“It is good to see that Mitsubishi is moving back to a more aggressive looking utility vehicle.”
The Mitsubishi Outlander is a bit of an anomaly in the compact utility market.
While most manufacturers sell 4-cylinder or turbocharged 4-cylinder version in great number, it’s the V6 equipped Outlander that is the best seller here in Canada – totally against the current trend. It might be that the previous V6 version was more refined, quieter and had a conventional 6-speed automatic transmission, compared to the rather loud, lacklustre 4-cylinder model. Well, for 2016 Mitsubishi wants to build on the success of the V6 model and try to sell more 4-cylinder versions by paying attention to styling, refinement and drivability.
The last update for the Outlander was just two years ago and it is good to see that Mitsubishi is moving back to a more aggressive looking utility vehicle. Not all small crossovers need to look aggressive but the previous model was so devoid of personality, it blended into the background. The updated 2016 model comes with a whole new front grille treatment, front pumper, even available LED headlamps and tail lamps. Mitsubishi might be accused of borrowing from the recent Lexus front design; the bold chrome accents do look similar to the Lexus Spindle grille. Along the lower part of the doors is a metallic trim piece that helps break up the body. The top GT trim is the one that gets standard 18-inch wheels but they can be ordered on lower trim levels as an option. Same for the power tailgate, it is reserved for the top V6 GT trim.
The Outlander competes with the Nissan Rogue and Kia Sorento for buyers wanting a seven-passenger, three-row compact crossover. Unlike the 4-cylinder Nissan, the Outlander only offers seating for seven passengers in the V6 models, so the Sorento is the closest competitor. Both share roughly the same dimensions too. The updates to the back seats include a much easier to fold second row of seats and the third row is still best for small children and only for shorter trips. The other changes are the new thicker steering wheel with chrome trim around the centre and new switches. The display audio screen has been updated to provide redundant tabs and switches around the outside; this treatment has also been used on navigation-equipped cars. Overall the cabin is well designed and roomy especially for the first two rows of seats. 4-cylinder models get a useful storage area under the rear cargo floor, the space used to store the third row seats in V6 equipped models.
Another reason that Canadians opted for the V6 models in the previous version was the much better driving experience, something that needed, and was, improved for 2016 4-cylinder trim levels. There is new acoustic glass to remove road and wind noise, more insulation between the cabin and the engine compartment and attention paid to the continuously variable transmission (CVT). Mitsubishi claims that the updates to the 4-cylinder transmission reduce friction and the wider range of available ratios helps this vehicle make a run to 100km/h one second faster than the previous 4-cylinder. The 166hp 2.4L 4-cylinder engine has been carried over but the improvements made to this model have transformed this Outlander. It has gone from a rough and ready vehicle to a refined, quiet and pleasurable place to spend time. The 224hp 3.0L V6 is still the one to get if you want to tow up to 3500lbs. and the inclusion of a conventional 6-speed automatic makes driving a more predictable experience but this version felt heavier and didn’t handle nearly as well as the 4-cylinder.
The 2016 Outlander starts $25,998 for a FWD 4-cylinder model. The base 4-cylinder AWD starts at $27,998. All V6 equipped Outlanders come standard with AWD and 7-passenger seating and the starting price is $31,198. The most expensive GT trim tops out at $38,498. Mitsubishi is introducing a new trim for the 2016 model year that includes a lot of the higher end features found in the V6 but offer it in a 4-cylinder model. It is the ES Touring with a power sunroof, 18-inch wheels, display audio, satellite radio and few other goodies and it starts just under $30,000. Mitsubishi hopes this model, along with the other improvements to the vehicles refinement will win new buyers over. The Outlander competes with a vast field of small utility vehicle but the 7-pasenger V6 offer is what sets it apart; that and the impressive 10-year warranty.
Contact the writer at zack [dot] spencer [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca
Power: 166hphp 2.4L or 224hp 3.0L V6
Fill-up: 9.9L/8.1L/100km (city/highway 4-cylinder)
Sticker price: $25,998-$38,498