By default, the king of Mitsubishi’s hill.
My, how times change. Once, Mitsubishi’s U.S. portfolio was hinged on SUVs; today, the Outlander is the company’s only remaining sport-utility. It might share its architecture with the Outlander Sport, but there’s no mistaking the two when placed side by side. The Outlander is a larger, more mature, and arguably more-family-friendly offering. A 2.4-liter four-cylinder powers the base ES and midlevel SE trims — the latter available with front- or all-wheel drive. Mated with a continuously variable transmission, the four-cylinder can deliver up to 28 mpg on the highway in front-wheel-drive form, but with nearly 3400 pounds of mass to move, acceleration suffers somewhat. We’d recommend stepping up to the GT, which is the only Outlander that offers six-cylinder power. A 3.0-liter V-6 provides an adequate 230 hp and is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Interestingly, opting for all-wheel drive on a GT model ushers in Mitsubishi’s S-AWC driveline. Also found in the Lancer Evolution, this system can vector torque between the rear wheels, improving traction and cornering. We’d love to see a little more sophistication in terms of interior packaging and design, and perhaps that will happen sooner rather than later. Mitsubishi has said that an all-new Outlander will join its lineup later in 2013 as a 2014 model.
Hyundai Santa Fe
new for 2013
Nothing changes now, but an all-new 2014 Outlander model is expected to debut by the end of 2013.
Front, side, and side curtain air bags for the first and second rows; ABS; traction and stability control; a security alarm; and tire-pressure monitoring are standard.
Seating for up to seven
Cramped third row
Middling interior quality
Base price range: $23,520–$29,420
DRIVE: Front-wheel, 4-wheel
TRIM LEVELS: ES, SE, GT
BODY STYLE: SUV/crossover, 5- or 7-passenger
ENGINES: 2.4L I-4, 168 hp, 167 lb-ft
3.0L V-6, 230 hp, 215 lb-ft
TRANSMISSIONS: 6-speed automatic, continuously variable
PASSENGER VOLUME: 100.4 cu ft
CARGO SPACE: (behind third/middle/front seats) 14.9/36.2/72.6 cu ft