Mitsubishi is not giving up on America just yet. And they have the 2014 Outlander to prove it.
After the Galant and the Eclipse disappeared, people wondered if the end was near for the carmaker. Mitsubishi is still around. Admittedly, it’s searching for a personality, but the company is here. And the all new Outlander is trying to make a stand.
Let’s call the Outlander a compact SUV. It’s measurements line up with cars like the Ford Escape and the Kia Sportage. It does have one big advantage that those cars don’t: a third row seat. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not huge. Your adult friends will grumble should you shove them back there. But if you have small kids or just like to know that you can carry seven people in a pinch, the Outlander will deliver.
There’s one other impressive attribute for the Outlander. It has a great warranty. Mitsubishi cover the car for 5 years/60,000, and the powertrain is covered up to 10 years and 100,000. Kia and Hyundai may equal that, but Mitsubishi does cover rust a bit longer.
So let’s talk about the car. It’s all new for 2014. Mitsubishi has softened up the looks of the front end. Gone is the big gaping snout. The old look didn’t bother me and it was distinctive. Having said that, the new look is more refined and less likely to turn off potential buyers.
Mitsubishi has done some major work to the engine. Horsepower is actually down, but fuel mileage is up. You have your choice of two engines. The 2.4 liter 4-cylinder delivers 166 horsepower. Not overly impressive, but the mileage is great. You’ll get 25 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway with a combined rating of 27. The second choice is a 3.0 liter V6 that bumps the power up to 223 horses. There is a price to pay. While the high mileage is only slightly lower at 28 mpg. The combined number drops to 23 mpg. My test car had the V6. It was enough, although nothing to get excited about. At least the mileage makes up for the power in the 4-cylinder. Incidentally, the V6 requires premium fuel.
You can get an all-wheel version that has an ECO mode. It will only send power to two wheels under normal conditions, and when the road gets slippery it will automatically kick into all wheel drive. That allows it to get better mileage. It’s available on the Outlander SE and the top of the line GT.
The Outlander has a Lane Departure Warning system that uses an onboard camera to make sure you’re not driving outside the lines. It also has a Forward Collision Mitigation (apparently they think “mitigation” sounds sexy) system that can help you avoid accidents by automatically hitting the brakes, if necessary. While I thought the lane control was just a bit touchy, I was impressed with the forward collision system (not that I almost hit anyone…).
Inside, the new Outlander is nicer than the last model. Personally, I really liked the dash. It has a nice simplicity about it. It’s not trying to overwhelm you with space age design. The layout made sense. The faux wood trim gave it a nice look.
Base price for the Outlander is $22,995. For that money you get the 166 horsepower ES model. My test car was the GT S-AWD model that started at $27,795 and stickered closer to $34,000 with options.
Mitsubishi needs to find a niche. It’s not enough to be a good car. When you’re the runt of the litter you need to give people a reason to search you out. Some folks are always looking for something different, and the Mitsubishi Outlander will deliver a different grill than all their neighbors are driving. But is that enough? I guess Mitsubishi is about to find out.