Vehicle Overview
The compact Outlander sport utility vehicle joined Mitsubishi's lineup for 2003. The automaker installed a fully independent suspension in an attempt to give the entry-level Outlander a carlike ride.

For 2006, seat-mounted side-impact airbags for the front seats and antilock brakes are standard on all Outlanders. A new Special Edition trim is available, the XLS model has been dropped, and the Limited gains automatic climate control. All versions can have either front- or all-wheel drive.

The exterior of the four-door Outlander has a bold character. Fender flares and side air dams on the Limited and new SE have a monochromatic treatment. The Outlander's available roof rack can be adapted to carry bikes, surfboards and skis.

SE styling features include silver side rails, a distinctive grille treatment and bright 17-inch alloy wheels. Fog lamps are installed on SE and Limited models, and a sunroof is standard on the Limited. Riding on a 103.3-inch wheelbase, the Outlander stretches 179 inches long overall.

The Outlander can hold up to five occupants. Reclining 60/40-split rear seats fold flat into the floor. Cargo space totals 60.3 cubic feet with the rear seats folded.

Standard LS equipment includes air conditioning, a CD stereo, and power windows, locks and mirrors. Premium cloth seats, a leather-trimmed steering wheel and heated front seats are included in the SE model. Charcoal leather seating surfaces are standard in the Limited.

Under the Hood
The Outlander's 2.4-liter four-cylinder makes 160 horsepower and 162 pounds-feet of torque. The engine teams with either a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic with a manual-shift provision.

All-disc antilock brakes and side-impact airbags for the front seats are standard.

Driving Impressions
Moving to the smaller end of the SUV spectrum, Mitsubishi took the expertise derived from years of producing larger models and turned out a respectable, if essentially ordinary, compact SUV. Other than delivering a choppy ride on imperfect pavement and excessive engine blare on hard acceleration, the Outlander isn't a bad choice.

Steering feel is reasonably good. The seats are comfortable and have good support, but the head restraints impair rear and over-the-shoulder visibility.