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Mike West Road Test: 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander

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I don’t think I’ve driven a bad car since Pontiac and Saturn introduced the good looking but terribly executed Solstice and Sky. Both car companies are now history.

I was eager to drive the newly redesigned Mitsubishi Outlander. Would this be the breakthrough SUV from the Japanese manufacturer? Yes and no.  It is a big improvement over the previous generation, but considering the competition, it will be tough duty to stand out from the rest of the crowded pack. Is it better than the Jeep Grand Cherokee, or the Buick Enclave? How about the Hyundai Santa Fe or even the Dodge Durango?

Sorry Mitsubishi.

There isn’t anything wrong with this midsize SUV, but there isn’t anything that makes it special or cool either.

I drove the four-cylinder 166 horsepower version with a CVT transmission. The combo isn’t the greatest. The transmission is kind of noisy and the acceleration isn’t exactly inspiring. I hope the 224 horsepower V6 is a bit more engaging.

I was also disappointed with the electronics. When most people think of Mitsubishi they think of cars and gadgets, so it’s baffling that the navigation system and radio seem like they are about a generation behind the rest of the automakers. The navigation system is harder than it should be to program. And it takes about 5 minutes to pair a phone. Rather than doing it with a touch screen, a very nice female voice gives you a bunch of options. It’s a ponderous process.

Also, something strange happened when I went to the airport to pick up some friends. I tried using the dash button to open the auto rear hatch. I pushed and pushed. Held it down. Nothing. Then I tried the key fob. Again. Nothing. Then I tried to open it manually. No luck. When we got to their house, I tried it again and guess what? It worked! Ghosts in the Outlander.

The interior is OK. Fit and finish is decent, but the dashboard and all the fixings are pretty boring compared to just about every other car company.

My tester came with a third seat option. The only living thing I would relegate to that third seat is a dog. It’s way to cramped for a human no matter what age.

As far as the driving experience, I have to say it’s a pretty pleasant ride. Again nothing spectacular. Fuel economy is impressive coming in at 25 city and 31 highway. Prices start in the low 20’s and depending on options you can spend around 28 grand. Again pretty good.

For the money, the Outlander is a decent bargain. I would definitely spend the time taking one for a test drive.  There are no bad cars these days, but there are a lot of great ones, and that means Mitsubishi still has some work to do if they want to stand out from the rest of the pack.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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