2009 Mitsubishi Outlander XLS photos

While the 2009 Mitsubishi Outlander's tech package is still at the head of its class, and it still gives great performance at a great price point, the rough ride and cheap interior hold it back from greatness.


Antuan Goodwin

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1 of 20 Corinne Schulze/CNET

Back for 2009

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?
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Look, but don't touch

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.
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Leather wrapped steering wheel

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.
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Information display

Between the blue backlit gauges is this monochrome display that shows fuel economy and trip computer information.
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Six-speed automatic transmission

The Outlander XLS' single-option, six-speed automatic transmission features a manual mode that firms up the shifts for a more sporty feel.
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Magnesium paddle shifters

Forward gears can be selected with either the center console mounted shifter or these magnesium paddle shifters, lifted directly from Mitsubishi's Lancer Evolution.
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3.0-liter MIVEC V-6

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.
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Heated leather seats

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.
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Keyless entry system

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.
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650-watts of Rockford Fosgate audio

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.
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Audio sources

Audio sources include a six-disc CD-changer with MP3 capability, Sirius satellite radio, and an auxiliary input.
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10 inches of thump

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.
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Discrete tweeters

Despite having a set of discrete tweeters, the audio system's highs and midranges sound muddied and are easily overpowered by the booming bass.
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Aux inputs

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.
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Mostly unchanged

Outside, the Outlander is mostly unchanged since we saw it as a 2007 model. A blacked out grille is the most obvious aesthetic change.
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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.
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Rearward visibility

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.
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Fold down tailgate

In addition to the liftgate, the Outlander features a separate, smaller fold-down tailgate to facilitate the loading of heavy goods.
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Pop-up third row seat

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.
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Tight fit

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.

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