First Drive: 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander Review

Proven Utility now with a Premium Feel, we hit the windy roads of British Columbia to review the all-new 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander

CONS:

  • Outgoing Outlander was beefy and nice – new 2014 front/rear facades not for everyone
  • The challenge rebranding Outlander as a premium SUV – will consumers get it?

2014 Mitsubishi Outlander ReviewSquamish, BC – Often, it’s best to rock at a few things then to really suck at pretty much everything else. And when you’re Mitsubishi – Canada’s smallest automaker – the former strategy likely makes the most sense. Focusing only on their key segments, Mitsubishi Canada continues to bet on their all-new 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander. With no evident slowdown in the popular SUV segment, coupled with an entirely new (and impressive) Outlander, it appears as though Mitsu is on the right track.

Right now, the ever-popular Lancer (sports), RVR (CUV), and Outlander (compact SUV) comprise Mitsubishi’s core product line. With their sales nearly 12-percent ahead of last year thus far, it appears this stick-to-what-you-know strategy is paying off. The company saw record sales for May 2013, delivering 2,172 total units – the third-straight month of 2,000+ units sold.

But numbers-shamumbers. Let’s talk about the all-new, completely redesigned 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander – an SUV that’s come a long way since it’s Canadian introduction back in 2003, equipped with only a V4 engine at the time. The second-generation Outlander burst through in 2007 with an optional (finally) V6 offering. Followed by the 2010 Outlander redesign, finding the S-AWC (Super All-Wheel Control) inherited from the badass EVO. Today, the fourth installment 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander is the most technologically advanced and fuel-efficient rendition yet, sporting a wider stance and a complete cabin redesign.

Exterior Design

Perhaps no other SUV has gone under the knife and seen as drastic cosmetic alterations with each redesign quite as often as the Outlander. Each rendition finds a completely new front end. While the new 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander finds a cleaner, more contemporary front grill styling reminiscent of the second-gen 2007 version, I’m partial to last year’s outgoing Outlander sporting a more bold and beefier, open-mouth style setup

Outlander Front-ends: Comparison form 2003 to 2014

2003:

2003 Mitsubishi Outlander

2007:

2007 Mitsubishi Outlander

2010:

2010 Mitsubishi Outlander

2014:

2014-mitsubishi-outlander-grill 

However, looks aren’t everything. The new Outlander’s new design renders huge advancements in aerodynamics and weight-reduction as well. High-tension steel plates help to reduce unnecessary weight while maintaining collision safety attributes. The brakes and suspension also lose weight while the 2nd and 3rd rows find a more optimized frame structure. Combined, all this shedding garners the most vital thing: increased fuel-economy…a 7-percent increase, to be exact. Not to mention, a reduction in CO2 emissions and a more stable drive at higher speeds.

Overall, in an SUV landscape where many of them are beginning to look the same, often sharing (copying?) common design cues, the 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander offers something a little different, by way of a more streamlined and almost futuristic appeal. And while this may or may not alienate current Outlander fans (a common theme in the post-redesign car market), it will certainly attract the new SUV-hungry consumer craving off-road utility that’s off the beaten path, so to speak.

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2014 Mitsubishi Outlander Trims

Available in four flavours, the new 2014 Outlander trims include:

  • ES 2WD – $25,998 CAD MSRP
  • ES AWC – $27,998
  • SE AWC – $30,998
  • GT S-AWC – $35,998

Under the hood

Both ES trims find the 2.4L SOHC MIVEC 4-cyclinder engine in a 4-door compact, 5-passeger guise, while the SE and GT versions are powered by a larger 3.0L SOHC MIVEC 6-cylinder accommodating 7-passengers.

Some of the notable standards with the entry-level ES 2WD include automatic climate control; heated front seats; Bluetooth; USB input; 16-inch alloy wheels; a CVT engine, and height-adjustable head restraints accommodating a variety of seating positions.

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What is S-AWC?

Mitsubishi may not be the most prominent player in the Canadian car game, but they’re certainly no slouch either, producing world-renowned recreational, off-road products born and bred in Japan. Check out this sweet Mitsubishi Delica we came across during our Outlander drive through Squamish, BC:

2014 Mitsubishi Outlander review delica

Transferring power not only to the rear wheels when the front wheels lose traction (and/or power to the front from the rear), the S-AWC also transfers power from side to side at the front. Whether conquering mountainous terrain or traversing random shopping carts at the local Wal-Mart parking lot, this Super All-Wheel Control system is one of the world’s most advanced AWD setups. And while this system is not new for 2014, it’s been significantly improved and is more advanced than ever.

Furthermore, and new for 2014, the S-AWC system now features four driver-selectable modes: Normal, for straight-up driving; Snow, for winter; Lock, tweaked for off-road driving; and Eco, providing the ultimate balance between efficiency and control.

The 4WD Eco is on 90% of the time. 4WD Auto will provide power to the rear wheels when slippage is detected.

The Power

A new 2.4L inline-4 engine equipped with the new Smart MIVEC valve train seeks to increase performance. This 2.4L engine is a SOHC that acts like a DOHC yet significantly improving fuel economy. For more power, opt for new and improved V6 3.0L MIVEC paired to a better exhaust system and high efficiency catalyst system.

Paddle shifters are standard with the 3.0L engine, paired to a 6-speed AT with a new final drive ratio for increased fuel savings. The 2.4L finds software designed to improve acceleration at higher revs while also optimizing fuel efficiency at lower rpms. Plus, there’s a new ratio management system in the 2.4L, improving shift feel and linear acceleration.

2014 Mitsubishi Outlander reviewInterior

The most significant, collective changes to the all-new 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander are in the cabin, now with higher-quality materials for a more upscale feel. This is a good move by the Mitsubishi, who really has nothing to prove in terms of proven utility and performance. But today’s SUV consumer is also looking for premium fit and finish with a good dose of luxury, and the Outlander is now offering that.

Rockford Fosgate audio makes its way into the cabin, including next-generation door speakers and a 10-inch, 710 watt subwoofer for a lighter, more robust sound quality (standards in the top GT S-AWC trim). An all-new 6.1-inch screen and display audio system with touch screen includes a back-up camera and Bluetooth. The system now also features two SD card slots with 32GB max capacity; 1 slot for maps, the other for music, storage, etc.

Navigation is also stepped up. Little things like directional arrows that pop up in the Multi Info Display when a destination is inputted, and overall just easier to view…better map visibility with smarter menu screen controls. Nuance voice commands allow driver to speak destinations rather than type. Always nice.

Learn more – Mitsubishi Outlander

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2014 Mitsubishi Outlander Gallery:

Shooting motors professionally since film was a thing, Amee's work has been published in various outlets including NBC Sports, Chicago Tribune, SuperStreet, GlobeDrive, MotorTrend, and others. He's a writer, editor at TractionLife.com, AJAC member, and full-time digital marketer at Traction Media working with national brands. Find him traveling, spending time with his kids and family. Or golfing, badly.