2016 Mitsubishi Outlander: Better than You Think [Review]

2017 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

The all-new 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander represents a damn good deal. Our tester came with a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine and the SEL Touring Package, which includes navigation, a sun roof, windshield wiper heater, forward collision mitigation and an unpleasant Lane Departure Warning system (more on that later) among other features. Loaded with leather and an excellent nine-speaker, 710-Watt Rockford-Fosgate audio system, our 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander 2.4-liter SEL with S-AWC topped out at $33,095.

That’s a great value considering this is a three-row crossover SUV crammed with high-tech gear.

According to Mitsubishi, the Outlander has more than 100 new improvements over the previous model. After a few days of commuting, driving through snow, hauling children and even testing the all-wheel drive system known as Super All-Wheel Control (S-AWC) in Mitsubishi speak, this small family crossover left a favorable impression.

2017 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV interior
There are only a few vehicles that directly compete with this small three-row crossover SUV. The Nissan Rogue and Dodge Journey have standard 4-cylinder engines and available three-row seating. Other 4-cylinder heavy hitters like the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 and Mazda CX-5 are two-row SUVs and are better suited to compete against the baby brother of the Outlander, the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport. The 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander SEL 4-cylinder has a better quality interior over the Nissan Rogue and Dodge Journey. It also has a better highway ride than the Nissan and Dodge. Both the Dodge Journey and Nissan Rogue feel slightly more sporty on the streets.

Compared to its competitors, the 2016 Outlander simply feels like its well-built and Mitsubishi’s updates are noticeable. It’s quieter on the highway, the dashboard/IP displays are look much better, the seats are fairly comfortable — although more side bolstering would be nice — and the third row works well for kids or modest-sized adults. Its in-city handling characteristics are pleasant, but it would benefit from a system like Nissan’s excellent Around View Monitor other automakers are beginning to use.

2017 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV trunk space
Cargo and passenger space is pretty good. There is 10.3 cubic feet of cargo room behind the third row seats and 34.2 cu-ft behind the second row. Fold both rows down and gain 63.3 cu-ft of cargo space. While the second row seats do not slide, they do recline and easily fold flat with their headrests intact. Access to the third row is better than previous Outlander models, but it’s still a bit of a bother to access.

Weighing in at over 3,300 pounds, the 166 horsepower, 2.4-liter engine has to work a bit to get things rolling. Despite the Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) taking time to spool up, the 162 lb-feet of torque kicks in at 4,200 rpm, giving it decent grunt for passing. Still, a little bit more power wouldn’t hurt, but that’s where the V6 should shine. Brakes are excellent on and off the road, giving consistent performance despite the terrain.

CVTs tend to sap power while returning good economy and this system is no different. EPA estimates for the 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander 4-cylinder SEL is 24 mpg city, 29 mpg highway and 26 mpg combined – which is mighty good. Out tester returned an average of 27 mpg with a majority of those miles being on long, high-speed highways.

2017 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
The 8.5-inch ground clearance was especially welcome when we took the 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander 4-cylinder SEL into deep snow. By simply pushing the AWC button, selecting ECO, Normal, Snow, and Lock was exceedingly simple. AWC-ECO mode is for daily driving in optimal conditions, mostly using the front wheels, for the best economy. Switch to the Normal setting and the AWC system helps with traction automatically. The Snow setting works well on snowy roads and highways while the Lock setting is great for deep snow, mud and other movement-sapping conditions. Despite the challenging conditions, the 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander with all-wheel drive felt reassuringly competent.

There are a few flies in the ointment. Despite the upgraded interior design, the wood trim looks fake and the power lift-gate is painfully slow. Many people have taken issue with the annoying Lane Departure Warning system. Its beeps are irritating and, although you can deactivate it, it resets every time you start the vehicle. The deactivation switch resides above the left knee near the bottom of the dash, which is difficult to see much less use.

These annoyances aside, the 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander SEL represents an outstanding value for a family that needs that third row seat. Sure, it’s no Corvette, but its mission to be a family roller has been well executed. It’s comfortable, confident and crammed with goodies.

Don’t forget, thew 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander got top marks for safety AND it has a 10-year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty.

On the TFLcar scale of:

  • Buy it!
  • Lease it!
  • Rent it!
  • … or Forget it!

I give the 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander 4-cylinder SEL a ‘Lease It!

If you’re value oriented and are cross-shopping small, three-row crossovers, you could do a lot worse.

Better indeed.

No, there’s no Mitsubishi in this video, but it’s too cool not to watch!

nathan adlen Easily amused by anything with four wheels, Nathan Adlen reviews vehicles from the cheapest to the most prestigious. Wrecking yards, dealer lots, garages, racetracks, professional automotive testing and automotive journalism – Nathan has experienced a wide range of the automotive spectrum. His words, good humor and videos are enjoyed worldwide.