2007 Mitsubishi Outlander

Mitsubishi Motors has rolled out the all-new 2007 Outlander to compete in the burgeoning field of car-like CUVs available in the marketplace.

The 2007 Outlander has been stretched to be 90 mm longer and 50 mm wider than the outgoing model. Designers have made the most of the increased external dimensions by making available an optional flat-folding third row of seats. However, most will realize that in a compact CUV, this seating is best utilized by kids or for emergency use.

2007 Mitsubihi Outlander SUV

The 4-cylinder engine used on the 2006 model has been replaced by an all-aluminum 3.0L MIVEC 24 valve SOHC V6 engine, producing 220 hp and 204 lb-ft of torque. A new 6-speed automatic transmission transfers power to the wheels in either two-wheel or four-wheel drive layouts.

Styling certainly sets the Outlander apart from most in the field. The strong angular front-end treatment includes triangular cut headlights and the edgy rear LED style taillights give the Outlander a contemporary and aggressive look. The marketing folks at Mitsubishi are eager to point out that they are focusing on a younger more expressive customer than most other manufacturers.

The handsome sheet metal sits atop the brand new GS platform, shared with the 2007 Lancer. Lower frame braces and a strut tower bar have helped to stiffen the platform which now boasts an increase of 39 percent in flexing rigidity over the previous model. The use of an aluminum roof panel not only assists in this department but also reduces the vehicle’s curb weight and lowers its centre of gravity, which should result in improved handling with less body roll.

Clearly leaning towards its target market, Outlander is available with a Rockford Fosgate six-disc CD audio system with a 650-watt output through nine speakers including a ten-inch cargo mounted subwoofer. An auxiliary input jack is provided for an iPod or satellite radio input.

Technophiles will be drawn to the optional Bluetooth connectivity, keyless proximity entry and ignition, a rear-seat DVD system with a nine-inch wide-screen panel and a dash-mounted NAV system that includes a 30-Gig hard drive that automatically copies any CDs played (I’m sure record companies will love this feature). The top-of-the-line XLS model starting at $32,998 includes most of the above listed options as well as steering-mounted paddle shifters which control a 6-speed auto gearbox, leather interior, 18-inch alloy wheels, glass sunroof and a manually-selectable 4WD system. The base LS model is available in either 2WD or 4WD.

The driver’s cockpit of our XLS test vehicle was more car-like than most CUVs and to be more specific, sports car-like. The seats had fantastic lateral support and the paddle shifters added that hint of racing heritage that Mitsubishi is so cleverly referencing in their television advertisements.

On a recent test drive, our route had us driving over broken asphalt sections and unpaved dirt roads. The Outlander was as linear and unfettered over freshly turned dirt side roads as it was on any paved Provincial highway. The focus on building a rigid platform and suspension tuning has yielded huge gains in on-road refinement, with a sporty ride that never felt harsh or jarring.

With decent low-end torque, acceleration off the line felt brisk. The steering-mounted paddle shifters do not require the console shifter to be moved into a manual or sport mode prior to being utilized, which adds to the sense of spirited driving.

A check of safety equipment shows the Outlander comes with dual front airbags, two front seat side thorax-level airbags and dual side curtain airbags for the first two rows of passengers. Anti-lock brakes are standard on all models as well as active head restraints, front seatbelt pre-tensioners and active skid control.

Cargo flexibility abounds in the new design as the 60/40 split middle row of seats will fold down and tumble forward to maximize the rear storage area. The rear tailgate design allows the glass to fold up while the metal gate opens down, allowing easier access to the rear storage area. A novel addition is the inner liner of the lower tailgate, which extends to cover the hinged area and create a flat floor for ease in loading the vehicle. As it supports 200 kgs of weight when folded open, I now have a place to sit with a friend at the next tailgate party!

Prior to the racing-inspired ad campaign now being used, Mitsubishi seemed to rely solely on its decade-long warranty as its main selling point. In light of newly updated and modern products like the Outlander and Lancer hitting showrooms, the longest warranty in the marketplace now becomes the icing on the cake.