“Remember when SUVs were basically covered up pickup trucks, or ‘dressed up’ commercial vans with extra seats, windows and carpeting? Nowadays they’re everything but. Thankfully, there are still utilitarian offerings out there.”
The Mitsubishi That Puts the Utility Back in Sport Utility Vehicle
Mitsubishi has for many years been somewhat underrated, in fact, they’ve always kind of been that way. Personally, we’ve owned two Mitsubishi SUVs and we have nothing but praise for the tough little things. But, can the new generation of sport utility vehicles hold up like the old ones? Let’s find out!
2017 Mitsubishi Outlander SEL
Our first impression of the new Outlander is a positive one. As soon as you approach the vehicle, there’s an air of sportiness and functionality. Visually the dimensions are somewhat misleading, as the Outlander looks much shorter or “smaller) than it actually is. It’s not until one goes inside that discovers a third row, and ample space for the family, and then some.
The front end is quite handsome, and the charming look carries all around the vehicle. The same story repeats inside, where despite the somewhat flimsy plastics and buttons found across the dashboard, the look itself is quite refined. Something which we certainly didn’t expect.
Our SEL model was equipped with leather-wrapped interiors, as well as heated surfaces such as heated steering wheel and front seats. So far so good!
Putting the Utility in SUV
After getting acclimated to the Outlander, we felt like this truly was a good bang for the buck. Our first thought was the the Outlander didn’t feel the need to impress anybody—it just went on about its own business.
What do I mean? Like the Montero Sport and Endeavor I previously owned, the Outlander SEL was all about functionality, not about niceties (although this one had plenty of them). The driver and passenger seats felt solid, and the second row was surprisingly spacious. Much to our surprise, the entire second row was able to slide forward and backward on rails, providing for more leg room or more cargo room. Now that’s something you don’t see very often!
Pickup Truck Who?
During our test of the 2017 Mitsubishi Outlander we decided to make a trip to Ikea, which involved buying a dining room table, four chairs, a lamp, and other smaller items. It wasn’t until we physically got our hands on the boxes that we wondered whether they’d fit in the Outlander or not.
We were forced to unbox some of the items due to their dimensions, but we were shocked at how adjustable the back of the Outlander truly was. We were able to slide the second row as far forward as necessary, fold the seat-backs completely flat, and basically turn the Mitsubishi into a tiny covered pickup truck. Needless to say we were able to fit everything we purchased!
The one thing that stands out immediately upon driving the Outlander, is its simplicity. Now, some may take this as a negative, and others as a positive, but this Mitsubishi won’t make you think it’s a refined machine.
Step on the gas and you will feel everything. The steering wheel is rather basic and unassisted, meaning that it’s almost over-communicative. You will often find yourself over-correcting due to its quick reflexes. The suspension isn’t necessarily plush, but it’s very bouncy, meaning that anything over 80 mph feels somewhat unstable, especially if it’s anything other than a straight road.
Now, I’m not saying the Outlander is unsafe, but what I’m saying is that it doesn’t cover up as much as other SUVs do. Whether it’s less insulation, lightweight components, or something, it feels a bit too raw. It feels like the 2002 Montero Sport I previously owned.
When it comes to the kiddos, it truly shines in its ability to carry people easily and comfortably. The third row isn’t the most spacious, but it’s there to serve a “temporary “ purpose for last minute school buddies or family visiting town.
All-in-all the 2017 Mitsubishi Outlander SEL is a true utilitarian SUV. It’s what SUVs were before they turned into sports cars, luxury family haulers, and glorified minivans. The Outlander can get down and dirty and to the work others can’t. It can fit a ton of cargo, it can carry people, and equipped with all-wheel drive, it can tackle severe weather. Sure, the package as a whole feels a bit basic and somewhat outdated, but everything else seems to over come that.
2017 Mitsubishi Outlander SEL
- Starts at: $23,495
- Price as tested: $33,600