Outlander Makes Strong Play to Join the In Crowd

December 2, 2008

We are excited to tell you about the refined 2009 Mitsubishi Outlander. Everyone could use a vehicle of this size and type. Yes, even you. It’s chock-full of luxuries. Our excitement is genuine; this sport utility vehicle (SUV) is a deep thrill.

We are excited to tell you about the refined 2009 Mitsubishi Outlander. Everyone could use a vehicle of this size and type. Yes, even you. It’s chock-full of luxuries. Our excitement is genuine; this sport utility vehicle (SUV) is a deep thrill.

As with so many sophisticated products, a manufacturer needs a minimum of 12 months of consumer use of any product to begin to demonstrate its value. We examined and test drove the Outlander from Mitsubishi about a year ago, and we were impressed. Safety and reliability data now show that the Outlander is a proven winner.

The Outlander is classified as a truck for safety purposes. From the same platform comes the 4-door sedan called Lancer classified as a passenger car for safety purposes. This platform is sold worldwide with different names: Citroen C-Crosser, Peugeot 4007, or Mitsubishi Evolution.

The Outlander is longer than a Honda Civic, shorter than the Honda Accord, and can seat 7 passengers. Few of us need 7-passenger seating, but a lot of us with even small families would like to have extra capacity and more convenience.

Pleasant View

This SUV has a noticeable lack of shiny metal on the outside. The monochromatic look is very European, giving the Outlander a tight, racy look. The styling is fast and sporty in all levels: ES, SE, LS, and XLS. The ES and SE come standard with a 2.4-liter, 4-cylinder engine mated to a Constantly Variable Transmission driving either the front two wheels or all four wheels. All CVT’s are automatic transmissions.

In an era of raised conciousness of energy and economy, the SE is the best value. It offers higher fuel efficiency and many convenient luxuries. We’ll focus on the SE.

The only 4-cylinder competitor to the Special Edition Outlander is Toyota’s RAV4. The Outlander is 182 inches long. The RAV4 is about an inch shorter. If you only need seating for 5 in this size category, you should also be test-driving Nissan’s Rogue, Honda’s CR-V or Subaru’s Forester. Like most of the competition, front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive is available in 4 and 6 cylinders.

Under the Hood

Mitsubishi has been building variations of this aluminum 2.4 liter, 4 -cylinder engine for decades. This engine is so good that Porsche has used a number of Mitsubishi designs and concepts in their 4-cylinder engine of similar size. This engine puts out its peak torque at about 4,000 rpm, making it excellent for suburban driving. This engine owes its success to the way it counters vibration and handles acceleration. The consistent automatic valve adjusting leads to a slow but strong acceleration. It’s nice to see that only regular 87 octane gasoline is required.

Continuously variable automatic transmissions are popping up everywhere. The competitive Nissan Rogue comes standard with a CVT also. This fluid drive transmission is very smooth with an elastic feel of acceleration. The transmission works to keep the engine near peak torque whenever possible under load conditions. Engines attached to CVTs tend to respond somewhat differently than they do to traditionally geared transmissions.

Move the transmission shift lever to “Sportronic” mode and use the real magnesium shift levers attached to the steering column for quick fun shifts. In Sportronic mode, the transmission separates itself into 6 distinct ratios (like Nissan’s Maxima does) to create a more geared feeling.

Driving Enjoyable Stability

18-inch wheels are standard—a nice benefit that adds to the solid feel. The suspension is well-executed. McPherson struts up front with a multi-link in the rear. Sway bars are standard front and rear. At the limits of adhesion wet or dry, you’ll discover the standard stability control for the ultimate in safety. Stability control really makes a bad driver safer and a good driver better.

The steering and suspension make this car most enjoyable. Mitsubishi has a long history of racing in the toughest venues in the world. For many years, Mitsubishi has been kicking the competition’s tail with outright consistent victories for world off-road rally championships. In real races, like Paris to Dakar, Mitsubishi is the most successful model in the race’s history.

The straight-ahead ride on highway or suburban roads is most comfortable. No slamming at pavement breaks, expansion joints, or small rocks. The Outlander handles more like a car than a truck. If you enjoy driving a sporty car, like, say, a BMW, then you’re likely to enjoy the handling. The steering is fast. You feel very connected with the road ahead. This SUV is agile because of the race car undercarriage. There is a playful character within the driveline steering and suspension that make this solid-bodied automobile very fun to drive.

Loading Luggage

Most competitors have a rear tailgate that opens up in one piece. Some allow the glass to open separately. The Outlander’s tailgate opens downward, effectively elongating the load bed, making loading easier. Sliding objects in is easy because of the fold-flat flap, which makes the complete floor from tailgate deck smooth. The load height is almost exactly 2 feet off the ground. The rear glass windshield opens upward with a surrounding frame.

Hard working Interior

Loading yourself into an Outlander is made easier because of the leather side bolstering on the seats. Power window and power lock switches are on the driver’s door in the traditional place. The driver’s cockpit is well thoughtout, quick to understand, and simple to use. The steering wheel has switches for audio and cruise control. More steering wheel switches are added if you select Bluetooth compatibility and navigation. The shift paddles are mounted on the steering column between the steering wheel and the turn signal on the left and opposite on the right side of the column. Paddle shifts and all switches and controls feel great, with great feedback.

In front of the driver is a nice big speedometer and tachometer. In the center is an adjustable screen that can give you different information about your vehicle systems.

The center console is well handled. Directly in front of the gear selector and a few inches above are three big simple knobs that control everything you’d want to control about the air moving around the interior of your vehicle.

Directly above the climate control switches is the audio system and/or navigation system if you ordered it. Unlike many of today’s interfaces, if you don’t order the navigation system, you would never know one was offered. Conversely, if you order the navigation system, you would never know it was designed without it. The instrument panel is equally as attractive with or without.

Some luxury carmakers will force you to buy a flat screen with all the controls, then still charge more for a navigation system that plugs into the existing hardware. If it’s not a navigation system, then a single small flat screen in a vehicle looks silly next to the big analog gauges in front of the driver.

The standard audio system in the SE is murder. 650 watts through 9 speakers, including a specially integrated 10 inch subwoofer. Speakers are well placed as high as possible in the doors and body structure. The audio system is built by Rockford Fosgate. It includes a 6 disc changer, audio jack for MP3 or iPod and satellite radio, which includes 6 months of prepaid service.

The optional touch screen navigation system is outstanding and pricey. It’s more like a small computer with a 40 GB hard drive. The hard drive not only carries the navigation system but it holds all your music and talking books. The navigation system costs over $2,000; it’s the kind you find in a luxury car with attractive graphics.

Three Rows of Seats

The third row of seats is an optional feature. Crawl into the third row and you’ll find that it’s only suitable for small adults or children. The second row seats are traditionally comfortable with shallow bolstering that makes easy egress and ingress, particularly for older adults. The front 2 seats have a youthful kind of side bolstering that holds you in place particularly when the center of the seat material is a type of cloth designed to grip you in a turn. The front seat side bolsters can make it a little tough to get out of the car but are great for driving.

Standout Features

Some standout features include an aluminum roof panel surrounding the power glass sunroof, rear LED tail lamps, dual exhaust finishers, and fog lights.

There is 115 V outlet so you can plug in a blender, a juicer, or a computer, if absolutely necessary. Most things that can run in your house can now run in your car without an additional converter. It is a thoughtful convenience. To store all of your household accessories, Outlander has 13 storage compartments.

The ideal vehicle to carry 7 or 8 people with great regularity is a minivan. We meet many people today with an aversion to minivan styling and what it seems to represent. Even if you have only 2 children, 3 rows of seats allows them to comfortably stake out their territory. A rear seat entertainment system is available with a flip down screen.

There are many options to personalize your vehicle. Like Volkswagen and Porsche, many Mitsubishi owners feel a devotion to this special character of car. Oddly, Mitsubishis have been for sale in North America for over two decades, yet they’ve never seemed to enjoy the popularity of Toyota and Nissan. Now, the Outlander and the Lancer sedan are showing up better than any vehicles in Mitsubishi’s North American history.

Proven Track Record

Mitsubishi has less than half of the dealers Toyota has but many more than BMW. Many of their dealers have not been strong, consistent, or long-term. New management over the last few years has been building an improved and better-placed dealer network. The improvements are noticeable, and more people are putting the Outlander on the short list of consideration.

Mitsubishi has never made a big profit in North America. They have remained strong by working hard to improve their vehicles. To encourage a public understanding of their devotion and long-term interest in surviving this economic downturn, Mitsubishi is now giving a 10-year, 100,000 mile warranty on the power train, and a 5-year, 60,000 mile bumper-to-bumper warrantee with roadside assistance.

It’s important to see the exact interior you want. It’s important to see your exact paint on your exact type of car. It’s important that you get the exact car your request. So plan on waiting, say, a minimum of 6 weeks for that exact car to be available. If you’re willing to wait for the exact car you want by placing an order, you can now negotiate with all the dealers to save the most money. Be sure and call ahead to make sure the model you want to try is available for test driving.

Fast Facts 2009 Mitsubishi Outlander SE Length 182.7 in. Width 70.9 in. Wheelbase 105.1 in. Weight 3417/3560 lbs. (2/4WD w/o 3rd row) Doors/ Seats 5/7 Drive 2 or 4WD Engine 2.4L I-4 cyl. Hp@rpm 168 @ 6000 Ft-lb@rpm 167 @ 4100 Transmissions CVT Sportronic auto Stability control Standard City/Hwy 20/25 Gas Requirement Regular 87 octane Built Mizushima & Okazaki, Japan Safety Score 88* Real Price $26,500 (w/navi) Website www.mitsubishicars.com *Informedforlife.org