You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

2016 Mitsubishi Outlander SEL AWD Verdict: Improved but not Perfected

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 12/6/2016 Motor Trend Staff
2016-Mitsubishi-Outlander-SEL-S-AWC-front-end-02.jpg 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander SEL AWD Verdict: Improved but not Perfected

Mitsubishi has been facing tribulations in the U.S. market for nearly two decades. It was unable to gather any momentum at the turn of the century and hasn't really participated in the post-recession recovery. What's more, the brand is facing a turbulent ride ahead with the recent fuel economy reporting scandal in its home market of Japan.

When the current Outlander made its debut for the 2014 model year, I thought the crossover might be a savior for the three-diamond brand with its more mature styling and long list of available features. After driving the refreshed 2016 model for a year, I'm less convinced that's the case, but the Outlander should at least be good enough to keep the automaker in the game until the next one arrives. Through October 2016, the Outlander is Mitsubishi's second-best-selling model, right behind the smaller Outlander Sport crossover.

The newest Outlander proved to be relatively trouble free during its 13-month stay in the Motor Trend fleet. Three trips to the dealer for routine maintenance were all that was needed after 26,871 miles. Those services included tire rotations, inspections, three oil changes, and a new cabin air filter. The total maintenance cost was $341.96. That is just a bit less than the $349.50 we spent on our old long-term 2015 Honda CR-V Touring AWD, which covered less distance. It's also a good deal cheaper than the $648.61 we spent on our long-term 2014 Nissan Rogue over its 12 months and 21,550 miles in our care.

The Outlander was reliable and cheap to maintain. But with so many other crossovers on the market, I could only recommend it to someone who prioritizes frugality above all else. As a no-frills entry into the world of three-row crossovers, the Outlander is a good option. The value proposition is strong for base models, but that gets less enticing as you start to pile on options and packages.

The crossover's 166-hp 2.4-liter I-4 didn't present any mechanical issues, but it did leave us yearning for more power. The engine is fine with just two people in the car, but as soon as more passengers or cargo are added, the Outlander struggles to get up to speed. Mashing the pedal to the floor can flog the Outlander to its desired result, but you and your passengers will be subjected to the endless engine whine that's characteristic of older CVTs at wide-open throttle.

2016 Mitsubishi Outlander SEL S AWC front three quater in motion 05© Motor Trend Staff 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander SEL S AWC front three quater in motion 05 And although Mitsubishi offers many of the same tech features as other automakers, know that not all lane departure warning and adaptive cruise control systems are created equally. We found the advanced safety features in the $5,250 SEL Touring package to be effective but many steps behind the competition in terms of refinement. The lane departure warning is far too sensitive; it beeps at you insistently when your tires even come close to the lane lines. The adaptive cruise control system maintains a larger than usual gap between you and the car in front of you even when set at the closest following distance and then brakes abruptly when a car merges into that enticingly open space. That sounds like a helpful driver aid, but it ends up feeling like a gross overreaction when there are multiple car lengths between us. Adaptive cruise is normally one of my favorite features, but I seldom used it in the Outlander because it was so jerky. The forward collision mitigation system does work well, however, and was good enough to earn the 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander a Top Safety Pick+ rating from IIHS.

The Outlander's interior is conservatively styled and would be considered boring if not for the dark patterned accents on the door panels and dash. The 6.1-inch infotainment display is dated but functional with easy-to-navigate menus and a responsive touchscreen. The leather interior that's standard on the SEL trim showed normal wear after a year. The front seats were reasonably comfortable the entire time. The second-row seats weren't bad, but passengers reported being uncomfortable on long trips.

Although I always volunteered the Outlander's seven-passenger capacity when the need arose, my adult friends and family rarely wanted to squeeze into the cramped back row. Needless to say, the third-row bench didn't get much use. But I could see how the feature, which comes standard, would make the Outlander attractive to families with young children.

Whenever I had cargo to haul, I was glad to have the Outlander's 34.2 cubic feet of space behind the second row of seats. That expands to 63.3 cubic feet with the second row folded down, which was good enough for a small ladder, oblong moving boxes, and numerous other bulky items. Although the Outlander's cargo area was very useful, waiting on the power liftgate to sluggishly open and close tested my patience.

Being the four-cylinder model, the Outlander was fairly good on gas. Our average fuel economy was 25.2 mpg, identical to our 2015 CR-V long-termer and better than the 23.3-mpg average of our 2014 Rogue. The EPA rates the Outlander S-AWC at 24/29/26 mpg city/highway/combined. Our Real MPG test results of 23.2/26.9/24.7 mpg suggest those numbers are a bit optimistic. With that in mind, our average isn't bad. The Outlander spent much of its time commuting in heavy traffic, too.

Our Outlander had a good amount of content for its $33,095 sticker price. But again, not all of those features work as well as those offered by the competition. I think the Outlander makes a more compelling case as a stripped-down base model. A front-wheel-drive 2017 Outlander ES is a great value at its $24,390 starting price because it offers more room than a Honda CR-V and has a standard third row for less money. It's a sensible choice for new families on a budget, and it would serve them well until they're ready to trade up. If by that time Mitsubishi has improved its crossover offerings, maybe the family could return to the Mitsu lot. If not, there are many other options out there.

More on our long-term 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander here:

Our Car
SERVICE LIFE 13 mo / 26,871 mi
BASE PRICE $27,845
OPTIONS SEL Touring Package ($5,250: navigation, forward collision and lane-departure warnings, adaptive cruise, sunroof, power liftgate, premium audio)
PRICE AS TESTED $33,095
AVG ECON/CO2 25.2 mpg / 0.77 lb/mi
PROBLEM AREAS None
MAINTENANCE COST $341.96 (3-oil change, inspection, tire rotation; 1-cabin air filter)
NORMAL-WEAR COST $0
3-YEAR RESIDUAL VALUE* $15,650 / $17,900
RECALLS None
*IntelliChoice trade-in/retail (at 42,000 miles)
Motor Trend Real MPG Chevron logo 02© Motor Trend Staff Motor Trend Real MPG Chevron logo 02
2016 Mitsubishi Outlander 2.4 SEL S-AWC
POWERTRAIN/CHASSIS
DRIVETRAIN LAYOUT Front-engine, AWD
ENGINE TYPE I-4, alum block/head
VALVETRAIN SOHC, 4 valves/cyl
DISPLACEMENT 144.0 cu in/2,360cc
COMPRESSION RATIO 10.5:1
POWER (SAE NET) 166 hp @ 6,000 rpm
TORQUE (SAE NET) 162 lb-ft @ 4,200 rpm
REDLINE 6,500 rpm
WEIGHT TO POWER 22.0 lb/hp
TRANSMISSION Cont. variable auto
AXLE/FINAL-DRIVE RATIO 6.03:1/2.28:1
SUSPENSION, FRONT; REAR Struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, anti-roll bar
STEERING RATIO 16.7:1
TURNS LOCK-TO-LOCK 3.3
BRAKES, F;R 11.6-in vented disc; 11.9-in disc, ABS
WHEELS 7.0 x 18-in, cast aluminum
TIRES 225/55R18 97H M+S Toyo A24
DIMENSIONS
WHEELBASE 105.1 in
TRACK, F/R 60.6/60.6 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 184.8 x 71.3 x 66.1 in
GROUND CLEARANCE 8.5 in
APPRCH/DEPART ANGLE 22.0/21.0 deg
TURNING CIRCLE 34.8 ft
CURB WEIGHT 3,651 lb
WEIGHT DIST., F/R 55/45%
TOWING CAPACITY 1,500 lb
SEATING CAPACITY 7
HEADROOM, F/M/R 39.9/37.2/35.7 in
LEGROOM, F/M/R 40.9/37.3/28.2 in
SHOULDER ROOM, F/M/R 56.6/56.1/51.4 in
CARGO VOL. BEH F/M/R 63.3/34.2/10.3 cu ft
TEST DATA
ACCELERATION TO MPH
0-30 3.3 sec
0-40 5.0
0-50 6.8
0-60 9.2
0-70 11.9
0-80 15.7
PASSING, 45-65 MPH 4.7
QUARTER MILE 17.0 sec @ 83.1 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 119 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.77 g (avg)
MT FIGURE EIGHT 28.8 sec @ 0.56 g (avg)
TOP-GEAR REVS @ 60 MPH 2,000 rpm
CONSUMER INFO
STABILITY/TRACTION CONTROL Yes/yes
AIRBAGS Dual front, front side, f/r curtain, driver knee
BASIC WARRANTY 5 yrs/60,000 miles
POWERTRAIN WARRANTY 10 yrs/100,000 miles
ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE 5 yrs/unlimited miles
FUEL CAPACITY 15.8 gal
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB ECON 24/29/26 mpg
ENERGY CONS., CITY/HWY 140/116 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.75 lb/mile
REAL MPG, CITY/HWY/COMB 23.2/26.9/24.7 mpg
RECOMMENDED FUEL Unleaded regular

AdChoices
AdChoices

More from Motor Trend

Loading...

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon