During the New England Motor Press’ annual Winter Test Days event we picked the Mitsubishi Outlander SEL S-AWC to take a very close look at and came away impressed.
Each February, the New England Motor Press Association membership convenes a meeting to evaluate the best winter vehicles in the world. From among the best in every category, a winner emerges. Like in 2017, this year, vehicles made by Fiat Chrysler America like the new Jeep Wrangler, Ram 1500, and Alfa Romeo Stelvio are shoe-ins for their segments. We were impressed and spent the majority of our time in these great winter rides. However, we had a chance to drive the Mitsubishi Outlander this past year on some dirt roads and the AWD system impressed us. So we looked for the keys to the 2018 Outlander SEL S-AWC trim to go for an extended test drive in some fresh powder.
The Mitsubishi line features Super All-Wheel Control, or S-AWC. This electronically-controlled all-wheel drive system has an active front differential, a type of limited slip differential, that takes the Outlander SEL a bit beyond what most compact crossovers offer at this price point.
One of the best features Mitsubishi builds into the Outlander is the ability for the driver to select AWD Normal, Snow, ECO, or Lock modes. Each has a role to play, and Normal will handle almost any situation. However, we found that when starting off in sloppy mud, the Lock feature helped keep the traction control at bay, so we could use the power to all of the wheels to move ahead. In snow, this works great too. Snow mode is great once underway, but if you are starting off in the deep stuff, having Lock mode at one’s disposal is a great plus.
Unlike many crossovers its size and price point, Mitsubishi also offers a pop-up compact third-row pair of seats. That makes the Outlander one of the least-expensive 7-passenger family vehicles in America.
The Outlander also has outstanding IIHS safety test results, earning the Top Safety Pick designation.
Mitsubishi is also one of the handful of affordable compact crossovers with a heated steering wheel. You won’t find that option on any Honda CR-V. Mitsubishi also has Apple Car Play and Android Auto capability, which you won’t find on any trim of the Toyota RAV4.
Overall, we came away very impressed with the $32,060 Mitsubishi Outlander SEL S-AWC’s capabilities in snow. Like in mud and sand, the Outlander punches above its weight class and is easily the match for many of the brands and models we normally associate with outstanding winter capability.