By Derek Price
The Mitsubishi Outlander is trying hard to stay competitive with a long list of updates for 2016, including a much improved sense of style and a quieter cabin.
To be clear, it had a long way to go after being outclassed last year. The updates are needed and overdue for a vehicle that was too thirsty, too noisy and too dull before.
I think Mitsubishi recognized these drawbacks, which is why they made more than 100 improvements to the Outlander in a major refresh for 2016. And it starts with the way it looks.
The Outlander has a more sculpted body now that Mitsubishi has applied what it calls the “Dynamic Shield” design to the front end. It’s an interesting mixture, combining the rugged looking bumpers inspired by the old Montero SUV with a sleeker, sexier, more car-like shape overall.
Personally, I think it works perfectly. It’s a nice improvement.
Even more than the fresh styling, though, the Outlander was screaming for refinements to its ride and handling last year. For the most part, the changes deliver a nicely composed, surprisingly quiet ride.
A new suspension design and electric power steering make it feel lighter and more controlled. Thicker glass on the rear doors, better weather stripping and more sound insulation help to keep out the road, engine and wind noise. The overall impression is a vehicle that feels more up-to-date and sophisticated than before.
The interior gets a thorough refresh, including a new steering wheel, better seating materials and accent trim, and a standard digital display for its audio system.
Until it gets a new-generation design, though, it’s still got some drawbacks of the older model: tight rear seat space, only so-so gas mileage (25 city, 31 highway) and acceleration that feels hampered by its heft.
The base engine is a 2.4-liter four cylinder that makes 166 horsepower, barely enough for a 3,300-pound vehicle, but it also offers a rare V6 treat for a compact crossover. The 3.0-liter V6 offers a much more comfortable 224 horses, but it does so at the expense of gas mileage, dropping it down to 20 mpg in city driving with all-wheel drive.
Overall, the Outlander is aiming to offer a good value in the crossover market. It comes standard with automatic climate control, remote keyless entry and LED markers and taillights that make it look more upscale at night.
It’s also offering a lower price for its high-end safety features like forward collision mitigation, lane departure warning and adaptive cruise control.
As a whole, the small changes add up to a big difference for the Outlander. It’s almost like a completely different vehicle now, with drastically improved road manners and refinements that keep it competitive in the hotly contested crossover market.
At a Glance
What was tested?
2016 Mitsubishi Outlander 2.4 SEL 2WD ($24,995). Options: SEL Touring Package ($5,250). Price as tested (including $850 destination charge): $31,095
Wheelbase: 105.1 in.
Length: 184.8 in.
Width: 71.3 in.
Height: 66.1 in.
Engine: 2.4-liter inline four cylinder (166 hp, 162 lb.-ft.)
Transmission: Continuously variable transmission
Mileage: 25 city, 31 highway
2016 Mitsubishi Outlander
Why buy it?
It offers a noticeably quieter, more supple ride than before. Other improvements make it feel more refined both inside and out.