What the heck is an Outlander? As far as the word goes, it simply means foreigner, or stranger. Interesting choice for a vehicle name then.

As you may have seen, Mitsubishi has been crowing on TV and in other media about the 100+ enhancements that the new 2016 Outlander benefits from. They come in the form of exterior and interior styling, as well as refinements under the skin.

Mitsubishi set out to differentiate the new Outlander from the competition and visually they’ve succeeded. At the front anyway. For better or for worse, the front fascia’s styling won’t be confused with anything else out there. I actually don’t mind the distinctive but horribly named “Dynamic Shield” grille – you can’t miss it with its huge chrome and piano-black accents. The new LED headlight pods are accented with attractive LED-strip driving lights, which give the Outlander an interesting signature look as it’s coming your way.

Otherwise, the Outlander stays in the rather-bland lane, with just a few other exterior refinements such as all-new 18-inch wheels, the lower side cladding, a gently revised lower rear bumper and LED taillights.

I always appreciate a car manufacturer’s confidence in their styling, but emitted a genuine guffaw at Mitsubishi’s line: “The Outlander is so stunning it will turn heads so fast that onlookers may experience whiplash.” Riiiiiiight…

Once you get in, you’ll find a nice cabin. Nothing here jumps out as spectacular, but there’s absolutely nothing bad about it either. The materials are nice, though certainly not best-in-class – you’ll find plenty of soft-touch plastics, and little goodies like contrasting stitching on the seats and some new glossy trim. The interior styling is relatively clean although it felt somewhat chunky – a large expanse of dash stretches out ahead of you and a large boxy centre stack juts out of it.

The heated leather seats are comfortable, but not very well bolstered, and at this price, it bothered me that only the driver’s seat is power-adjustable. The new leather-wrapped steering wheel feels fantastic, and sits in front of a standard set of gauges and a nice full-colour driver information screen. A 7-inch touchscreen handles your stereo (a bass-heavy, 710-watt(!) Rockford Fosgate system with a 10-inch subwoofer), as well as your phone and navigation functions – the navigation graphics felt a bit dated but overall, I felt that the whole system works pretty well.

There’s a dual-zone automatic climate control system and a standard size sunroof overhead, and little touches like a HomeLink universal garage door opener and power-folding mirrors are nice.

Also a plug-in electric: Quick Spin: 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (Euro-spec)

Mitsubishi tucks in some driver-assistance technology as well: lane departure warning, active forward collision mitigation and an excellent adaptive cruise control system.

The Outlander’s second row is quite spacious, and I found the head and legroom to be plentiful (for me at 5’10”). The seats are adjustable via reclining and sliding fore and aft, and they also split 60/40 when you fold them. Mitsubishi mentioned that the folding action for the second-row seats has been redesigned for easier operation. That may be, but it’s still a three-step process. You have to deal with the headrests, then flip the seat cushion up and finally fold down the seat back. It might be improved, but it’s still a drag.

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