By Zach Vlasuk - Updated Date: 5/23/2012
As one of the larger vehicles in its segment, the 2012 Mitsubishi Outlander strikes a satisfying balance between compact and mid-size SUVs. The Outlander differentiates itself from the competition with an array of optional tech features along with aggressive styling, generous cargo space and available seating for seven. While its bold exterior design can certainly talk the talk, the Mitsubishi Outlander also walks the walk thanks to a sport-tuned suspension system, lightweight aluminum roof and available all-wheel drive (AWD) with three driver-selectable modes.You'll Like This Car If...
If you are looking for a small SUV with one of the most spacious cargo areas in the category, an optional third-row seat and arguably the best all-wheel-drive system available for a non-luxury vehicle, the 2012 Mitsubishi Outlander is worth your consideration.You May Not Like This Car If...
While the Outlander returns adequate fuel economy figures, the Hyundai Tucson, Chevrolet Equinox and the all-new Mazda CX-5 deliver greater fuel efficiency. Furthermore, the Outlander's taut suspension may be unsettling for drivers looking for a more relaxed, forgiving ride.What's New for 2012
For 2012, the Mitsubishi Outlander adds a new ECO indicator light that illuminates when the vehicle is being driven at peak efficiency and shows you when your right foot is getting the upper hand. Additionally, Premium and Touring packages now integrates the backup camera display into the rearview mirror.Driving It Driving Impressions
On the road, the Mitsubishi Outlander's excellent steering and brake feel, sport-tuned suspension and supportive front seats deliver a balance of comfort and confidence that will accommodate a range of driving styles. And though many of its competitors like the Honda CR-V and Ford Escape can tackle road imperfections with greater poise, we found the Outlander's lively handling characteristics to be worth the insignificant drop in ride quality. While the standard 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine is right-sized for basic daily driving tasks, most will find the available 230-horsepower V6 is more accommodating to heavy loads and spirited driving. On the fuel economy front, 2012 Outlander GT models offer a unique piece of fuel-saving technology called Idle Neutral Logic that automatically shifts the transmission into neutral when the vehicle arrives at a complete stop.Favorite Features
Fuse Voice Recognition
Similar to Ford's voice-activated Sync system, Mitsubishi's Fuse allows voice control of Bluetooth-enabled mobile phones for hands-free phone capability as well as streaming audio. The system also provides advanced voice recognition commands for iPods, including Genre, Artist, Album or Playlist.
An SUV with an abundance of cargo space and fold-flat seating is great for large cumbersome objects, but a protruding rear bumper can make loading such cargo an aggravating experience. Every 2012 Outlander features a unique tailgate-style rear bumper that folds level with the cargo floor, making it easier to slide bulky objects in and out.
Inside the Mitsubishi Outlander is a clean layout with distinguishable controls and plentiful storage space. With the rear seats folded, the Outlander can accommodate nearly 73 cubic feet of cargo – comparable to the class-leading Toyota RAV4. The Outlander's versatile interior offers a variety of configurations for occupants and their gear, including a 60/40 split/fold-flat rear seat with a sliding function for enhanced passenger comfort and a small, yet handy, stowable third-row seat for SE and GT trims. The Outlander's principal shortcoming would be the ES and SE model's abundance of hard plastics and flat surfaces that emit a budget feel when compared to competitors like the Hyundai Tucson, Honda CR-V and the new Ford Escape.Exterior
The 2012 Outlander commands a much larger presence than most vehicles in this category, led by its "jet fighter"-inspired trapezoidal grille and bulging fender arches. LED taillights and available xenon headlights (standard on GT trims) help communicate a level of refinement while GT models enhance the Outlander's athletic demeanor with a pair of chrome exhaust tips and a black-out front bumper insert. The wheel lineup ranges from the ES grade's 16-inch steel wheels to the 18-inch 7-spoke alloys found on SE and GT models.Notable Standard Equipment
The 2012 Mitsubishi Outlander is offered in three trims: ES, SE and GT. Standard across the board is rear privacy glass, LED taillights, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, a 60/40 split/fold-flat second-row seat and auto-off headlights. SE models add magnesium paddle shifters, 18-inch alloy wheels, a Fast Key entry and starting system – the key fob never needs to leave your pocket or bag – and a fold-flat third-row seat. The range-topping GT models add a 230-horsepower V6 engine, xenon headlights that are up to three times brighter than conventional halogen bulbs, and automatic climate control. Safety features include six airbags, active front head restraints and a reinforced body structure for enhanced collision protection.Notable Optional Equipment
All Outlander trims offer an available 40GB hard drive-based navigation system with real-time traffic, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system with wireless headphones, and Mitsubishi's Fuse voice recognition system. SE and GT models offer all-wheel drive, a rear backup camera, a power tilt/slide moonroof, and a 710-watt Rockford-Fosgate audio system with a 10-inch subwoofer. The GT's exclusive Touring Package includes leather-trimmed seating, heated front seats, and a power-adjustable driver's seat.Under the Hood
Mitsubishi provides a choice of a 168-horsepower 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine with variable valve timing, or a more powerful 230-horsepower V6. Despite the Outlander GT's fuel-saving Neutral Idle Control feature, ES and SE models and their 4-cylinder powerplants deliver an observable increase in fuel economy over the V6. The 4-cylinder engine drives through a continuously variable transmission (CVT) while the V6 is fitted to a manually selectable 6-speed automatic accompanied by steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters.
Outlander ES and SE
168 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
167 lb-ft of torque @ 4,100 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 23/28 mpg (front-wheel drive), 22/27 mpg (AWD)
230 horsepower @ 6,250 rpm
215 lb-ft of torque @ 3,750 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/26 mpg (front-wheel drive), 19/25 mpg (AWD)
The base 2012 Mitsubishi Outlander starts at a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $23,000 and skyrockets to nearly $40,000 for a fully-loaded GT trim with all-wheel drive. That price range isn't too far from rivals like the Kia Sorento, Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4. Be sure to check kbb.com's Fair Purchase Price for what consumers are paying for their Mitsubishi Outlanders in your market area. If strong resale value is an important attribute in your next vehicle, you will find the 2012 Mitsubishi Outlander comes up short. Moreover, we project the majority of the Outlander's competitors will maintain superior 5-year residual values.