In the last few years, Mitsubishi has endured ridicule directed at its underwhelming Mirage subcompact, comments that have unfortunately overshadowed its largest vehicle, the Outlander crossover.
We say unfortunate because while the Outlander hasn’t enjoyed a significant update in a number of years, it remains a nicely sorted vehicle that competes surprisingly well in a field of vehicles built around more modern mechanicals and underpinnings.
The only change for the Outlander for 2018 is the elimination of last year’s front-wheel drive base model. That means all three of the Outlander’s trims -- ES, SE and GT -- are now standard with Mitsubishi’s “All-Wheel Control” (AWC) all-wheel drive system. In ES and SE models, it can vary torque distribution between the front and rear axles, and GT trim gets a Super-AWC setup with a torque vectoring front differential that improves the Outlander’s handling.
As before, the ES uses a 2.4L four-cylinder engine making 166 hp and 162 lb-ft of torque, while SE and GT trims trade that for a 3.0L V6 capable of 224 hp and 215 lb-ft. Both come standard with a continuously variable automatic transmission.
While Outlander’s smaller engine compares well performance-wise with many of its competitors, its optional V6 is an anachronism in a class that has largely moved on to turbocharged four-cylinders for uplevel models conceived to appeal to drivers who prefer more power.
The Outlander stands out more for optional third-row seating that expands its passenger capacity to seven, something few other compact crossovers offer. The Nissan Rogue, Dodge Journey and 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan are among the few that do.
GT models get standard active safety features including lane departure warning, forward collision mitigation with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control and blind spot warning with rear cross traffic alert.
But Mitsubishi’s largest vehicle can boast fuel consumption no better than mid-pack in this competitive class, with estimates of 9.9/8.1 L/100 km (city/highway) for four-cylinder models and 12.0/8.8 for the SE and GT’s V6.