2016 Mitsubishi Outlander

Now in its third generation, the Mitsubishi Outlander is a seven-passenger crossover that straddles the line between the compact and midsize segments. It stands out as the most refined off-roader ever to wear a Mitsubishi emblem on the grille.

Recent Changes
Mitsubishi has thoroughly updated the Outlander for the latest model year. It gets a new front end that ushers in the company's next design language, a few interior tweaks, more high-tech features and a revised suspension.

The Outlander boasts an aerodynamic design that helps boost fuel economy. Its front end features wide angular headlights, a twin-slat radiator grille and two pieces of C-shaped chrome trim on either side of the bumper.

Out back, the SUV is fitted with LED tail lamps connected by an elegant strip of chrome trim as well as faux brushed aluminum accents and nearly vertical fog lights. Overall, the facelifted Outlander is markedly more upscale than any of its predecessors.

Life Aboard
Recognizing the importance of a practical and high-quality cabin to crossover buyers, Mitsubishi created a simple, functional dashboard with user-friendly controls. Gloss-black trim, wood grain accents and soft-touch materials impart an upscale aesthetic, as do optional features like a 710-watt Rockford-Fosgate stereo and an optional navigation system with weather, fuel price and real-time traffic info.

An available FUSE infotainment system lets drivers use voice commands to stream music from their MP3 player, place or receive calls and store contacts via Bluetooth.

The Outlander is one of the few crossovers in its competitive set to offer three rows of seating. The third row is handy for carrying children or smaller adults in a pinch, although it can seem cramped for longer journeys. Cargo space measures 10.3 cubic inches with all the seats in place; fold down the rearmost row, and there's 32.4 cubic feet, while 63.3 cubic feet are available with just the front seats upright.

Technical Details
The standard motor is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder that pairs with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) and produces 166 horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque. While many rivals have turned to more potent turbocharged fours for upgrade mills, the Outlander uses a 3.0-liter V6 with 224 horsepower and 215 lb-ft of torque.

Four-cylinder Outlanders come standard with front-wheel-drive and offer all-wheel-drive as an option, while the V6 comes exclusively with all-wheel-drive. The AWD system, which Mitsubishi dubs Super All-Wheel Control (S-AWC), runs in 2WD mode to save fuel until road or weather conditions call for AWD traction and features brake-based torque vectoring that helps to quell understeer.

In its most efficient form - the FWD four-cylinder model - the Outlander returns 25/31 city/highway mpg, while adding AWD lowers the four-banger's fuel economy to 24/29 mpg. The V6 Outlander is rated at 20/28 mpg.

Trim Level Breakdown
The Outlander is offered in ES, SE, SEL and GT S-AWC trim levels.

The entry-level ES model comes standard with the four-cylinder engine, front-wheel drive, automatic headlights, heated door mirrors, tinted windows, 18-inch steel wheels, a temporary spare tire, cloth upholstery, a six-way adjustable driver's seat, a four-way adjustable passenger's seat, automatic climate control, a multi-function steering wheel, cruise control and hill start assist.

Stepping up to the SE model brings features such as keyless entry, heated front seats, a 6.1-inch touch screen, a rear-view camera and dual-zone A/C. It comes standard with front-wheel drive, and it can be upgraded with all-wheel drive at an extra cost.

The SEL model ups the ante leather upholstery, an eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat and black roof rails. Also powered by the four-cylinder engine, it comes standard with front-wheel drive and it can be upgraded with all-wheel drive.

Finally, the range-topping GT model includes the more powerful V6 engine, a power glass sunroof, a 710-watt nine-speaker Rockford Fosgate sound system, a power liftgate, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror with a HomeLink transceiver, power-folding mirrors, a windshield de-icer and LED headlights.

Optional Equipment
SEL buyers can choose from three option packages called Touring, Premium and Advanced Safety, respectively.

The Premium package bundles a power sunroof, a 710-watt Rockford Fosgate sound system with nine speakers, a three-month subscription to SiriusXM satellite radio, power-folding door mirrors, a remote-controlled tailgate and a windshield wiper de-icer.

The Touring package builds on the Premium package with navigation, forward collision mitigation, adaptive cruise control, a lane departure warning system and rain-sensing windshield wipers.

The Advanced Safety package includes forward collision mitigation, adaptive cruise control, a lane departure warning system, rain-sensing wipers, power-folding door mirrors and a windshield wiper de-icer. The safety features are detailed below.

GT buyers who want the additional safety features can order the GT Touring package, which also includes navigation.

Occupant Safety
All Outlander models come standard with dual front, front side and 1st/2nd row side curtain airbags in addition to a driver's knee airbag, traction and stability control systems and a tire pressure monitoring system.

As mentioned above, optional safety systems include a forward collision mitigation system that uses a radar to detect obstacles ahead of the Outlander and apply the brakes to prevent or lessen the severity of a crash, and a lane departure system that warns the driver if the crossover wanders into an adjacent lane.

Key Competitors
If seven-passenger seating is a must for your future crossover, then the only similarly-sized alternative to the Outlander is the stylish Kia Sorento, which isn't as efficient as the Mitsu but offers more space and power. If two rows of seating will do, then the list of rivals grows to include a plethora of excellent models such as the Ford Escape, the Honda CR-V, the Mazda CX-5 and the Subaru Forester.