By Jonathan Micocci – GRAND Car Reviewer AKA Grandpere
The sound of a car door closing has always been a clue to build quality for me. Certainly in the 1970’s, the soft clunk while closing the door on a Porsche or Mercedes showed us how it could be. Very different from the clatter that occurred when, out of necessity, you hauled off and slammed the door of one of Detroit’s finest. By this measure, the Mitsubishi Outlander is one really well built vehicle (assembled in Normal, IL).
Actually, Mitsubishi calls it a Crossover, which sounds like a halfway house for recovering SUV owners. After all, 7000 pound mommy-mobiles are going the way of the blue whale and the Outlander is a transition step, keeping the ground clearance and ‘sitting up high’ sensation of an SUV while adding some new features like ease of parking and gas mileage.
We’re driving the base model 2-wheel drive ES but there is nothing on the exterior to indicate you can buy this Outlander for just $19K. The alloy wheels look sharp. Newly redesigned for 2013, the Outlander styling is clean and modern.
Opening those doors that fit so well, we find a cabin dimensioned for 4 to 5 full-sized adults plus good cargo space aft. Head and legroom is plentiful, front and rear. The charcoal cloth-covered seats on our model are firm but fit our frames, drawing no complaints after several hours of use. Overall ergonomics are excellent. The fully adjustable leather-wrapped wheel and shift knob are elegant touches in a value-priced model. Gauges are simple and straightforward, with the tach and speedo housed in a coffee can type display. You could option up to more electronic goodies or you could bring your smartphone.
Driving the Mitsubishi Outlander is a crossover experience… it’s still part SUV remember. I found the electric power steering to be a little numb but I’m a really tough grader in this department. Ride is good. The multilink rear suspension handles one wheel upsets. Braking is firm and linear.
The engine…. we’ll come back to the engine. The 2WD ES model only comes with a 5-speed manual which is probably a good thing. We did not sample the CVT tranny on the higher end models but the stick is excellent, with smooth light clutch and shift forces. If your spouse isn’t sure he/she wants a stick, try this one. And the Outlander needs it because of that engine.
The numbers tell the story: 148 hp and 145 lb/ft of torque are not a lot for an empty weight of 3100 lbs. They are ample and especially so because that stick shift gives you control based on your needs at the moment. Below 3000 rpm, there isn’t much gusto available but it works around town. Let it rev and acceleration is adequate. Out on the highway, the engine got a little buzzy and we picked up some wind noise, though I found I could fix both by driving somewhere near the speed limit. The most endearing quality of this motor is the 24 City/30 Hwy mpg’s, good numbers for a rugged people hauler.
I could see my daughter and her family in Northern California just loving the Mitsubishi Outlander ES and its ample space for kids and cargo. Whether threading through the redwoods or cruising the Embarcadero, the Outlander ES is an excellent value and a fun car… er Crossover.
Specifications as tested:
Engine: 2.0L MIVEC I-4
Transmission 5-Speed Manual
Curb Weight 3,087 lb.
EPA MPG 24/30
MSRP as tested: $19,170
Micocci reviews cars of interest to grandparents for GRAND Magazine. Of course, all cars may be of interest to grandparents and they particularly like high-performance two-seaters.
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