Lately, crossover SUVs have become the renaissance men of the auto world, providing a good measure of capability in all categories. They’re great for family vacations, carpools and transporting the kids while also being more cozy and fuel-efficient than traditional truck-based SUVs. The Mitsubishi Outlander is no newcomer to this segment, and the 2015 model benefits from a redesign that occurred just last year. The problem with this Mitsubishi, however, is that it doesn’t excite or excel in any particular category.
To its credit, the 2015 Outlander with its base 4-cylinder engine gets above-average gas mileage for the segment, and when we tested the V6 all-wheel-drive GT model, we found it to have decent acceleration and a somewhat cozy cabin. Other selling points for the Outlander are its lengthy warranty and available third-row seat. That third row is pretty cramped, but if this is a feature you want, the Outlander is one of the few vehicles in its class to offer it.
Evaluated elsewhere, though, the 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander is pretty average. In an exhaustive SUVS.com test, we gave the Outlander a "C" rating. Competitors typically offer faster acceleration, higher levels of comfort on long road trips and better build quality. The Honda CR-V, for instance, is more refined and comfortable. We also recommend checking out the 2015 Mazda CX-5, 2015 Ford Escape and Toyota RAV4, all of which are great choices. The Nissan Rogue is another worthy contender, as it has an available third row of seating. With so many options for crossover SUVs, we definitely recommend that you check out the competition before settling on a 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander.
Acceleration with the 2.4-liter 4-cylinder won’t stir your soul. If you mainly drive in town, you’ll find its performance adequate, but there’s really not enough power here for pleasurable highway travel. Thanks to the nature of the Outlander’s CVT, accelerating up to freeway speeds has the engine at high rpm for prolonged periods of time, and the resulting noises are less than appealing. The V6 certainly sounds better and is more powerful, but it’s still not as potent or enjoyable as the V6s and optional turbocharged 4-cylinder engines found in competitor models.
Along the highway, the 2015 Outlander is definitely comfortable, but there’s a bit of wind and engine noise to deal with. Handling around turns is secure, steering feels natural and offers intuitive response, but overall, the latest Outlander isn’t quite as sporty as its predecessors. If off-pavement driving is a priority, the Outlander’s all-wheel-drive system offers selectable modes that provide a bit more capability on dirt roads and in deep snow. The system can be used for mild off-roading, but not much more.
The 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander is a seven-passenger crossover SUV that comes in three different trim levels: the base ES, midrange SE and GT.
The ES comes standard with a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine, 16-inch steel wheels, heated mirrors, rear privacy glass, full power accessories, automatic climate control, a 60/40-split-folding second-row seat that slides and reclines, a 50/50-split third-row seat, Mitsubishi’s "Fuse" voice-command system (for phone and sound control), Bluetooth phone and sound connectivity, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, tilt-and-telescoping steering column, cruise control and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player and an iPod/USB interface.
Stepping up to the SE gets you 18-inch alloy wheels, foglights, keyless ignition and entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, leatherette (premium vinyl) upholstery, a rearview camera and an upgraded sound system with a 6-inch touchscreen display and HD radio. The GT further adds the 3.0-liter V6, all-wheel drive and a few more luxuries such as automatic xenon headlights, LED taillights, shifter paddles, wood interior panels, rain-sensing wipers and satellite radio.
The SE and GT models can be had with a Premium option package that includes a sunroof, roof rails, a power liftgate, leather upholstery, a power driver seat and a nine-speaker Rockford Fosgate surround-sound sound system with satellite radio. A Touring package available for the SE and GT trims bundles all of the above with rain-sensing wipers, a voice-operated navigation system, a larger 7-inch touchscreen display and adaptive cruise control with a collision warning and mitigation system and lane-departure warning.
Stand-alone options for the Outlander include rear parking sensors, remote ignition and a rear-seat entertainment system.
If you’re judging the 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander’s interior by comparing it to past models, it’s definitely a step forward. Redesigned just a year ago, the interior looks more attractive and benefits from an overall sense of increased materials quality.
The front seats are a little on the firm side, but offer a good amount of legroom, as do the second-row seats, which can slide fore and aft and recline for greater comfort. While some shoppers may see the third row seat as a plus, it is really only suited for occasional use by small kids.
When it comes to hauling stuff, you’ll find 10.3 cubic feet of cargo room behind the third row of seats, 34.2 cubic feet behind the second-row seats and 63.3 cubic feet with both rows folded down. These numbers fall short of the cargo space in most other compact crossovers, including the CR-V, RAV4 and Escape.
Standard safety features on the 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander include antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, hill-start assist, a driver-side knee airbag, front seat side airbags and side curtain airbags.
Optional electronic safety features include lane-departure warning and a forward collision-warning and mitigation system. The latter can sense an impending frontal collision, alert the driver and, if the driver fails to react, apply light brake pressure followed by full panic braking, potentially bringing the Outlander to a halt if it was originally traveling under 20 mph.
During SUVS brake testing, an all-wheel-drive Outlander GT came to a stop from 60 miles per hour in 123 feet, which is average.
In government crash testing, the Outlander with all-wheel drive earned a top five-star rating for overall crash protection, with four stars for total frontal-impact protection and five stars for side-impact protection. Front-drive Outlanders have the same front and side ratings, but one less star for overall protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave all Outlanders the best possible rating of "Good" in the small-overlap frontal offset, moderate-overlap frontal offset, side-impact and roof strength tests. Its seat/head restraint design was rated "Good" for whiplash protection in rear impacts. It’s also worth noting that with optional equipment, the 2015 Outlander also earned an "Advanced" rating for front crash prevention.
The 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander is offered with two powertrains. The ES and SE both get a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine that generates 166 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque, paired with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). ES models are front-wheel-drive only, while the SE can be had with either front-wheel or all-wheel drive.
Go with the GT and you’ll get a 3.0-liter V6 that produces 224 hp and 215 lb-ft of torque. A conventional 6-speed automatic and all-wheel drive are standard. In SUVS performance testing, an Outlander GT went from zero to 60 miles per hour in 7.6 seconds, which is average in the segment.
With the 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine and front-wheel drive, the EPA fuel-economy estimates for the Outlander are 27 miles per gallon combined (25 city/31 highway), and 26 miles per gallon combined (24/29) when equipped with all-wheel drive. Equipped with the 3.0-liter V6, the Outlander’s fuel economy drops to 23 miles per gallon combined (20/28).
Above-average fuel economy; attractive, high-quality interior; available frontal impact warning/mitigation system.
While a number of attractive features make the 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander worth a look, it doesn’t stand out in a crowd of very competitive rivals.