By Matt Degen
KBB Expert Rating: 6.0
With veteran players such as the Honda CR-V, Ford Escape and Toyota RAV4 – not to mention newer rivals like Kia Sorento and Hyundai Santa Fe – the compact crossover SUV segment is among the most competitive for automakers. Among those battling the established players is the Mitsubishi Outlander. Now in its third generation and all-new for 2014, the Outlander is a capable SUV that offers commendable fuel economy, high-tech safety features and a long warranty. The Outlander's exterior now has a more rounded, conservative look that differs from its past angular and aggressive design. The Outlander still lacks the power, refinement and name recognition of competitors, but stands out with standard seating for seven and a starting price under $24,000.
If you're looking for a smaller SUV with seating for seven and commendable fuel economy, the 2014 Outlander is worth considering. Outlanders are also noteworthy for their impressive warranty, available safety features like automatic braking and lane-departure warning, and sophisticated all-wheel-drive system that's very adept in the snow.
The Outlander isn't the most powerful or most refined crossover SUV on the market. The Kia Sorento also has seating for seven but more potent engine choices, better amenities, and a more comfortable ride than the Mitsubishi.
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The Mitsubishi Outlander is all-new for 2014 with a fresh exterior and interior, improved fuel economy, and available safety features that include lane-departure warning and automatic braking. Gone is the past Outlander's innovative 2-piece tailgate design, replaced by a traditional liftgate with optional power operation.
Driving Impressions The 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander has two engine choices to get it moving: a 166-horsepower 4-cylinder or a 224-horsepower V6. Driving each version back-to-back, we didn't notice a startling difference when...... it came to passing power and acceleration. That's not so much a nick against the V6 and its 6-speed automatic transmission as it is a testament to how well the 4-cylinder works with the Outlander's continuously variable transmission (CVT). Still, if you regularly carry multiple passengers or need to tow more than 1,500 pounds, the V6 is the better choice. Steering is decently weighted, but the Outlander isn't much fun on twisty roads like more dynamic vehicles such as the Mazda CX-5 and Ford Escape. On smooth highways, the Outlander is a comfortable cruiser. The optional lane-departure warning system works well, but we quickly turned it off on twisty roads due to its sensitivity. The Outlander's sophisticated all-wheel-drive system made for surprisingly composed off-road driving.
ADVANCED SAFETY FEATURES
Not long ago, systems that could warn drivers drifting into another lane or that had the ability to automatically stop a car from rear-ending another were the domain of luxury models. Both features are now available in the all-new Outlander. We tested these systems and were impressed with their responsiveness.
IMPRESSIVE AUDIO SYSTEM
We've long been fans of Mitsubishi's available Rockford-Fosgate premium audio. That system now has a welcome feature called Dolby Volume, which analyzes incoming music and evens out sound levels across devices. This way, you won't be blasted out of the vehicle when one recording is quiet and the next one isn't.
All 2014 Mitsubishi Outlanders have seating for seven across three rows. The third row is very small. When not in use it folds flat. Though not as cavernous as the past Outlander's cargo hold, space is still adequate in the more streamlined 2014 version. Folding all rear seats creates over 63 cubic feet of room. Up front, the dash and controls are clean and simple, but rather plain. The "soft-touch" dash materials are just barely that. Base ES models are even drabber, with dead spots taking the place of buttons reserved for higher trims. The available fake wood trim works, but the faux carbon-fiber accents don't.Exterior
The 2014 Outlander wears all-new and much different sheet metal than its predecessor. Though nearly the same size as the last-generation version, the new Outlander is defined by curves, not angles. Instead of sporting the sharp lines and attitude of the previous generation, the new Outlander now blends in with others in this segment. Call it the mainstreaming of Mitsubishi. Another major departure is in back. Gone is the helpful split-opening liftgate and tailgate that made loading a snap, replaced by a one-piece liftgate in the new Outlander. The tradeoff offers ease in its own right with optional power opening and closing.
The 2014 Outlander is available in three trims: ES, SE and GT. Base ES models are the least expensive and come with automatic climate control, keyless entry, a 140-watt AM/FM/CD audio system, and 16-inch steel wheels. SE and GT models come much better equipped with heated front seats, a color information screen, 18-inch wheels, a touch-based audio system, dual-zone climate control, and leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. Those two higher trims also receive a standard backup camera. GT models come with all-wheel drive and a V6 engine in place of the 4-cylinder, rain-sensing wipers, and paddles for manual shifting. 2014 Outlanders carry Mitsubishi's 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.
Among the more impressive options available in the 2014 Outlander are its forward-collision mitigation system and lane-departure warning, two advanced safety features that can prevent an accident. Thankfully, you don't have to buy a pricier top-end GT model to obtain these features – they are available in the mid-level SE trim, bundled in the Touring Package. The package also includes navigation, a power driver's seat, adaptive cruise control, a power sunroof, leather upholstery, and a power tailgate. Music lovers will enjoy the punch of the available 710-watt Rockford-Fosgate sound system with nine speakers and a built-in subwoofer.
Outlander ES and SE models use a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine that makes 166 horsepower and powers either the front wheels or all four. The fuel-efficient engine runs on regular unleaded and has a towing capacity of 1,500 pounds. The Outlander GT uses a 3.0-liter V6 engine that makes 224 horsepower and comes standard with all-wheel drive. That more powerful engine uses premium gasoline and has a towing capacity of up to 3,500 pounds. All Outlanders are equipped with automatic transmissions, either a CVT in 4-cylinder versions or a 6-speed automatic when equipped with the V6.
166 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
162 lb-ft of torque @ 4,200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy, estimated: 25/31 mpg (front-wheel drive), 24/29 mpg (all-wheel drive)
224 horsepower @ 6,250 rpm
214 lb-ft of torque @ 3,750 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy, estimated: 20/28 mpg
The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of a base 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander ES is $23,820. Better-equipped SE models start at $24,620, and V6-powered GT trims start at $28,620. A top-of-the-line 2014 Outlander GT with the Touring package that includes safety features like automatic braking can reach nearly $35,000. Compared with the Outlander's closest competitor, the Kia Sorento, the Mitsubishi's starting price is more than $1,000 less. The larger Dodge Journey, meanwhile, starts around $20,000. Before buying, be sure to check the Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for the 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander. In terms of resale value, the Outlander has traditionally held up well with residuals on par with or even better than the Sorento, better than the Dodge Journey, but below 5-passenger crossover SUVs like the Honda CR-V and Hyundai Tucson.