THE PROS & CONS
- What’s Good: One of the most affordable seven-seater SUVs on the market.
- What’s Bad: The third row is really small.
It has been many years since I have driven the normal Mitsubishi Outlander. And by “normal” I am referring to the gasoline version. With gas prices on the rise and people looking for a lower carbon footprint, gas-powered vehicles have taken a back seat in the news.
With electric and hybrid vehicles you will save money every week at the pumps. However, one of the main reasons that people are still not able to justify taking the plunge with the new technology is the initial purchase price.
For 2019, this gas-powered Mitsubishi starts at $29,198. Compare that to the PHEV (plug-in electric hybrid) with a starting price of $43,498. If you are like me and you live in BC, you can receive the provincial and federal incentives. You might even be able to take advantage of the Scrap It program. However, elsewhere, the difference remains substantial. So, I can understand why consumers are still looking at so called “normal” gas-powered vehicles.
Speaking of pricing, this Mitsubishi Outlander is one of the most affordable seven-seat SUVs on the market. Other’s include the VW Tiguan and Dodge Journey. The Journey, however, is slightly larger and fits into the mid-size category.
It is important to note that ever since the PHEV version of the Outlander was introduced, it has become the world’s bestselling PHEV, and for good reason. The Outlander PHEV is the world’s most technically-advanced four-wheel drive (4WD) plug-in hybrid. It is Canada’s only plug-in hybrid SUV to offer 100% electric 4WD capability and it is Canada’s only plug-in hybrid SUV with DC Fast Charging capability, providing an 80% charge in under 30 minutes. The 2019 Outlander PHEV was ranked fourth on the Automobile Journalist Association of Canada’s list of best EVs/PHEVs.
Another huge attraction factor for this compact SUV is being able to get into a plug-in hybrid for just over $42,000. Mitsubishi is planning to have 20% of all its vehicle sales be either fully electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles.
Despite the $14,000 difference on the base model of these SUVs, in Canada, sales have been similar. For the 2018 fiscal year end in April, 6,220 Outlanders sold were gas-powered and 5,325 were PHEV. Though this is a definite sign that things are shifting, it’s also a strong indication that people are still considering gas-powered vehicles.
The 2019 Outlander belongs to a generation that was launched for the 2014 model year and Mitsubishi has made regular updates since then. 2019 sees a much-needed redesign of this compact SUV. It now has a refreshed front fascia with available LED headlamps and lower bumper skid plates that enhance its athletic styling. It also has a stylish rear spoiler, so that the back end looks just as good as the front.
On top of getting a facelift, all 2019 models have an electric parking brake with auto-hold, rear air vents, a USB port, window switch illumination on all doors, an automatic up/down switch, a tire repair kit, and improved quality on the interior panel and door trim accents.
Inside, the Outlander cabin incorporates soft-touch materials, a redesigned steering wheel, and a navigation/multimedia system. The infotainment system is easy to use, but the set up seems a bit dated. What Mitsubishi has managed well is a balance of touchscreen features and straightforward physical controls.
Standard equipment in the base Outlander includes a 7-inch touch screen, a six-speaker stereo, HD radio, a USB port, and Bluetooth. Of course, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are available.
This cabin is not the most luxurious on the market, but it does work well. To me, the overall interior design is old-fashioned, and I wish Mitsubishi had incorporated a specific space for smart phones. There is a small area above the USB port and cup holders that would be useful for spare change, but really nothing else. Also missing inside the Outlander is centre console functionality. There’s no space to put a purse or other larger personal items.
The front seats are noticeably more comfortable than the previous model, with more side bolster support and a firm, but not too hard, cushion on the bottom. Spending several hours in these seats would not be an issue.
A standout feature on this compact SUV is the third row of seats. Climbing into the back is not difficult, but once sitting there, it is a very tight squeeze. Grownups will not be comfortable at all in the third row. The truth is if you need a third row for anything but kids, dogs, and smaller items, you will have to look into a mid-size three-row SUV instead of a compact. And, if that third row is a must have feature for you, then the PHEV version is not an option, as it is only able to accommodate five passengers.
With both rows folded flat, this Outlander has an abundance of space in the cargo area. Families that need flexibility will be impressed with how versatile the Outlander is. The second row splits 60/40 and the third row 50/50. Being able to fit a couple kids, as well as skis or other items for outdoor adventures, is a great selling feature. Unfortunately, Outlander doesn’t offer automatic folding seats or a hands-free lift gate like the VW Tiguan does. But that’s not a deal breaker.
The gasoline-powered Outlander comes with two engine options. The ES trims come standard with a 2.4L 16 valve 4-cylinder that has 166hp and is matched to a continuously variable transmission (CVT). The more powerful 24-valve V6 with 224hp is standard on the SE AWC models and the GT S-AWC. This engine is paired to a six-speed Sportronic automatic transmission with paddle shifters.
2019 brings updates to the suspension, handling, steering, and overall ride comfort. Thanks to a stronger chassis and redesigned suspension, this Outlander is more rigid and planted on the road. I experimented with some light off-roading after a long highway drive, and I was comfortable on all road surfaces. In terms of handling though, this SUV leans when cornering and the steering lacks feedback.
All Wheel Control (AWC) is the name of Mistubishi’s four-wheel drive system. When wheel slippage is detected, it directs torque between the front and real axles as needed. It is very helpful when maneuvering on slippery roads or in the snow.
The GT is the only trim to come with standard S-AWC. The S stands for super and incorporates torque vectoring. This system is meant to give you more capability and confidence. With the touch of a button you are able to move between AWC Eco, Normal, Snow, and Lock modes.
Mitsubishi says that this new Outlander is quieter, as they added sound insulation. I still found that when you put the pedal down, engine noise made its way inside.
If you have a small ATV or boat that you enjoy on the weekends, you will be happy to know that this compact SUV can do a bit of grunt work for you. The base 4-cylinder can pull 1500 lbs and the V6 can handle up to 3500 lbs.
A big plus for the Mitsubishi brand is its long warranty periods. The basic warranty covers five years or 100,000km and the powertrain warranty is 10 years or 160,000km.
A lot of driver-assisted safety technology is available on the Outlander. Blind Spot Warning (BWW) with Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA) and Lane Change Assist (LCA) are standard on all trims except for the base ES model. You will need to get into the GT trim for technology like Forward Collision Mitigation (FCW) with Pedestrian Detection, Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), Land Departure Warning (LDW), and Automatic High Beams.
If fuel savings is high on your list of must-haves and the PHEV is out of your price range, fuel economy is a metric you should consider. The 2.4L is rated at 9.1L/100km in combined city and highway driving and the V6 is rated at 10.6L/100km. In comparison, the Tiguan does get slightly better mileage, mostly because it has an automatic engine start/stop feature and the Outlander doesn’t.
As I mentioned earlier, the base ES-AWC starts at $29,198. The middle-of-the-road SE-AWC is $32,452 and it delivers everything that most people will need. This top-of-the-line GT S-AWC with Navigation Package had all the bells and whistles plus S-AWC and retails for $38,352.
When I drove the PHEV last year, what impressed me was that it drove just like its gas-powered sibling. If you can afford the starting price and three rows is not a high priority, the PHEV is an excellent choice. However, having the third row, even though it is a tight squeeze, will be a requirement for some growing families.
Other compact SUVs like the Honda CRV and Mazda CX-5 are more enjoyable to drive, but they lack the third row and have a higher staring price. Add on the extensive powertrain warranty and this gas-powered 2019 Mitsubishi Outlander is worth considering.