By Allyson Harwood
KBB Expert Rating: 7.2
It isn't easy to stand out in the compact SUV segment, with over a dozen strong models like the Honda CR-V and Nissan Rogue. However, the 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander does, with unique styling, 7-passenger seating, a choice of a 4- or 6-cylinder engine, the ability to tow, and a strong value proposition. It may not have the most powerful engines, but the Outlander is one of the least expensive 3-row vehicles on the market, starting at less than $24,000. That price is actually $200 lower than it was for 2015, and includes more standard features. Keep in mind that Mitsubishi has a smaller dealer network, so you might have to drive a little farther for service and warranty work.
Want to take the road less traveled? The Outlander can be the ideal SUV for that. For those who want something that's unique, off-road capable and loaded with value, with a fantastic 10-year/100,000-mile warranty and a 3,500-pound towing capacity, this is a vehicle worth looking at.
The Outlander's 3rd-row seats are tiny, its engines aren't the most powerful, and the styling isn't for everyone. In addition, Mitsubishi's 3-row SUV doesn't have the same residual value as the competition. The smaller dealer network may also be a challenge for people who live in more rural areas.
KBB Expert Ratings
For 2016, Mitsubishi's Outlander undergoes a significant refresh, with new styling, a quieter, more refined interior, an updated navigation system, a revised 4-cylinder engine and new continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). The second row is now much easier to flip and fold. Aluminum-alloy wheels are now standard.
Despite being one of the few compact SUVs to offer an optional V6 engine, we recommend the standard 166-horsepower, 2.4-liter inline-4. The revised 4-cylinder works with an excellent new continuously...
... variable transmission. Acceleration is good off the line, and the efficient transmission ensures fuel economy is up to 31 mpg on the highway. The inline-4 feels surprisingly spry, except when going uphill. Even though the 3.0-liter V6 has almost 60 more horsepower than the 4-cylinder, that power isn't managed nearly as well. We would suggest the V6 if you need to tow, but the inline-4 has better response, better fuel economy, and is less expensive to buy, plus it doesn't require premium gasoline, unlike the V6. Steering feels somewhat numb on center, and the Outlander's ride is too firm. Handling is good, but not as good as in the Mazda CX-5, the segment benchmark, but the 2016 Outlander is getting closer.
Not only is the 2016 Outlander's new CVT automatic transmission highly efficient, it also squeezes every drop of power out of the standard 4-cylinder engine, making this combination an appealing choice.
ADVANCED SAFETY FEATURES
When you hear about vehicles that are available with features like lane-departure warning, adaptive cruise control and forward collision mitigation, they are usually luxury brands. However, the 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander breaks that mold, with systems that work seamlessly to keep you safe.
The Mitsubishi Outlander comes standard with seating for seven, who enjoy a noticeably updated cabin for 2016. Controls are easy to use, and attractive new dark bamboo-like accents on the dash and doors give the interior a more premium feel. The materials are nicer, the design is cleaner and the interior is pleasantly quiet. Flipping and folding the second row is now easy, thanks to a 1-2-3 system of straps and levers. That offers easy entrance to the very small third row. Fold down both rows and you create over 63 cubic feet of space for gear.
For 2016, Mitsubishi has given the Outlander a more aggressive nose and rear for a look that is unique, but isn't universally loved. The angular new nose, while definitely fitting into the Mitsubishi family, also hints at the looks of the Lexus NX SUV. A cool new feature is the electric windshield wiper de-icer, which helps keep ice and snow from building up on the wipers. Also new are power-folding side mirrors.
The 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander is available in four trims: ES, SE, SEL and GT. Base ES models come with automatic climate control, keyless entry, a 140-watt AM/FM/CD audio system, Bluetooth, and 18-inch alloy wheels. The SE adds a rearview camera, fog lights, side mirrors with signal indicators, dual climate control, and pushbutton start. The SEL come equipped with a roof rail, leather seats and a power driver's seat. GT models add all-wheel drive and a V6 engine in place of the 4-cylinder, a power remote tailgate, a 9-speaker audio system, auto on-off headlights, power-folding mirrors, rain-sensing wipers, and paddles for manual shifting. All 2016 Outlanders carry Mitsubishi's 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.
Among the more impressive options available in the 2016 Outlander are its forward-collision mitigation system, adaptive cruise control and lane-departure warning, three advanced safety features that can help 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 SEL trim, bundled in the Touring Package. The package also includes navigation, rain-sensing windshield wipers, windshield wiper de-icer, power folding side mirrors, auto on-off headlights, a power tailgate, and power sunroof.
Outlander ES, SE and SEL 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.
2.4-liter inline-4 (ES, SE, SE S-AWC, SEL, SEL S-AWC)
166 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
162 lb-ft of torque @ 4,200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 25/31 mpg (front-wheel drive), 24/29 mpg (all-wheel drive)
3.0-liter V6 (GT)
224 horsepower @ 6,250 rpm
215 lb-ft of torque @ 3,750 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/27 mpg
The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of a base 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander ES starts just under $24,000, $200 less than it cost in 2015. Better-equipped SE models start below $25,000, the SEL starts at nearly $26,000 and V6-powered GT trims start closer to $32,000. A top-of-the-line Outlander GT with the Touring package that includes safety features like automatic braking can reach $35,000. Compared with the Outlander's closest competitor, the Kia Sorento, the Mitsubishi's starting price is nearly $2,000 less. The larger Dodge Journey, meanwhile, starts around $21,000 – but a third row of seats costs extra. Before buying, be sure to check the Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for the 2016 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 Santa Fe Sport.