2016 Mitsubishi Outlander

Rating

72/100

Background

We’ve got to give Mitsubishi an "A" for effort. Many manufacturers rest on their laurels for a while following the introduction of a redesigned model, but the 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander receives significant changes after just two years on the market. This year’s Outlander has a fresh look that’s highlighted by an adventurous new grille, while additional standard features have proliferated throughout the lineup. But are these updates enough to elevate the Outlander from also-ran to contender?
Alas, the 2016 Outlander could only manage an SUVS "C" rating, just like last year and the year before. Our extensive testing of two 2016 models (a 4-cylinder SEL and a V6-powered GT) revealed that the changes are mostly just skin deep. Mitsubishi mentions numerous platform enhancements to improve drive and handling qualities, but both test vehicles failed to show meaningful progress, whether at our test track or on our real-world driving loop. Overall, the Outlander’s styling is definitely something different this year, but this crossover is otherwise generally the same.
There are still some positive points, such as a lengthy warranty, a standard (albeit cramped) third-row seat and respectable feature content. Still, there are a number of competitor crossovers we’d recommend first, including the sporty and fuel-efficient 2016 Mazda CX-5, the enduringly well-rounded Honda CR-V and the spunky 2016 Subaru Forester, which comes standard with all-wheel drive but gets the same combined fuel economy as the front-wheel-drive Outlander. If you must have a third-row seat in this price range, the 2016 Nissan Rogue could be worth a look, though the 2016 Kia Sorento would be a superior choice to both, albeit at a higher price. Overall, we appreciate Mitsubishi’s extra efforts, but the 2016 Outlander still has a ways to go in order to challenge the best.

Drive

Acceleration with the 2.4-liter 4-cylinder won’t stir your soul. If you’re driving in town, you’ll likely find its performance adequate, but there’s not much power left at highway speeds for passing or merging. Moreover, the four-cylinder’s mandatory CVT keeps the engine groaning at high rpm during acceleration, which can be grating for driver and passengers alike. The V6 certainly sounds better in general, and its conventional 6-speed automatic moves progressively through the gears in a familiar fashion. Still, 224 hp isn’t a particularly generous helping for a modern V6.
The Outlander is generally an agreeable car on long trips, with slightly less cabin noise at speed thanks to some additional sound-deadening measures for 2016. Handling around turns is uninspiring but secure, with surprisingly responsive steering for this segment. 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.

Exterior

The 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander is a seven-passenger crossover SUV that comes in four different trim levels: ES, SE, SEL and GT. Note that only the GT is equipped with the V6 engine; the rest are four-cylinder-only. Also, if you want all-wheel drive, it’s standard on the GT and optional on the SE and SEL, but unavailable on the ES.
The ES comes standard with 18-inch alloy wheels, LED running lights and taillights, heated mirrors, rear privacy glass, full power accessories, cruise control, automatic climate control, a tilt-and-telescoping leather-wrapped steering wheel, a height-adjustable driver seat, 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 controls), Bluetooth phone and sound connectivity and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player and a USB port.
Stepping up to the SE gets you foglights, body-color side mirrors with integrated turn signals, keyless ignition and entry, a color trip computer, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, a rearview camera and an upgraded sound system with a 6.1-inch touchscreen display and HD radio.
The SEL adds black roof rails, gloss-black interior trim, leather upholstery and a power driver seat. It’s also eligible for a range of options that are excluded from the ES and SE. The SEL Premium package adds a sunroof, a power liftgate and a nine-speaker Rockford Fosgate sound system with satellite radio. The SEL Advanced Safety package throws in automatic headlights, automatic wipers, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning and a forward collision mitigation system with automatic braking. Both packages include power-folding side mirrors.
The SEL Touring package essentially combines the previous two packages and adds an upgraded 7-inch touchscreen with a navigation system.
The GT comes standard with all of the above options except the touchscreen navigation system and the advanced safety technologies (adaptive cruise control, forward collision mitigation and lane-departure warning), all of which are included in the optional GT Touring package. Exclusive standard features on the GT include LED headlights, silver roof rails, chrome exterior beltline accents, shift paddles and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.
Stand-alone options for all trims include remote start and a rear-seat DVD entertainment system, while all except the ES are eligible for LED foglights and front and rear parking sensors.

Interior

The 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander’s interior is quite pleasant in terms of both quality and design. The dashboard has a sleek, subtle look, and it’s covered with a refined soft-touch material that’s matched by supple trim on the door panels. Infotainment features are class-competitive, highlighted by standard voice controls and a 6.1-inch touchscreen interface that’s standard on all but the base ES trim. The optional navigation system comes bundled with a slightly larger screen that gets a revised control layout for 2016, but it’s only available as part of a larger options package, hurting the Outlander’s value proposition.
The front seats don’t provide much lateral bolstering, but they’re adequately supportive on longer treks. The second-row seats offer fairly generous passenger space and can slide and recline for greater comfort, although the optional sunroof limits headroom for those with longer torsos. While some shoppers may see the third row seat as a plus, it is really only suited for occasional use by small kids. Still, it adds a measure of versatility that most affordable crossovers can’t match.
In the hauling department, the Outlander serves up 10.3 cubic feet of cargo room behind the third row of seats (enough for a load of groceries), 34.2 cubic feet behind the second-row seats and 63.3 cubic feet with both rows folded down. For 2016, folding the second-row seat has been simplified so that the headrests don’t need to be removed, a welcome improvement.

Safety

Standard safety features on the 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander include antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, hill-start assist, a driver knee airbag, front-seat side airbags and side curtain airbags for the first and second rows.
Optional electronic safety features include lane-departure warning and a forward collision mitigation system. The latter can sense an impending frontal collision, alert the driver and, if the driver fails to react, apply the brakes to reduce the severity of an impact.
During SUVS brake testing, an all-wheel-drive 2016 Outlander SEL came to a stop in 121 feet, a respectable result. A 2016 Outlander GT also stopped in 121 feet.
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 Outlander earned an "Advanced" rating for front crash prevention.

Specs

The 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander is offered with two available engines. The ES, SE and SEL get a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine that generates 166 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque that is paired with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). ES models are front-wheel-drive only, while the SE and SEL can be had with either front- or all-wheel drive. In SUVS performance testing, an all-wheel-drive SEL accelerated to 60 miles per hour in 9.2 seconds, a slower time than many rivals.
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 (with shift paddles) 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 for a crossover of this type with an upgraded engine.
EPA fuel-economy estimates for the 2016 Outlander are average for this class, starting at 27 miles per gallon combined (25 city/31 highway) with the 4-cylinder engine and front-wheel drive and dropping to 26 miles per gallon combined (24/29) with all-wheel drive. The V6-powered GT returns 23 miles per gallon combined (20/27).
With the 4-cylinder engine, towing capacity is limited to 1,500 pounds, but the V6-powered GT can handle a more useful 3,500 pounds.

Value

Satisfying interior features and quality; standard three-row seating; optional advanced safety technologies.

Verdict

Although the 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander receives freshened styling and other updates, it remains a competent but unremarkable crossover that doesn’t stand out from the crowd.

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