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Mitsubishi adds minor tweaks to its 2015 Outlander.

With major design changes having occurred in last year’s edition, the Mitsubishi Outlander standardized a technology feature and added minor styling touches for 2015.

Tundra

You’ll get a comfortable ride in the SE model of the 2015 Outlander. Mitsubishi Motors photo

This year, the once-optional FUSE hands-free audio link with Bluetooth comes standard in the Outlander and connects easily with iPod or USB thumb drives.

Outside, there is a new front grille design, front/rear silver lower bumper trim, wheel arch trim, and a chrome-accented fog light bezel. But I suspect only Outlander fans will quickly discern the difference from 2014.

Mitsubishi describes its SUV crossover to have a taller-than-a-car profile, although it’s supposed to ride more like a car than a truck. Our test drive was the seven-seat SE S-AWC (super all-wheel control) model, which falls between the base ES and the more powerful V-6 GT.

The SE rode nicely on 18-inch wheels tied to a retuned four-wheel independent suspension system using MacPherson struts in front and trailing arm multi-link in back. Handling was typical for a SUV, with S-AWC providing more confidence in tight turns and on-ramps. With its 2.4-liter engine and continuously variable transmission, mileage was excellent, averaging around 28 mpg on the highway. Choosing the Eco-mode button helped reduce gasoline consumption.

However, the price for that attractive number was a slightly sluggish pickup and increased noise drowning the radio during hard acceleration.

Inside, seating space is ample in the first and second rows. Third row seating is tight for adults (and head restraints need to be folded for good driver visibility) but just right for young children old enough for seat belts. When the third row and the reclining second row seats fold flat, cargo space increases to 63 cubic feet, ample enough for carrying bulky supplies.

Cabin materials are attractive–not lush–and most of the easily read dashboard controls are accessible, although the radio volume dial is on the passenger’s side but it can also be tuned via steering wheel controls.

Our SE added a $2,800 premium package that included an upgrade to a Fosgate® audio system, sunroof, stitched-leather seating surfaces, roof rails, wood trim, and a power remote tailgate, a nice feature for any vehicle.

While the Outlander feels structurally solid and has a top overall government safety rating for the all-wheel drive we tested, popular safety systems such as adaptive cruise control, forward collision mitigation to aid braking power, and lane departure warning are optional.

Likes: Base price, cargo space, mileage, ride

Dislikes: Noisy, lack of power, must buy safety options

Bottom Line: The crossover SUV is one of the toughest vehicle categories, and Outlander’s competition may be found superior.

Tom Crosby is a contributor from Charlotte, N.C.

January/February 2015 Issue


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