A crossover holds out such promise, doesn't it? After all, it's supposed to be not just a glorified shopping cart but also a family adventure vehicle. Or at least that's what we say to ourselves when we go to the garage late at night and look at it in the dark amidst the soccer shoes, bicycles, lawn tools, and dog kibble.
So it was with eagerness and a sense of optimism that we walked into the chill desert morning in Bend, Oregon, and discovered a 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander waiting for us. The sun had just come over the horizon, lighting the snow-covered peak of Mt. Hood, and we could picture ourselves dropping a fishing line into the water in Crooked River Gorge.
Big and bland
Then we saw the 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander and felt like we were back in the garage. As it's been explained to us, the Outlander has followed the life stages of the people at Mitsubishi, who, it seems, have moved on from mountain bikes to home ownership. Apparently they like things smooth and not too complicated, because big and bland is the style message. At least the new bodywork has a slippery 0.33 Cd, which improves fuel efficiency.
The 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine featured in Outlander ES and GS models is also about fuel efficiency. It is rated at an unimpressive 166 hp at 6000 rpm and 162 lb-ft of torque at 4200 rpm, but with the help of a continuously variable transmission and a chassis that's 220 pounds lighter than before, it delivers a very impressive 25/31/27 mpg (city/highway/combined).
Lancer With a Lift Kit
Beneath the new bodywork is a refined version of the previous Outlander's chassis with a 105.1-inch wheelbase. The model range is equally familiar and includes the front-wheel-drive ES-FWD and SE-FWD models as well as the all-wheel-drive SE S-AWD and GT S-AWD.
Our favorite Outlander continues to be the GT S-AWD. It's not just the responsive combination of the 224-hp 3.0-liter V-6 and six-speed automatic transmission, it's also the way this powertrain works with the four-mode Lancer Evo-style all-wheel-drive system, which varies power delivery not only front and rear but also side to side.
The 2014 Outlander GT S-AWC will walk right up a slippery, scree-choked grade so simply that even a novice can drive to an isolated fishing spot. That's important, because family values aren't always enough when you're out there in the garage with the dog kibble and wondering what the weekend will bring.
2014 Mitsubishi Outlander
Base price: $23,830/$28,630 (ES/GS, including destination charges)
Engines: 2.4-liter SOHC 16-valve I-4, 166 hp, 162 lb-ft
3.0-liter SOHC 24-valve V-6, 224 hp, 214 lb-ft
Transmissions: continuously variable, six-speed automatic
Drive: Front- or all-wheel
L x W x H: 183.3 x 70.9 x 66.1 in
Legroom F/M/R: 40.9/37.3/28.2 in
Headroom F/M/R (without sunroof): 40.6/38.4/35.7 in
Cargo capacity (behind third/middle/front seats): 10.3/34.2/63.3 cu ft
Curb weight: 3274/3571 lb (ES FWD/GT S-AWD)
EPA rating (city/highway): 25/31 mpg (2.4L FWD); 24/29 mpg (2.4L AWD); 20/28 mpg (3.0L AWD)