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Video: Redesigned 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander is not out of this world

Video: Redesigned 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander is not out of this world

When Mitsubishi introduced its redesigned Outlander small SUV at the Los Angeles Auto Show last November, few paid attention. With the fanfare surrounding the redesigned Toyota RAV4 and Land Rover Range Rover, the small and humble Mitsubishi was relegated to a footnote. That’s too bad because some brief hands-on acquaintance tells us it’s a sound vehicle.

Its predecessor, though not a hit, had a record of very good reliability and did reasonably well in our tests. The new Outlander goes on sale in June, but to give us an advance look, Mitsubishi shipped us an uplevel GT to try out for a few days for fee. We were especially eager to sample the Mitsu, as we complete testing on competitors, including the Mazda CX-5, Subaru Forester, and Toyota RAV4.

This third-generation Outlander carries over powertrains, and front- and all-wheel drive configurations. Unique for this class—offers a standard third-row seat. By early 2014 a plug-in hybrid will also join the line. Clearly, a regular hybrid would make more sense.

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Most versions will be powered by the 166-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine mated to a continuously variable transmission. Top-trim GT versions get the punchier 224-hp, 3.0-liter V6 hooked up to a conventional six-speed automatic. As is becoming the norm, the Mitsu has moved to electric power steering and shed some weight with the redesign, two moves that are designed to bolster fuel economy. The GT includes high-end options such as adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, front-collision mitigation systems, and a power rear gate. The GT starts at $27,995.

On the road, the new Outlander doesn’t stand out. The ride is par for the course, with some stiffness coming through. Handling is pretty mundane, and that’s too bad because the previous Outlander was rather nimble and engaging. Noise is about the only thing that stands out—and not in a good way. The Outlander is a loud vehicle. We found ourselves turning up the audio volume constantly to overcome wind and road noise. The V6 powertrain, on the other hand, is slick and unobtrusive, but is no rocket ship.

The cabin is roomier than before, and the redone interior has some pleasing soft-touch surfaces, improving on the drab environment of the old one. The third-row seat is also more usable and gives the Outlander a unique selling point among other small SUVs. (But if you are shopping by price, the larger Kia Sorento offers an optional third row for about the same price.) A single-piece rear hatch (power-operated in the GT) replaces the two-piece arrangement of the last model. Unlike some other recent redesigns, the base ES version doesn’t include a rearview camera or hands-free phone operation for $22,995; you have to move up to the mid trim $23,795 SE to get those things. Pairing a phone to the GT proved cumbersome.

We’ll know more about the Outlander and how it fits in the category when we buy our own and test it. In the meantime, check out our accompanying video for a taste.

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