The world is getting faster while technology prevails over anything remotely reminiscent of antiquated inventions or analogous to tradition. Philosophical ideology that more is better and faster is efficient is the prevailing view over prior times of technological and human evolution. This applies to our cell phones, computers, eating habits and transportation. How can we eat faster in shorter time or travel further on less fossil fuel? The inherent edge is bestowed upon the corporations we choose to dictate our lives. For Mitsubishi, they want to ascertain demands for a family friendly sport utility are met with great results.
Coming to market as a 3rd generation model, the new 2014 Outlander has been rehabilitated with an aero silhouette, all-new sheet metal and glass and a more advanced 4-cylinder engine. While the 1st and 2nd generation Outlanders (2003-2013) were similar to wagons in style, the current model represents a true Crossover Utility Vehicle (CUV), which is what customers are looking for when they enter this segment. If they wanted a wagon they would tap into Subaru or Volvo. Similarly, Mitsubishi’s bona fide stunner — the Lancer Evo — is defined for AWD rally performance by the Evo’s rabid fans. Any abrupt manipulation of that vehicle’s DNA would send customers chasing down a Subaru WRX. So I applaud Mitsubishi on the fine styling job of the new Outlander. They were also able to shave 220 pounds in the process by utilizing high tensile-strength steel, which comprises 55% of the vehicle. A new power tailgate also found its way into the packaging.
San Diego is always an ideal place to visit for a few days of active living and engagement. The southern region of California is also laden with the perfect roads for evaluating a new vehicle. Rightfully so we headed out west and ponied up with two of the Japanese automaker’s 2014 Outlanders. Mitsubishi will cover the CUV in three models:
- ES — $22,995 MSRP (all plus $825 Destination)
- SE — $23,795 MSRP
- GT– $27,795 MSRP
The new 2.4-liter 4-cylinder with 166-horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque is standard on the ES and SE with the GT receiving the 3.0-liter V6 with 224-horsepower and 215 pound-feet of torque. The 4-cylinder is rated at 31 hwy mpg and the V6 28 hwy mpg. This represents a significant improvement over prior gen engines. I drove in the SE and GT and found that both engines could use more power. Yet, they are efficient and that’s what Mitsubishi was gunning for. The standard Sportronic manual shifting capabilities on the GT will allow drivers to control revs while enhancing acceleration a bit and the standard Super All-Wheel Control (S-AWC) electronically-controlled AWD system adds confidence to the CUV in inclement weather or during sporty driving on dry, curvy roads. Mitsubishi does permit the ability to select an SE S-AWC model for $25,795. An Active Front Differential is packaged with S-AWC and is similar to the one on the Lancer Evo that distributes torque to the front wheels. The rear axle is mechanically based. Four AWD modes can be selected on the fly including Eco, Normal (full mode), Snow, and Lock for all-terrain performance with more bias towards RWD. Additionally, electric power steering replaces the prior hydraulic system and the suspension is improved as well. I had no qualms with the fluidness of the electric steering and actually find it more gratifying due to less effort to turn the wheel.
Safety is presented in various forms with the new Outlander. For starters, vehicle occupants are afforded the protection of 7 standard airbags including a new driver’s knee bag. If you opt for the $3,300 Touring Package Mitsubishi will raise you four with the following:
- Forward Collision Mitigation (FCM) — If an accident is imminent the vehicle will call to action. First it signals an alert warning to the driver. If more danger is presented it goes into a 2-stage preventative mode. First it will begin slowing the Outlander down, which the driver can override at any time. If the situation is severe it will go into stage 2 and brake as much as possible to bring the vehicle to a complete stop. Keep in mind FCM doesn’t prevent accidents but reduces the amount of impact if in fact a collision was to occur.
- Lane Departure Warning (LDW) — Uses a camera to send a warning to the driver that they have ventured out of the correct lane.
- Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) — Uses FCM’s front radar system for automatic cruising with the possibility of 3 speed settings.
Additional safety comes in the form of RISE (Reinforced Impact Safety Evolution) body construction. RISE increases the level of energy absorbed in the engine compartment during a head-on collision. Supplementary impact beams have been constructed within the frame to keep the passenger compartment intact.
Many strides have been made inside including various seating configurations for the 7-passenger CUV. More cargo, floor space and utility are offered as well. There are three audio systems to choose from. The $2,800 Premium Package will upgrade you to the 710-watt, 9-speaker Rockford-Fosgate surround sound; power driver’s seat, power sunroof, leather seats and the aforementioned power remote tailgate. This package is a no-brainer. The MMCS Nav with 3D mapping comes with the Touring Package.
The Outlander is a sound, efficient and safe CUV that comes with value pricing. Moreover, this time next year there will be a 2015 Outlander PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle) model to bring sustainability to the platform. Mitsubishi knew they would bring this variant to market and began product planning along with the gasoline model. Some companies understand the fact that the future is actually now.
Words by Kimatni D. Rawlins