Test Drive: 2007 Mitsubishi Outlander LS AWD car test drives mitsubishi
2007 Mitsubishi Outlander. Click image to enlarge


Review and photos by Chris Chase

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Photo Gallery: 2007 Mitsubishi Outlander

I’ve always thought the compact Mitsubishi Outlander SUV had one of the coolest car names around. Not only is it a real word – a rarity enough in an industry that seems to thrive on made-up words and meaningless alphanumeric combinations – but it’s a word that implies that the product is different and can’t be neatly placed in a box with other similar vehicles.

However, if there is an implied difference, there was little to actually set Mitsu’s previous compact truck apart from others in its class. With middling power and rather bland styling, its main selling points were its low price and long warranty coverage – not exactly the stuff that lends itself to sexy marketing campaigns. Sales were stagnant for a while, and there were even doubts about the company’s future in North America.

Now however, it would appear that the company has a plan, and part of it is this all-new Outlander. Here’s a vehicle whose looks are a good fit with the badge on the tailgate: this thing actually does look like it comes from somewhere else. Maybe the fictional world of Star Wars: can’t you see Storm Troopers driving these things, painted white with black trim?

Test Drive: 2007 Mitsubishi Outlander LS AWD car test drives mitsubishi
2007 Mitsubishi Outlander. Click image to enlarge

Taken to an extreme, that could make for one ugly truckling, but not here. Mitsubishi’s managed to make the Outlander look both different and attractive – a tall order, for sure.

Of course, that’s meaningless if the car’s a dog to drive. Fortunately, Mitsu’s succeeded here too. On the road, the Outlander’s ride combines the best qualities of the Toyota RAV4′s ultra-firm suspension and the Hyundai Santa Fe’s cushy comportment. Like the Toyota, body motions are well-controlled, but suspension compliance over rough roads feels more like the Santa Fe.

Handling is a treat; the steering is noticeably quicker than in other SUVs I’ve driven recently, making the Outlander surprisingly responsive in spite of the rather tall 16-inch tires on my LS-trim tester (lower profile 18-inch wheels and tires come with the pricier XLS model). Body roll feels very well controlled too, a quality I’d chalk up to a low centre of gravity created by the low floor and seating position compared to many other SUVs. There’s no need to haul oneself up into the Outlander, with the seat cushion resting at about hip level relative to my 5-foot 7-inch frame.

Test Drive: 2007 Mitsubishi Outlander LS AWD car test drives mitsubishi
Test Drive: 2007 Mitsubishi Outlander LS AWD car test drives mitsubishi
2007 Mitsubishi Outlander. Click image to enlarge

My tester, as mentioned, was dressed up in LS all-wheel drive trim, carrying an MSRP of $26,998. It’s a pretty well-equipped base model, coming standard with air, power windows, locks and mirrors, plus standard safety stuff like ABS, side and side curtain airbags, stability control and a tire pressure monitoring system.

The fact that the new Outlander comes standard with V6 power is another appealing quality in a class where most base models get four-cylinders. Power isn’t class-leading, but I think that’s okay: the RAV4′s 269-horse V6 felt like overkill to me while many of the four-bangers in this class tend to feel breathless at highway speeds or with a full load of passengers aboard. In that sense, the Outlander’s 220 horsepower might be about perfect. It doesn’t make for startling acceleration, but it certainly should be enough for most drivers. While the horsepower number isn’t headline-grabbing, the six-speed automatic – the only transmission available – is rare in sub-$30,000 vehicles. Together, the 3.0-litre engine and six-speed work as a smooth team: the engine is happy to rev and the tranny works unobtrusively whether you’re tooling along in traffic or knee-deep into the throttle to get around a slow-moving semi.

Test Drive: 2007 Mitsubishi Outlander LS AWD car test drives mitsubishi
Test Drive: 2007 Mitsubishi Outlander LS AWD car test drives mitsubishi
2007 Mitsubishi Outlander. Click image to enlarge

The only option on my tester was the $1,250 Convenience Package, which added alloy wheels (base models get steelies with wheel covers); leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob; steering wheel-mounted audio controls; a cargo area cover; floor mats; a couple of 12-volt accessory outlets; colour-keyed outside mirrors and Bluetooth cellphone wiring. Add in the $1,345 freight charge and $100 to cover the feds’ air conditioning excise tax, and the bottom line swells to $29,843. That, to my mind, isn’t a bad deal for a nicely-equipped small SUV. If you can do without all-wheel drive or the niceties included in the convenience package (I could do without most of it, but the cargo area cover should be a standard feature), you could get an Outlander for just over $27,000 including freight.

Inside, the Outlander has a lot in common with the company’s other newest model, the 2008 Lancer. The radio and climate controls are basically a cut-and-paste job from that car, which is mostly a good thing. The radio’s volume and tuning knobs are a little small and would be tough to grasp with gloved hands, but everything else is just fine. Fit and finish looks and feels at least as good as it was in the RAV4 that spent three months with us last winter, and overall, I prefer the look and feel of the Mitsu’s interior. Like the RAV4, there’s a useful two-tier glove box, but there isn’t quite as much small-item storage in the cabin.

Test Drive: 2007 Mitsubishi Outlander LS AWD car test drives mitsubishi
Test Drive: 2007 Mitsubishi Outlander LS AWD car test drives mitsubishi
2007 Mitsubishi Outlander. Click image to enlarge

Certainly, there are no complaints about interior space. Headroom is great all around (credit that low floor and a high roofline, once again), as is legroom; rear seats with both fore-and-aft and seatback angle adjustments contribute here. Comfort is a strong point, though the centre position in the back wouldn’t be my first choice for anything longer than a cross-town jaunt. As is the trend these days, the Outlander is available with a seven-seat arrangement, but I wouldn’t bother. The extra two seats would be so tight as to be useless for all but those of hobbit-like proportions. The front seats are comfy enough that the lack of a lumbar adjustment didn’t bother me, but a telescopic steering column was conspicuous by its absence (it is height adjustable).

The Outlander’s low floor and tall roof make for a spacious cargo hold. A really neat feature is the two-piece tailgate: the top part opens upward as per the status quo, but there’s a lower section that folds down level with the cargo floor. The result is a nice, low liftover height. Rather than trying to find a way to get the second-row seats to fold flush into the floor, Mitsubishi went with a fold-and-tumble design.

Test Drive: 2007 Mitsubishi Outlander LS AWD car test drives mitsubishi
Test Drive: 2007 Mitsubishi Outlander LS AWD car test drives mitsubishi
2007 Mitsubishi Outlander. Click image to enlarge

While this takes away from the length of the cargo area, it takes best advantage of the car’s interior height.

Natural Resources Canada fuel consumption estimates for all-wheel drive Outlanders are 12.2 L/100 km in the city and 8.5 L/100 km on the highway; according to my tester’s on-board computer, my light right foot and I came close to that city estimate during my week of mostly urban driving. These computers have a tendency to be optimistic, however, so take that with a grain of salt.

Mitsubishi’s got a lot to prove, in light of their recent sales slump and strong competition in the small SUV/crossover segment, but this new Outlander is a big step in the right direction: it stands out enough to attract attention, and fits in just enough to hold onto it.


Pricing: 2007 Mitsubishi Outlander LS AWD

  • Base price: $26,998
  • Options: $1,250 (Convenience Package of 16-inch alloy wheels; black painted roof rails; rear privacy glass; Leather wrapped steering wheel with silver accent; Leather wrapped shift knob; Steering wheel audio remote control switches; Tonneau cargo cover; Floor mats; Steering wheel Bluetooth cellular phone “ready” pre-wire switch (requires dealer installation of microphone and Bluetooth cellular interface module); Colour-keyed folding power side view mirrors; 12-volt accessory outlets (x1 cockpit, x1 cargo); Driver seatback pocket
  • Freight: $1,345
  • A/C tax: $100
  • Price as tested: $29,843 Click here for options, dealer invoice prices and factory incentives


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