The 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander’s story this year isn’t told here; a new plug-in hybrid is (finally) available in the U.S. It matches an inline-4 with a 12-kilowatt-hour battery and electric motors and is one of the few plug-in hybrid crossovers on the market. According to Mitsubishi, the Outlander PHEV can run for up to 22 miles on electrons alone.
For those without a plug, the Outlander is roughly identical to the outgoing model, which is to say, affordable, approachable, if not all that exciting.
It earns a surprisingly high 6.2 overall score on our scale thanks to its roominess and good safety scorecard. Performance and style aren’t what this crossover does best, value is. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
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The Outlander is among few compact crossovers with an available third row, although we don’t consider it (or any others) to be all that useful. The Outlander is available in ES, SE, SEL, and GT trim levels, with all-wheel drive available at every stop except GT, where it’s standard.
A 2.4-liter inline-4 that makes 166 horsepower is standard on all trim levels, but ultimately it feels overburdened by too much mass. An uprated V-6 is standard on the GT trim level, but its gain in power (224 hp) is offset by its thirst and its need for premium fuel too.
Regardless of engine, the Outlander uses a continuously variable transmission that’s geared more toward stoplight grand prix duty than highway passing. That may work in and around town, but it doesn’t inspire much confidence on highways and interstates.
This year, Mitsubishi has upgraded the base infotainment system to a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Bluetooth connectivity. Base Outlanders are further equipped a split-folding second and third row, dual-zone climate control, keyless ignition, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, USB port, a rearview camera, and a new 7.0-inch touchscreen with Bluetooth connectivity for infotainment.
Successive trims get better interior materials and upgraded leather upholstery, although the Outlander’s best value proposition is in base trim levels.
All-wheel drive complements an otherwise already competent crossover, though it still lacks some of the refinement—and fuel economy—of its contemporaries.