The 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander and I first met at the launch in Bend, Oregon last year. We got much better acquainted last winter when it was delivered to me in October at the start of a three-month loan. The elegant crossover impressed me with its versatility and technology.
The all-new Outlander is the only compact crossover in its class to offer seven-passenger available seating. While I don’t normally have a lot of passengers to haul, I took full advantage of this at Christmas when I joined my family in Bryan, Texas. My fifteen-year-old, 5’11”nephew made a beeline for the back seat, seeking the most private area of the vehicle. Admittedly, he had to sit at an angle to fit comfortably.
The particular model I drove, the Outlander GT S-AWC, is the top-of-the-line model, which meant I got to try cool upgrades like Super All-Wheel-Control (S-AWC) all-wheel-drive system, a bigger engine, and Rockford-Fosgate premium sound system, CD player included!
We don’t normally get much snow but this has been an unusually cold winter in Texas so I engaged the S-AWC in icy wet conditions just to feel a little more secure on the road. It also continued to save fuel by allowing the vehicle to function as a two-wheel-drive. Sensors will instantaneously reactivate 4WD when deemed necessary (poor road or weather conditions, etc.).
Powered by the 3.0-liter 24-valve V6 engine with 224 horses and matched to a six-speed automatic transmission, the Outlander’s fuel economy is pretty impressive. A 2.4-liter four cylinder matched to a continuously variable transmission is the base powertrain.
The EPA estimated fuel economy for this model should come in at 20 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 28 mpg on the highway. While I accumulated more than 2,600 miles overall, most were in the city, but I did take two road trips, one to Dallas and the other, as mentioned, to Bryan. Fuel economy varied. The onboard fuel economy calculator that resets after each restart, recorded average mpg of 18–28.5, generally hovering between 24–26 mpg. My total gasoline bill came to $200.
The ECO-mode button, standard on all models, seemed to enhance fuel economy and it reportedly reduces emissions by slightly lowering engine power on initial acceleration as well as the airflow volume of the air conditioning.
Certain design features of note include the Klingon-esque grille that adds to the gas saving aerodynamics of the front fascia and intricately configured rear taillamps. The test Outlander was also a beautiful shade of dark blue, specifically, Cosmic Blue.
Navigation has been less friendly than I would like. Admittedly, part of that was attributed to operator error—I misread the address/intersection function as one word—but I’ve used several navigation systems, most recently in the Infiniti Q60, and had no trouble. Heading to Dallas, it produced a longer route than MapQuest.
The interior could use more accent lighting, especially under the center dash, and the entertainment displays were hard to read during the day. However, the entertainment system was also one of the easiest to use for programming radio and satellite stations. The display allowed you to choose between FM1 and FM2 by touching the screen rather than scrolling to find them as most system do.
Testing a vehicle over the holidays offered many cargo carrying opportunities and the Outlander’s 63.3 cubic feet of cargo space with the two rear rows of seats folded flat was put to good use. I successfully loaded two Christmas trees, Christmas gifts, and two dollies to help a friend with a move.
Getting the second row to fold flat, however, was less intuitive than other systems. The headrests had to be removed and then the 60/40-split second-row seat had to be released by pushing down it to lift up so that the seat back could fold flat. Confused? So was I but in the end, I managed.
The compact crossover segment has been a boon for automakers, attracting young families with the promise of versatility and fuel economy. Over the last three months, the Outlander has come through on the above as well as safety, winning the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Top Safety Pick.
The test model came well-equipped with optional equipment like a lane change warning system that was a little hypersensitive but a nice feature on a road trip, plus the collision impact warning system promoted in the Outlander commercials. It really works—I tested it at the launch in Portland. I would still like to see a blind sport warning system and while a back-up camera is helpful, I prefer a parking sensor, especially at night.
Overall, the Outlander was a treat to drive and good value. The base price on the 2014 Outlander is $23,820 with destination fees. The test model started at $28,620 but with extra equipment, the as-tested price came to $34,720.