We were hesitant to get excited when Mitsubishi said they were bringing a new Outlander to the 2015 New York Auto Show. Mitsubishi had yet to really impress us this year at any of the major automotive events, and we just couldn’t let ourselves get too invested after the “return of a legend” debacle earlier this year. However, now that we are here, the 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander that the underdog automaker showed off in New York is actually very well done.
The new Outlander is an extremely important model for Mitsubishi. They’ve reported a 20% increase in US sales growth the first quarter of 2015, and the new Outlander is how they plan to keep that snowball rolling. They’ve made over 100 changes to the model from 2015 to 2016, and it’s the first car to showcase a design language that will eventually extend across the entirety of Mitsubishi’s lineup.
So far, we like what we see.
There is no denying that the current Outlander that you’d find on dealership floors today is rather bland. Mitsubishi themselves admit it – the current version of the crossover was launched during trying times for the automaker, and they over-hyped the SUV during its 2013 launch. At the time, they simply didn’t have the budget to manufacture a truly excellent offering and so instead they promised a great car that in reality came nowhere near the competition.
Now, with 13 consecutive months of the year-over-year sales growth and a US dollar that’s worth 60% more Japanese yen than in 2012, Mitsubishi can afford to go all-out on their seven-seat crossover. And that’s exactly what they did.
First, the exterior styling is bold and aggressive. The black and chrome “Dynamic Shield” front grille is eye-catching, and plays perfectly into the SUV’s new, modern design. We love the new LED headlight array, as well as the new 18-inch alloys and re-sculpted rear bumper.
Inside, Mitsubishi has made the Outlander feel several times better than the outgoing model. Passengers will now enjoy soft, plush leather seats with a leather wrapped steering wheel, great-looking accents trim, rear folding seats, a new infotainment audio system and even an auto-dimming rearview mirror. On top of all that, you’ll enjoy a substantially quieter ride with new sound deadening materials incorporated throughout the cabin.
The 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander will keep the same 166 horsepower, 2.4L MIVEC four-cylinder engine from the 2015MY. However, the driving dynamics should be substantially better… Mitsubishi says they’ve completely overhauled the chassis and suspension with improved structural rigidity, a more responsive Electric Power Steering system and a totally new CVT. Sounds good to us!
All in all, the 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander looks like a definite step in the right direction for the slow-climbing automaker. If this is what we can expect from their renewed focus on crossover and SUV offerings, and we’re more than happy to keep an open mind. Pricing and a specific launch date are still TBA, but we expect to see this car in late Fall of this year.