The 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander benefits from a styling upgrade on the outside, but the big improvements are inside the cabin. Materials are better in look and feel than they were in the prior year helping bring the Outlander in line with other crossovers on the market.
The Outlander aims to be an affordable family crossover with styling to match. There is nothing flashy or flamboyant, but they have given it a bit more pop. The front end now features what Mitsubishi calls a Dynamic Shield that smooths things out in an understated way. Where many crossovers are trying to style themselves like sports cars, the Outlander is having none of it. This is a family crossover that looks every bit the part.
The interior is where the styling changes make a real difference. While the outgoing model looked, let’s be honest, cheap, the new Outlander is attractive and updated. In keeping with its exterior design, there’s nothing flashy here. There’s a little bit of piano black and chrome to accent the steering and dashboard, but this is one mellow crossover.
The higher end SEL we tested featured leather seats to up the appeal. They were 8-way power adjustable for the driver, 4-way manually adjustable for the passenger, and heated. The SEL also has a leather-wrapped door, armrest, and trim panel insert.
Second row seats split 60/40 while the third splits 50/50 and folds flat. The way the seats fold is not at all easy to manage, especially for the third row where the headrests have to be removed and tucked somewhere before the seats can be folded.
Let’s talk about that third row. Unless you’re in a full-size SUV, the third row is small in any vehicle. It’s best reserved for the kids, but in the Outlander even the kids didn’t want to squeeze back there. It was very tight and awkward to maneuver into those seats with practically no legroom. My 11-year-old sat there for about 10 seconds before she climbed right back into the second row.
Second row passenger room is better with comfortable seating and plenty of leg and shoulder room. Pushing the front seats fully back still left space for everyone’s knees, but front seating was a different story.
Though comfortable and supportive for longer trips, there is not enough legroom up front for taller passengers. Even with the seats pushed all the way back, knees hit the center console and the door making it an uncomfortable ride.
The Outlander is powered by a a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine paired to a CVT. It’s simply not enough power for this vehicle. Merging into heavy highway traffic was a challenge with a noticeable lag between the moment you stepped on the gas and the moment the car decided to respond. Once up to speed the ride is smooth and well-mannered.
The Outlander has received an overall vehicle score of 5 stars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The SEL Touring Package ($5,250) adds notable safety features including forward collision mitigation, adaptive cruise control, and lane departure warning. Insurance Institute of Highway Safety ratings aren’t out yet, but the Outlander was rated a Top Safety Pick+ in 2015 and stands a good chance of a repeat performance this year.
That SEL Touring Package also adds a Rockford Fosgate premium sound system with 9 speakers, navigation, auto headlight, rain sensing wipers, and a power glass sunroof. It’s an expensive package, but it kicks things up both in comfort and safety making it a good option.
Overall, the Outlander SEL is very well-equipped with a long list of standard features even without that package. Auto-off halogen headlights, fog lights, 18″ two-tone alloy wheels, black roof rails, and heated side-view mirrors are all standard. Inside there are rear heater floor ducts, tilt and telescopic steering wheel, color multi-informational display, and a 6.1″ touchscreen audio system. This includes hands free with Bluetooth, USB port, rearview camera, and steering wheel controls.
The 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander has improved for the model year with updated styling and a much better interior. Although lacking in performance, plenty of standard features and a price tag under $35 even with options make this an affordable and safe crossover for busy families.
2016 Mitsubishi Outlander SEL S-AWC
Base Price: $26,995
Price As Tested: $32,245 ( not including destination charge)
- Available Safety Features
- Awkward Third Row