If you’re looking for seven seats and need them on the cheap, then the revised 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander could be worth a look.
What is it?
The Mitsubishi Outlander distinguishes itself in being the US market’s least-expensive crossover with seven seats. It received a styling and features update for 2016, and fall 2016 saw the arrival of the Outlander PHEV, which Mitsubishi bills as the world’s first plug-in hybrid.
Pricing and trims
Outlanders come in four trim levels, ranging in price from $22,995 for the front-wheel drive ES to the $30,995 all-wheel drive GT S-AWC.
All Outlanders have these snazzy 18-inch alloy wheels.
The heated front seats become standard on the second-to-highest SEL trim…
Our tester was the top Outlander GT S-AWC trim.
The GT S-AWC has a long list of features, including LED headlights…
…power folding mirrors…
…a power tailgate…
…and a power sunroof. Note the number of warning notices Mitsubishi applies, which combine to lend the Outlander a rental-car vibe.
This Outlander GT S-AWC had the $3,350 GT Touring Package, which includes navigation, Forward Collision Mitigation, Adaptive Cruise Control and Lane Departure Warning.
Total with the $895 destination charge was $35,195, which is a notable $12K above the most basic configuration.
The Outlander distinguished itself both in crash tests and available safety gear in its Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) ratings.
To get front crash prevention equipment in an Outlander, you’d need to start with the $24,995 SEL, the second-highest trim level, and then add the $1,550 SEL Advanced Safety Package.
This safety equipment requires a bigger cash outlay in the top GT S-AWC trim, where it’s packaged with navigation to add $3,350 to the total.
Two engines are offered on the Outlander, a four-cylinder and a V6. The 166-horsepower four powers the lower three trims, while the top GT S-AWC has the 224-horsepower V6.
As turbocharged four-cylinder engines become common, you might assume that GT S-AWC’s V6 would perform with outsized might.
That’s not the case. Acceleration felt adequate but not particularly speedy, as its low-end response seemed a little lazy. Passing was stronger, though, and the V6 felt smoother than many fours.
The V6’s gas mileage is about par for its class, with a 23-mpg overall rating. It sacrifices three miles per gallon versus the Outlander’s four-cylinder.
The CVT transmission was innocuous in its work, with few of the rubberband-like rev overruns that can mar the breed. Mitsubishi says it comes from a new-for-2016 generation of CVTs, and it’s notably improved.
Behind the steering wheel are flippers to manually raise or lower the CVT’s revs, and they felt direct in their actions.
Ride and handing
As with the GT S-AWC’s V6 engine, the tester’s handling was unremarkable. The Outlander was magnanimous in reacting to your steering inputs, but an overall lack of sharpness discouraged you from seeing if you could take the next curve a little more quickly.
We had no occasion during our sunny week with this Outlander to test its tractive abilities, but the elaborately-named Super All Wheel Control has three modes with increasing amounts of dig: Normal, Snow and Lock. For maximum fuel economy, you’d specify the fourth mode, AWC Eco, which switches your Outlander to front-wheel drive to save gas.
The tested GT S-AWC had comfortable front seats trimmed with decent-quality leather. One boon for taller drivers was the cushion’s range of adjustment, where you could tip up the front for ample thigh support.
The rear seats were roomy, and they slid forward and back and reclined.
The third row is a tough sell for anyone taller than 5’5″ or so, though the space can be expanded a bit if the second-row occupants can be convinced to slide their seats forward.
With all the seats up, a gym bag can take up most of the available cargo space, though this area will also accept a row of grocery sacks.
Off to the left is the subwoofer that thumps out the GT S-AWC’s 710-watt Rockford Fosgate sound system.
Infotainment and controls
Trendy piano-black plastic trim surrounds the Outlander’s controls, even on the steering wheel, which is unique. Such glossy black finishes tend to show dust quickly, but they look great when they’re wiped clean.
The wheel has a helpful array of controls for phone, audio system and cruise control functions.
The GT S-AWC’s infotainment system worked well. The standard screen is 6.1 inches, and this HD seven-incher accompanies the navigation option. It had clear graphics and a quick touch response, and the nine-speaker Rockford Fosgate audio sounded terrific.
Neither Apple CarPlay nor Android Auto are available on the 2016 Outlander.
The Outlander probably isn’t the crossover of your dreams, but it does have its charms.
Family-minded buyers will love the Outlander’s exemplary crash test ratings, and the availability of forward crash prevention on an Outlander priced out below $30,000 allows for a wider array of buyers to obtain this useful technology.
Additionally, the Outlander’s first two rows feel broad and roomy, considering this crossover’s relatively small exterior size, and the fact that you can get seven seats for so little cash – in a vehicle that looks upscale with those neat 18-inch wheels standard – means that the Outlander packs a lot of value for the price.
On the other hand, the Outlander’s tight third row limits its usefulness, and the driving experience is more on the buttered-toast end of the stimulation spectrum. And, the Outlander can get pricey if you check off every option box.
Still, the Outlander’s pluses may outweigh all of that. If it works for you, then the Outlander may be all the crossover you’d need.
2016 Mitsubishi Outlander GT S-AWC
Base Price: $31,845 (includes destination charge)
Price As Tested: $35,195
GT Touring Package: $3,350
MMCS Navigation System
Forward Collision Mitigation
Adaptive Cruise Control
Lane Departure Warning