2018 Mitsubishi Outlander SEL: Budget Three-Row SUV

The trend in the marketplace for 3-row sport utility vehicles is to keep adding more and more features, more advanced powertrains and tons of technology. What Mitsubishi has done is take all of that away, and give you all the rows with none of the frills. While some might miss all the luxury and technology, others will appreciate the price point of this truck.

While you can order the SEL trim with lane-departure warning, emergency braking and adaptive cruise, our test vehicle had the less-expensive ‘Premium’ package. It still gives you the 710-watt Rockford Fosgate stereo, but leaves off the safety features. The $30k price tag is a bargain in its class. Unfortunately, there are some compromises, starting with the engine, which just doesn’t have enough power for this big of a vehicle. The AWD drags down the acceleration too, leaving it pretty anemic in a straight line. The top-of-the-range GT version has a 3.0-Liter V6, so if you need some power, go with that version.

You do at least get Apple Car Play and Android Auto, so there’s plenty of connectivity with your favorite device. There is a limited amount of power ports and chargers, and one of the charge ports didn’t work on our test car, so that was a bit disappointing. As prevalent as handheld devices are in our lives these days, we need ample charging to keep them going while we’re on the go.

There are some other items that aren’t as convenient as well – like the placement of some of the controls and switches. There could have been more thought put into their positioning to enhance usability.

The interior finishes are hit-and-miss as well, as you might expect for the price point. That said, it’s not the worst we’ve seen. There are some decent materials sprinkled in, but the overall feeling is lacking. For buyers looking more at the bottom line, this will be easy to overlook. The exterior of the Outlander is handsome from some angles, but awkward from others.

Getting back to the performance, 166hp is just not enough these days. In the age where turbochargers and hybrid drivetrains are becoming ubiquitous, a normally-aspirated 2.4-liter 4-cylinder just doesn’t make the cut. Coupled to a CVT transmission, there’s just nothing to get excited about. The top-of-the-line 3.0-Liter V6 only claims an underwhelming 224hp, coupled with a 6-speed automatic gearbox, but that’s sure to be more in line with this size of vehicle. Hopefully, Mitsubishi is working on a more modern drivetrain. Mileage is listed at 24-city and 29-highway, although we saw a little bit less than that in real-world testing.

Overall, you’re still getting a lot for your money, especially when you consider the cost of most three-row SUV’s. There are very few others that you can get even in the $30k range, let alone $20k range like the Outlander. The front-wheel drive base ES starts off at a bargain $24k, and the lack of AWD would help the engine feel a little more up to the task. For bargain hunters, this is one to watch.

While you can get lots more from other large SUV’s, you’re not going to get one for less than the Mitsubishi. And you get a company with a long history of reliability and a good safety record. For people looking for value, what more can you ask for?

Special thanks to Mitsubishi Motors for providing the 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander for review.