G. Chambers Williams

Mitsubishi’s Outlander GT has room for the family, V-6, and all-wheel drive

The Mitsubishi Outlander, a crossover with three rows of seating and room for up to seven people, arrived just two years ago in its newest generation, and it continues for 2018 as the automaker’s most-popular U.S. product.

Prices for 2018 start at $23,945 (plus $995 freight) for the entry-level ES front-wheel-drive model. Other front-drive models include the SE ($24,945), LE, or Limited Edition, a new trim level for 2018 ($26,145), and the SEL ($26,145).

The Outlander also is available with all-wheel drive, starting at $25,445 for the ES version, followed by the SE ($26,945); LE ($28,145); SEL ($28,145); and the GT ($32,245), our test vehicle.

GT models come only with a V-6 engine and all-wheel drive, while the other models have an inline four-cylinder engine and the choice of front- or all-wheel drive.

New features for 2018 include some exterior and interior updates, including a new seven-inch touch-screen display audio system with Bluetooth wireless technology phone/audio standard on the base ES model, along with silver interior stitching.

SEL models now have standard Blind Spot Warning with Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Lane Change Assist, as well as a power remote tailgate.

The SEL Premium Package ($2,000) now includes LED headlights and fog lights, multi-view camera system and a heated steering wheel, along with a power glass sunroof and 710-watt Rockford Fosgate premium audio system with nine speakers.

Our GT model now has the multi-view camera system and a heated steering wheel as standard features.

The GT Touring Package ($1,000), included on our tester, brings Forward Collision Mitigation, Lane Departure Warning, Adaptive Cruise Control and Automatic High Beams.

There is also an SEL Touring Package ($3,000), which includes the items from the GT Touring Package, along with the contents of the SEL Premium Package.

One new exterior color is offered, Alloy Silver. Other available exterior colors include Quartz Brown, Cosmic Blue, Labrador Black, Cool Silver, Mercury Gray, Rally Red Metallic and Diamond White. Our tester was the Rally Red Metallic color with a beige interior.

Added last year were a standard shark fin antenna, a new gloss-black center floor console, a 12-volt power outlet in the cargo area, new front courtesy floor lamps, knit fabric sun visors and a washer fluid low-level warning light. Our GT had a single USB port, but it was inconveniently located in the rear of the center console box.

An entry-level All-Wheel Control four-wheel drive system is offered on all but the GT, and a Smartphone Link Display Audio system with enhanced satellite radio, along with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, are standard on lower trim levels.

Newly available high-tech safety features also include the Forward Collision Mitigation System with Pedestrian Detection and a wiper de-icer system (standard on all 4WD models). An electric parking brake, with a console-mounted switch, was included on our GT model.

With the recent exterior redesign, Mitsubishi made the Outlander curvier and less boxy, utilizing the company’s new “dynamic design language,” with more than 100 engineering and design improvements.

Also refreshed two years ago was the Outlander Sport model, which is 14 inches shorter and has a capacity of just five passengers. It’s on a modified chassis of the larger model known as just the Outlander.

On our Outlander GT, which included the third-row seat, there is room for two up front, three in the second row, and two in the rear.

ES, SE, LE and SEL models all come with a 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder engine rated at 166 horsepower and 162 foot-pounds of torque, coupled with a continuously variable automatic transmission. EPA fuel-economy ratings are 25 mpg city/30 highway/27 combined with front-wheel drive, and 24/29/26 with all-wheel drive.

GT models get the 3.0-liter V-6 engine, rated at 224 horsepower and 215 foot-pounds of torque. It’s paired with a six-speed Sportronic automatic transmission with paddle shifters for manual operation. EPA ratings are 20 city/27 highway/23 combined; we averaged 23.5 mpg with about two-thirds highway driving.

The extra power provided by the V-6 engine makes it more fun to drive than the four-cylinder. We loaded our vehicle with six people and took some not-too-steep mountain roads, and the Outlander handled the task easily.

The Outlander is designed for easy loading and unloading of gear in the rear cargo area, which has 34.2 cubic feet of space when the third seat is not in place. With the third seat present, cargo space is cut to just 10.3 cubic feet.

The third seat is best left to kids – we put two teens back there -- but should be left to ones who are big enough to get into and out of the third row by themselves.

In the middle row, the bench seat has a 60/40 split-folding feature that allows for further expansion of the cargo area. With the middle and third seats folded, cargo space increases to 63.3 cubic feet.

Among standard features included even at the Outlander starting price are LED positioning lights, 18-inch alloy wheels, and LED taillights. Inside, the improvements two years ago included a new steering wheel, improved second-row seating, new accent trim, seating surfaces and headliner, and other amenities.

Standard features on our GT included the third-row seat, leather upholstery, eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, four-way manually adjustable front passenger seat, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather-wrapped shifter and steering wheel, tilt/telescopic steering column, the 710-watt Rockford-Fosgate premium audio system with nine speakers, power tailgate with remote control, remote keyless entry with pushbutton start, self-dimming rearview mirror with universal garage/gate opener, and more.

The GT comes with the uplevel all-wheel-drive system called S-AWC, which stands for Super-All Wheel Control. It’s as much about helping the vehicle to steer precisely through tight turns as it is about giving it better traction on slippery roads. It normally sends power to the front wheels, but shifts needed torque to the rear when wheel slippage is detected.

This system is designed to enhance handling on all road surfaces, wet or dry. But it does not include low-range gearing for extreme off-road use. Also included was hill-start assist, which holds the car on a hill for a couple of seconds after the driver’s foot comes off the brake pedal.

S-AWC has an active front differential as well as an electronic center differential, which work together to keep the vehicle moving. There are “Tarmac,” “Snow” and “Lock” modes that can be selected by the driver.

Outlander’s exterior design includes a concept Mitsubishi calls “Dynamic Shield,” which is the company says was inherited from the bumper side protection seen on generations of the Montero SUV.

Among other changes for 2016 were increased body and suspension rigidity, improved electric power steering, a noise-isolating windshield and rear door glass, more sound insulation throughout the vehicle, a new dynamic front suspension and rear differential dampers, and improved weather stripping and engine-compartment trim on all models.

Helping to protect passengers is Mitsubishi’s Reinforced Impact Safety Evolution patented safety body construction. Included are energy-absorbing crumple zones and strategically placed reinforcements, a collapsible steering column, a foldaway brake-pedal assembly, and side-impact door beams.

Every Outlander comes with seven air bags, including front seat-mounted side-impact bags, and roof-mounted side-curtain side bags with rollover sensors.

Other standard safety features include four-wheel antilock brakes with Electronic Brake-force Distribution and Brake Assist; Active Stability Control with Traction Control Logic; and a Tire Pressure Monitoring System.

The only extra on our test vehicle besides the Touring Package was the carpeted floor mats ($125). Total sticker price was $34,365, including freight and options.

The automotive columns of G. Chambers Williams III have appeared regularly in the Star-Telegram since 1994. Contact him at chambers@star-telegram.com or on Twitter @gchambers3.

2018 Mitsubishi Outlander

The package: Compact, four-door, five- or seven-passenger, four-cylinder or V-6 powered, front- or all-wheel-drive crossover utility vehicle.

Highlights: Mitsubishi’s compact seven-passenger SUV was updated for 2016. The Outlander is longer than the five-passenger-only Outlander Sport, and is one of only a few compact crossovers to offer a third row of seats.

Negatives: Third-row seat is a tight fit for adults.

Engine: 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder; 3.0-liter V-6.

Transmission: Continuously variable automatic (I-4); six-speed automatic (V-6).

Power/torque: 166 HP./162 foot-pounds (I-4); 224 HP./215 foot-pounds (V-6).

Length: 184.8 inches.

Curb weight: 3,318-3,593 pounds.

Brakes, front/rear: Disc/disc, antilock.

Cargo volume: 34.2 cubic feet (third seat folded); 10.3 cubic feet (behind third seat).

Towing capacity: 1,500 (I-4); 3,500 pounds (V-6).

Electronic stability control: Standard.

Side air bags: Front seat-mounted bags and side-curtain bags for first and second rows are standard.

Fuel capacity/type: 16.6 gallons (2WD); 15.8 gallons (AWD)/unleaded regular.

EPA fuel economy: 25 mpg city 30 highway//27 combined (I-4, 2WD); 24/29/26 (I-4, AWD); 20/27/23 (V-6, AWD).

Major competitors: Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, Ford Escape, Nissan Rogue, Mazda CX-5, Jeep Cherokee, Chevrolet Equinox, GMC Terrain, Subaru Outback, Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sportage.

Base price range: $23,945-$32,245, plus $995 freight.

Price as tested: $34,365, including freight and options (GT 3.0 S-AWC with Touring Package).

On the Road rating: 8.7 (of a possible 10).

Prices shown are manufacturer’s suggested retail; actual sales price may vary.