Mitsubishi is trying to push its way onto your shopping list by virtue of the Outlander's standard third-row seat (rare among small SUVs), a temptingly low base price, and some big discounts on the showroom floor. That might make the Outlander seem like a lot of car for the money, but don't be fooled. This is not a competitive model.
Despite recent updates, the Outlander feels old enough to have been cast in a "Friends" episode. Compared with the rest of its class, the Outlander is ranked near the bottom.
The Outlander is reluctant to corner, requiring lots of steering-wheel twirling. And with copious body lean, it's one of the clumsiest vehicles we've recently tested. The soft suspension makes the ride feel initially absorbent but can get unsettled to the point of occupants experiencing motion sickness. That's not exactly a recipe for a family friendly vehicle. And the continuously variable transmission and 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine emit a nasty howl befitting a Soundgarden reunion. The 24 mpg overall we measured is not a standout.
The touted third-row seat is okay in a pinch, but it's so tiny and limited to 5-foot 3-inch occupant height and you shouldn't count on it for everyday use. It's also odd that a vehicle with a third-row seat lacks A/C vents for rear passengers. While the second-row bench is rather roomy, the front seats didn't earn raves and don't offer lumbar adjustments.
The interior is dated, plasticky, and crude.
The Outlander's crash tests earned it a Top Safety Pick designation from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Forward-collision warning with automatic braking, adaptive cruise control, and lane-departure warning are optional.
These cars sell in so few numbers that we don't have sufficient data to predict their reliability.
Even factoring in the expected big discounts, we'd rather have a good used SUV. And if you need a third-row seat in the small-SUV class, you'd be better off with a Nissan Rogue or Volkswagen Tiguan.