Back for 2009

Look, but don't touch

Leather wrapped steering wheel

Information display

Six-speed automatic transmission

Magnesium paddle shifters

3.0-liter MIVEC V-6

Heated leather seats

Keyless entry system

650-watts of Rockford Fosgate audio

Audio sources

10 inches of thump

Discrete tweeters

Aux inputs

Mostly unchanged

Handling

Rearward visibility

Fold down tailgate

Pop-up third row seat

Tight fit

The Mitsubishi Outlander returns for 2009 virtually unchanged since it won our Editors' Choice award in 2007. But how will the aging SUV compare with the new crop of competitors?
Caption by / Photo by Corinne Schulze/CNET
The Outlander's interior is handsome, but feels as if it was designed by Mitsubishi's accounting department. Cheap, hard plastics feel hollow to the touch, buzzing and rattling when the stereo is cranked.
Caption by / Photo by Corinne Schulze/CNET
The high-quality, leather-wrapped steering wheel almost feels out of place in front of the budget-built dashboard. Tucked between its spokes, you'll find buttons for the Bluetooth hands-free system, audio, and cruise controls.
Caption by / Photo by Corinne Schulze/CNET
Between the blue backlit gauges is this monochrome display that shows fuel economy and trip computer information.
Caption by / Photo by Corinne Schulze/CNET
The Outlander XLS' single-option, six-speed automatic transmission features a manual mode that firms up the shifts for a more sporty feel.
Caption by / Photo by Corinne Schulze/CNET
Forward gears can be selected with either the center console mounted shifter or these magnesium paddle shifters, lifted directly from Mitsubishi's Lancer Evolution.
Caption by / Photo by Corinne Schulze/CNET
Under the hood is Mitsubishi's 3-liter MIVEC V-6. Thanks to Mitsubishi's version of variable valve timing, this power plant is capable of generating a decent 213-horsepower and 204 pound-feet of torque, average 17 city and 25 highway mpg, and earn a ULEV emissions rating in California emissions trim.
Caption by / Photo by Corinne Schulze/CNET
Moving back into the cabin, we had a hard time finding the controls for the heated leather seats. Eventually, we found them tucked between the seat and the center console.
Caption by / Photo by Corinne Schulze/CNET
Our Outlander was equipped with Mitsubishi's FAST Key (Free-Hand Advanced Security Transmitter) which allows entry and ignition of the the vehicle while the key remains in your pocket.
Caption by / Photo by Corinne Schulze/CNET
Available as part of the Sun and Sound package, the 650-watt Rockford Fosgate audio system felt a bit overpowered for a vehicle with such flimsy interior panels.
Caption by / Photo by Corinne Schulze/CNET
Audio sources include a six-disc CD-changer with MP3 capability, Sirius satellite radio, and an auxiliary input.
Caption by / Photo by Corinne Schulze/CNET
Tucked in the rear, about kidney level with passengers in the third row seats, sits this 10-inch powered subwoofer that does its best to rip the door panels off, regardless of the chosen volume.
Caption by / Photo by Corinne Schulze/CNET
Despite having a set of discrete tweeters, the audio system's highs and midranges sound muddied and are easily overpowered by the booming bass.
Caption by / Photo by Corinne Schulze/CNET
Hidden at the bottom of the center console is this pair of RCA auxiliary inputs. Why Mitsubishi chose RCAs instead of the more common 1/8-inch minijack is beyond us.
Caption by / Photo by Corinne Schulze/CNET
Outside, the Outlander is mostly unchanged since we saw it as a 2007 model. A blacked out grille is the most obvious aesthetic change.
Caption by / Photo by Corinne Schulze/CNET
Mitsubishi has attempted to keep the Outlander flat in the turns by utilizing an aluminum roof to lower the center of gravity and a stiff suspension. The end result is an uncharacteristically rough ride for a small SUV.
Caption by / Photo by Corinne Schulze/CNET
Rearward visibility is good in the Outlander, thanks to generous windows and huge sideview mirrors. A backup camera option would increase visibility even further, but unfortunately one isn't available.
Caption by / Photo by Corinne Schulze/CNET
In addition to the liftgate, the Outlander features a separate, smaller fold-down tailgate to facilitate the loading of heavy goods.
Caption by / Photo by Corinne Schulze/CNET
From under the floor, owners can raise this third row seat. The process is a bit complex, but, with practice, can be executed in less than a minute.
Caption by / Photo by Corinne Schulze/CNET
We managed to fit a 5 foot 9 inch adult male into the third row seats without much effort. It wasn't comfortable and it wasn't pretty, but--for short trips--it's completely doable. We're glad the option is at least there.
Caption by / Photo by Corinne Schulze/CNET
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