The nicely styled Mitsubishi Outlander, the only compact SUV with standard third-row seats, is attracting more buyers after starting prices were reduced for the 2016 model year.
Sales in the U.S. are up 68 percent so far this year from the 2015 model year, in which 19,055 were bought. Much of the gain came after Mitsubishi Motors heralded the 2016 Outlander's arrival last summer with more standard features and an improved ride — plus lowering prices by $155 on all versions of Outlander except for the top GT model. Starting manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP), including destination charge, is $23,890 for the base 2016 Outlander ES with 166-horsepower, four-cylinder engine, continuously variable transmission (CVT) and front wheel drive.
While $5 more than the starting price for a 2017 Kia Sportage, the base Outlander is $755 less than a base, two-wheel drive, 2016 Honda CR-V. Neither the Sportage nor the CR-V have third-row seats, even as options, but have a standard rearview camera that the Outlander does not.
The 2016 Outlander with all-wheel drive also has a lower price and now starts at $25,890. The GT, which is the only Outlander with a 224-horsepower V-6, six-speed automatic transmission and standard power rear liftgate, carries a starting retail price of $31,890 — a $2,845 increase from the 2015 GT.
Consumer Reports predicts reliability for the 2016 Outlander as good, and it earned four out of five stars in U.S. government frontal and side crash tests.
The dimensions didn't change in the 15.4-foot-long Outlander, but the exterior styling is nicely freshened with new front bumper, fascia and tailgate garnish. Inside, new seat surfaces, steering wheel, ceiling material, interior trim and other upgrades give it a richer look.
However, the interior wasn't well insulated, as engine sounds and road noise were heard nearly all the time, and riders felt many road bumps come through to the seats.
But the Outlander test vehicle was never able to pair with an HTC m8 cellphone, and the voice recognition button on the steering wheel sometimes had to be pressed three times before it would activate. Buttons on the dashboard and steering wheel felt flimsy, and the silver-colored paddle shifters at the steering wheel seemed exaggerated, especially as the 3-liter, single overhead cam V-6 took a while to respond to hard acceleration demands. (Torque peaks at 215 foot-pounds at 3,750 rpm.)
While door openings for the back seats are nicely sized, the doors don't open a full 90 degrees the way they do in some other vehicles.
Front seats in the Outlander tester were comfortable, though lacking a bit in lumbar and firmness. Everyone had decent views, and second-row door windows were long and added a spacious feel. Seat cushions in both second and third rows of the Outlander test vehicle felt cheap and thin — and the second-row cushions were visibly thin.
With only 28.2 inches of legroom for third-row passengers and with the seat cushions resting close to the floor, the third row is best used by children, not adults.
The row can be stowed inside the flat cargo area, leaving 34.2 cubic feet of storage space behind the second-row seats. And with both second and third rows folded down, the Outlander offers 63.3 cubic feet of storage space.
The Outlander test vehicle, which had all-wheel drive, never came near the government fuel economy estimates of 20 miles a gallon in city driving and 27 mpg on highways. Instead, the average of 20 mpg in combined city/highway driving provided a travel range of only 332 miles.