The 2008 Mitsubishi Outlander is sharp-looking from the outside, and it was packed with fun features on the inside. The Outlander had many fun and funky features such as stowable third-row seats, keyless ignition and Sportronic paddle shifters, which convinced me it was designed for a younger crowd. You know, the same people who are on the verge of beginning their married and familial lives but are clutching to their coolness for all it's worth. Ahhh, I remember those days. I think the Outlander would work for them, but it wasn't a good fit for my family, especially my kids.
The Outlander I test drove had a V-6 engine, and it was fun to drive when paired with the paddle shifters. It should be noted that my fellow mom-reviewers have tested Outlanders with four-cylinder and V-6 engines; they say that the four-cylinder model is so underpowered it didn't feel safe to drive. Mark that one off your list.
The Outlander stands out when compared to most crossovers, but I wonder how long it'll be before it looks dated. It might seem cool now, but I bet that in as few as two to three years it'll look old and out of style. The fizzy-looking bubbles in the taillights do grab your attention, but in time they could leave you with that questioning raised-eyebrow look and feelings of regret.
The Outlander has two- and four-wheel-drive options available on the drive-mode selector knob that allows you to easily jump into some offroad mud-bogging fun. Yeehaw!
Getting my kids in and out of the Outlander was a challenging and dirty task. Carmakers, listen up: Parents get a full-blown case of the warm fuzzies when they hear the following phrase: fully integrated rocker panels. Mmmm, we love those. Please find a way for all of us to get in and out of a car without getting covered in mud and grime.
The Outlander's seats were pretty high off the ground, and getting the kids into them meant fighting with the doors, which didn't open wide enough, and lifting them into the car and then up into their booster seats. My kids are 6 and 3; they'd prefer to get into the car by themselves instead of having Mommy fussing over them and messing up their whole day (drama!).
With its glass hatch and tailgate, the Outlander has awesome tailgating possibilities for those who consider taking in a game a 24-hour event. The tailgate didn't work as well when loading groceries into the cargo area, a process that also involved a lot of dirt. If you only open the glass hatch, you end up leaning against the car to put stuff into the cargo area. This meant the front of my coat got dirty. So open the lower portion of the tailgate and stop whining, right? OK, but then your hands are getting dirty from messing with the tailgate. I don't see a winning scenario here.
SENSE AND STYLE Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Fair
Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On): Good Times
I seem to have started a dirt-related theme with this review, so I might as well stick with it. The black-colored interior showed every bit of dirt. I had the Outlander for seven days; by the end of the first day, I was ready to reach for a whisk broom and Shop-Vac. The interior was a little dark for my taste; I don't like that cave-like effect when I'm driving. While it did have leather seats, which are easier to clean than cloth, I'd pick a lighter color, something in the dried-mud color family.
OK, off with the rubber gloves. There were several interior features I liked in the Mitsubishi Outlander. I always enjoy the choice of automatic, manual or sportshift paddles in any car. I tried out the manual and paddle-shift options, and I'm pleased to report both upped the Outlander's fun factor.
The Outlander gave me plenty of places to stow my things, including two glove compartments - yay! The cupholder area was a perfect fit for my purse, which worked well because the Outlander had a pop-out cupholder for my coffee to the left of the steering wheel.
The comfortableness of the Outlander's seats was questionable. As the driver, I was plenty comfy. When my husband sat in the passenger seat, I couldn't help but notice that his knees seemed super high - almost to the height of his chest. When I asked why he'd taken on such an awkward form, he explained that the seat was hurting his legs. Instead of resting his thighs on the seat, he needed to elevate them. Have I ever mentioned that my better half is a bit odd at times?
For a moment I considered letting my kids ride in the third row to enhance the novelty of their ride. I folded the second-row seats forward (they didn't fold into the floor) and crawled back to get things situated. When I popped the third-row seats up, I realized there was hardly enough room back there for their skinny little legs. How would an adult fit back there? Next I pulled up the third-row head restraints - they were huge and reminded me of tennis rackets. With both head restraints up, my view out the rear window was completely obscured. In my opinion, the Outlander's designers threw in the third row on the XLS trim level because it looked good on paper, but someone failed to test the actual usability of the feature.
My kids never got to ride in the third row, but I'm not sure it would have warmed them to the car. They had no love for the Outlander because getting in and out was difficult and the seat belt buckles were impossible for them to secure on their own. It took us a lot longer than usual to get settled in and ready for lift-off in the Outlander.
IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Galore
Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Galore
Advanced dual front airbags, front-seat-mounted side airbags and side curtain airbags are all standard on the Outlander, although the side curtain airbags only extend to the second row. Antilock brakes and stability control were also on its safety features' list.
I felt safe driving the Outlander. The pseudo-sporty handling made me feel more in control of the crossover. The third row's huge head restraints were constant reminders in my rearview mirror of Mitsubishi's attention to safety, although they didn't help in the visibility department.
FAMILY LIFESTAGE In Diapers: Adjustable legroom in the second row makes more space for rear-facing child-safety seats.
In School: The seat belts were difficult for the little ones to buckle, and the stowable third-row seats offer minimal legroom at best.
Teens: Teens will think this car looks cool. They'll also like the huge speakers (optional) in the cargo area. Groovy!