Tom Crosby: Mitsubishi adds tweaks to 2015 Outlander

Tom Crosby

Tom Crosby

With major design changes having occurred in last year’s edition, the 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander, a small SUV, standardizes a technology feature and adds minor interior and exterior styling touches.

Our seven-seater SE S-AWC (super all-wheel-control) test-drive is the mid-range model between the base ES and the more powerful V-6 GT. Mitsubishi calls Outlanders Crossover Utility Vehicles (CUV) for their taller-than-a-car profile, interior cargo space and more car-like than truck-like ride.

Our SE rode nicely on 18-inch wheels tied to a retuned 4-wheel independent suspension system using MacPherson struts in front and trailing arm multi-link in back. Handling was typical for a CUV or SUV, with more confidence in tight turns and on-ramps with the S-AWC.

With its 2.4-liter engine and continuously variable transmission, mileage was excellent, averaging around 28 mpg on the highway. (Choosing the Eco-mode button helped reduce gasoline consumption).

However, the price for that attractive number was slightly sluggish get-up-and-go and increased noise drowning the radio during hard acceleration. Our SE added a $2,800 premium package that included an upgrade to a Fosgate audio system, sunroof, stitched leather seating surfaces, roof rails, wood trim and a power liftgate — a nice feature for any vehicle.

This year the once-optional FUSE hands-free audio link with Bluetooth is standard and connects easily with iPod or USB thumb drive for music access.

Inside, seating space is ample in the first and second rows. Third row seating is tight for adults (and head restraints need to be folded for good driver visibility) but just right for young children old enough for seat belts. When the third row and the reclining second row seats fold flat, cargo space increases to 63 cubic feet, ample enough for carrying bulky supplies. Cabin materials are attractive, not lush, and most of the easily read dashboard controls are easily reached, although the radio station volume dial is on the passenger’s side but can also be tuned via steering wheel controls.

Outside, there is a new upper front grille design, front/rear silver lower bumper trim, wheel arch trim and a chrome-accented fog light bezel.

Only Outlander fans will quickly discern the difference from 2014. While the Outlander feels structurally solid and has a top overall government safety rating for the all-wheel-drive we tested, popular safety systems such as adaptive cruise control, forward collision mitigation to aid braking power, and lane departure warning are optional.

LIKES: Base price, cargo space, mileage, ride

DISLIKES: Noisy, lack of power, must buy safety options

BOTTOM LINE: Small CUV/SUV is one of the toughest vehicle categories and Outlander’s competition may be found superior.

Base price w/destination fee $27,045 ($29,645 as tested)
Curb weight 3,461lbs.
Wheelbase 105.1 inches
Length 183.3 inches
Width 70.9 inches
Engine specs 2.4-liter, 4-cyclinder, SOHC,16-valve
Horsepower 166 hp at 6,000 rpm
Torque 162 lbs.-ft. at 4,200 rpm
Transmission Continuous Variable Transmission
EPA Rating 24-mpg city, 29-mpg highway
Range 15.8 gallons, regular unleaded
Performance 0-60 in slightly over 10 seconds

Tom Crosby is a former journalist and communications director for AAA Carolinas. He has been reviewing cars since 1996, and has been active in traffic safety issues for more than 30 years. 

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