality over outright fun, so in that case the Outlander shines.
2015 Mitsubishi Outlander GT
Base Price: $29,045
Price as Tested: $35,145
Pros: Standard seven passenger seating, quiet interior, available safety features
Cons: Requires premium fuel, conservative styling feels a bit dated