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2007 Mitsubishi Outlander

The Auto For Outings

     This is a motivated little SUV for sure. The driving point behind the Outlander is its desire to meet the needs of those driven individuals who need more than just basic transportation. With the blurred lines the crossover designation has created it is little wonder that the Mitsubishi Web site calls the Outlander both an SUV and a crossover. I prefer to call it a cute-ute for a number of reasons, one of which I will get to at the end of our story. A case of mistaken identity? I shall have to ponder on this a while.
     In the meantime, the motivated among you are wishing I’d get underway with my story. Under the hood is a 3.0-liter V6 with 220 hp and a modest 204 lb-ft of torque. With only 3,791 pounds to haul around the Outlander scooted to sixty in 8.2 seconds. More impressively, hauling the Mitsu down from that speed we covered only 120 feet, equal to that of the MazdaSpeed3, which relieves the scales of 600 pounds. No sports car, but the Outlander will pace traffic just fine. The tranny finds all six of the gears without quarrel. Shifting manually we were able to keep the needle closer to the rev sweet spot longer, as our elapsed times indicated, but lightning quick shifts they are not.
     A look around the cockpit reveals a dash and instrument cluster that is just a wee bit space capsulish. Open all the glove boxes at once and the dash starts to look like R2-D2 after an electrical surge. Mitsubishi hasn’t discovered soft touch materials yet, but tight gaps and grained, low-gloss surfaces abound. What they lack in touch they make up for visually. The HVAC knobs are a bit large and cumbersome and the volume control needs to be a knob, not a rocker switch on the nav unit, but those are pretty minor quibbles. The little nav system joystick reminds me of a poor mans iDrive.
     I am not fond of the XBOX generation’s answer to manual shift driving, but at least the paddle shifters are neat because they are real metal. The seats are supportive and did provide a comfortable place to spend several hours on the highway. And for all those hours spent pounding the pavement, the 30GB hard drive and 650-watt Rockford Fostgate stereo system provide plenty in the way of entertainment
     So while you are rocking to the rhythm of the 10” subwoofer pounding away in the back, those around you are enjoying your 18” aluminum alloy 5-spoke rims. The exterior design is quite clever actually. The front clip looks trim with a simple yet unmistakable Mitsubishi grille surrounded by clear and bright HID headlamps. The greenhouse tapers as you go back and ends, rather abruptly, at an odd angle in the rear three-quarter panel. Which I should add is really my only visual gripe with this vehicle. The Outlander looks very fit and trim every where except at that rear quarter panel. The back is rounded out with some stylish cheese grater LED taillamps. Accessing the back hatch is unique because while the primary means of access is a liftgate, a small drop down tailgate provides a flat load floor.
     The thing is, the Outlander has all that you need. It’s just that you might have not known you needed it: three glove boxes, a cup holder in every door and two in the center console. The third row seat is well, laughable. It is there, it is technically functional, but most of all it is ridiculous. The whole assembly pops up out of the floor then kind of folds this way and that. Then these little flat alien heads flop upright and boom, there is your third row seat. Ingenious? You could say that I guess, if you happened to have two five foot nothing terrorists to relegate to that rear dungeon.
     As is often the case our editors are asked to do the driving for many of the social/family/and otherwise fun outings, get-togethers and gatherings. But recently when I was asked to play chauffer for my friends on the night of their wedding I just couldn’t say no. While the Outlander did not quite fit the part of a limo, the AT garage was fresh out of Audis, but a bit of elbow grease and some window paint, and this wagon was the Chariot of Love! Yes, I’ll be the first to admit I uttered the words “aw cute!” but I blame it on the atmosphere of the day.
     So there you have it, the Outlander is by no means out of this world, but it gets the job done and will entertain as well. A base Outlander stickers for $21,495, while our example rang the register at $32,455. Playing with the options can trim that bottom line a bit and makes it a bit more appealing. As it is though, the Outlander provided a good base of operations for all of our weekly activities.

The Good:
Clever styling, well-sorted transmission makes the engine feel stronger than it really is, great brakes, inviting interior.
The Bad:
Laughable third row seat, pricey option packages.
The Verdict:
All around fun-to-drive vehicle with plenty of flexibility for cargo/people/entertainment/etc.


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