Earlier in the month, I wrote this about Mitsubishi’s Outlander Sport:
<em>Some compact crossovers are more refined. Some are sportier and others more utilitarian. But, for buyers facing winter weather on a limited budget, the Outlander Sport may be the value proposition they’re seeking.</em>
If you’ll concede that self-plagiarism in pursuit of truth is no sin, let’s make a small adjustment and repurpose that paragraph: … <em>for buyers facing winter weather on a limited budget, the 7-passenger Outlander may be the value proposition they’re seeking.</em>.
For reasons known only to itself, Mitsubishi broke the branding rules and assigned the name Outlander to a pair of vehicles, the 5-passenger Outlander Sport and the 7-passenger Outlander, which is longer by 14 inches.
The Sport is offered with a single, four-cylinder engine; the Outlander with either a 166-horsepower, 2.4-liter four or a 224-hp 3.0-liter six.
The four is paired with a continuously variable transmission (CVT), the six with a conventional six-speed automatic. We tested a top-of-the-line 2015 Outlander 3.0 GT S-AWC (shorthand for Mitsu’s Super All-Wheel Control System).
For 2015, the Outlander ($24,085, including transportation) receives minor styling tweaks to the front fascia, an expanded standard-features list and revised suspension tuning and CVT calibration. Improved sound insulation reduces noise, vibration and harshness.
Comfort and efficiency are the goal here, not performance. In fact, the six-cylinder engine — it’s standard on the GT and optional on the midlevel SE — is detuned slightly to boost efficiency. Furthering the effort, Mitsubishi boosts the use of high-tensile steel to reduce weight some 200 pounds.
With the 2.4-liter and front-wheel drive, the Outlander earns an EPA-estimated 28 mpg combined (26 city/33 highway); AWD trims fetch 26/24/29). Six-cylinder trims are rated at 23/20/28).
Standard features now include Bluetooth connectivity; automatic climate control; full power accessories; a 6-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3-compatible audio syste m; leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob; redundant steering-wheel audio and cruise controls; sliding and reclining second-row seats; and a tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel.
The electronically controlled S-AWC system has four drive modes – Normal, Snow, Lock and AWD Eco. The Eco mode operates primarily as a front-wheel drive vehicle that switches to AWD when slippage occurs; Lock locks all four wheels into AWD to improve low-speed traction in snow and mud. Included brake-control technology reduces the likelihood of a skid in heavy braking.
Underway, the six-cylinder GT delivers a balanced ride-and-handling package, with sufficient power for effective freeway merging and two-lane passing. Seats are firm and supportive and visibility is good in all directions. Predictably, third-row seating is cramped.
Calibrated for efficiency, the transmission shifts early and often. Paddle shifters allow the driver to override the default settings.
Mitsubishi backs up the works with its 5-year/60,000-mile basic warranty and 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.
The Outlander offers abundant evidence of the health of the auto industry. Its attractive sticker price belies a solid value. Budget-minded buyers seeking AWD security can start their search here.
2015 Mitsubishi Outlander 3.0 GT S-AWC
Vehicle base price: $23,195
Trim level base price: $28,195
As tested: $35,145
Options included navigation; lane-departure warning system; forward-collision mitigation; adaptive cruise control; sunroof; leather; power driver’s seat; power remote tailgate; silver roof rails.
Maximum towing capacity: 1,500 lbs
EPA rating: 23 combined/20 city/28 highway
Regular unleaded fuel specified