Mitsubishi Outlander: No Frills Simplicity

JAMES RAIA
Motor Matters

Mitsubishi for years has been among the lowest-selling mainstream manufacturers. The company doesn’t typically offer much flash or innovation, and its marketing campaigns are restrained. Still, the 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander — the carmaker’s stalwart SUV — combines some very worthy attractions.

The Outlander is among the least-expensive compact crossovers. It has three rows of seating and, along with Kia and Hyundai, Mitsubishi offers the industry’s best powertrain warranty, at 10 years/100,000 miles.

For buyers interested in value over brand prestige and who are not particularly concerned about performance or a luxury ride, the redone Outlander Sport GT is intriguing. The idea appears to have caught on.

Available in the entry-level ES trim and moving up to SP, SE, and GT, the 2020 Outlander is at its best in the top-line Sport GT. It’s powered with a 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine with 168 horsepower and a continuously variable transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard; all-wheel drive is optional.

Mitsubishi in recent years also introduced the Outlander as a plug-in hybrid. It’s rare in the industry and the carmaker gets credit for the effort. Like the Sport model, it has two seating rows because the battery utilizes the space otherwise pegged for a row of seating.

The Outlander exterior design and interior features define basic. What’s needed is there, but don’t expect much else. Frills are not part of the deal. Yet there’s something attractive about that equation: Simplicity is good, but don’t mistake Mitsubishi as slacking.

For 2020, it added a power lumbar adjustment to the driver’s seat in all trims. A second USB port has been added and the functionality for the heating, air conditioning and ventilation systems have improved with redesigned controls. Higher-end Outlander trims have a new 8-inch infotainment center.

Standard features include 18-inch alloy wheels, LED lights, heated mirrors, automatic climate control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a height-adjustable driver’s seat, 60/40-split folding rear seatbacks, Bluetooth, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality, satellite radio, voice controls, and heated front seats.

While the ride isn’t noisy, the Outlander has a rough ride and displays a noticeable lean while cornering. No road imperfections go unfelt. It’s not problematic around town, but don’t expect long family hauls with any level of comfort.

Fuel economy is rated at 23 miles per gallon in city driving, 28 mpg on the freeway. The manufacturer’s suggested retail price is $26,895, with the price as tested $28,920. The Outlander Sport debuted for the 2011 model year and was refreshed for 2016. Further changes have occurred every year since.

The 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander features an eloquent yet functional interior space. New for 2020, the Mitsubishi Outlander offers the addition of a new Special Edition (SP) trim slotting in between the LE and SEL trims; the SP also adds front, side and rear air dams, a black hood badge, black door handle covers and a Special Edition badge. 2020 Outlander