Talk about Mitsubishi to most car nuts these days, and the automaker will get some free advice about how it should bring back the 3000GT, Eclipse or Lancer Evolution. The reality of today’s car market, though, is that buyers are snatching up far more compact crossovers than ever. And Mitsubishi is laser focused on this segment, which helped increase 2017 sales by 7.7 percent overall making this automaker the fastest-growing non-luxury brand in the U.S.
While we might see a performance rebirth down the road, the current Mitsubishi lineup consists of two versions of the subcompact Mirage and three compact crossovers – the Outlander Sport, the all-new Eclipse Cross and the Outlander. Our last test drive review of the current Outlander came in 2016, but that was with a four-cylinder SEL trim level. This time around, we get a crack at the fully loaded, V-6-powered 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander GT.
2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Exterior
Not much has changed with the Outlander since a 2016 facelift, and that’s good news for the 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander. The compact crossover segment as a whole has gotten much better in recent years in terms of design, but the Outlander is one of the most stylish with its chrome-trimmed, bullet-shaped nose and its clean yet purposeful body lines. To maximize interior space, the profile of the Outlander is as straightforward as a crossover or SUV can get with a long, flat roofline and fairly upright D-pillars.
Along with the added bonus of the bigger engine, the GT trim level also adds on a host of upscale features such as full LED exterior lighting (including headlights, fog lights and taillights), power-folding door mirrors and stylish two-tone 18-inch alloy wheels with an Atari-inspired spoke design. The Outlander GT is finished with a tasteful amount of chrome and matte plastic, and this tester came in an attention-grabbing Rally Red Metallic paint job.
2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Interior
The biggest thing the 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander has going for it is its interior size that allows for a standard three-row, seven-passenger seating configuration. While the rearmost seats are indeed small, they come in extremely handy with smaller kids still in car seats or booster seats. Despite riding on a wheelbase far shorter than the Volkswagen Tiguan, the Outlander GT’s third row offers more headroom and legroom. Although most adults probably wouldn’t enjoy a long trip in the “way back,” the rest of the seating areas are equally spacious, and the second row can tilt and slide for even more comfort. There’s even plenty of room for cargo with 10.3 cubic feet available with all three rows in place, 34.2 cubic feet with the third row folded flat and 63.3 cubic feet with both rear rows out of the way.
New for 2018, the Outlander GT adds a standard multi-view camera system and a heated steering wheel, which adds to the GT’s lengthy list of standard features including leather seats, leather-wrapped door armrests, power liftgate and a nine-speaker, 710-watt Rockford-Fosgate audio system. Surprisingly, even though this is the top trim level, the 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander does not offer a built-in navigation system, but this upgraded infotainment system (standard on everything but the base ES trim) comes standard with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Powertrain
Most 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander trim levels are equipped with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder rated at 166 horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque, but the GT gets the bigger 3.0-liter V-6 bringing 224 horsepower and 215 lb-ft of torque to the party. While all other Outlander models come standard with front-wheel drive, the GT is only available with Mitsubishi’s Super All-Wheel Control (S-AWC) all-wheel drive system. This combination gives the 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander EPA-rated fuel economy estimates of 20 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway**.
The best part of the GT, though, is that this trim levels ditches the CVT of the four-cylinder model, and replaces it with a Sportronic six-speed automatic transmission that has steering wheel paddle shifters. Grabbing those massive, metal shift paddles is fun, but don’t expect the Outlander GT to feel like a Lancer Evo experience. The transmission and peppier engine result in a driving dynamic that might be a tad sportier than your typical family-sized CUV, but the steering, brakes and suspension have the same feel that you’re going to get from anything else in this class. The one area where Mitsubishi really needs to improve is cabin NVH as road noise and engine noise constantly meant cranking the stereo up a few more notches.
2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Safety
The 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander shows that you don’t have to skimp on safety to get an affordable family-sized crossover. The Outlander received a five star crash rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and a Top Safety Pick rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. That’s thanks to all trim levels having seven standard airbags including a driver’s knee airbag, but the GT steps things up with standard Blind Spot Warning with Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Lane Change Assist. Want even more safety tech? Just opt for the $1,000 GT Touring Package, which adds Forward Collision Mitigation, Lane Departure Warning, Adaptive Cruise Control and Automatic High Beam.
2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Overall
Mitsubishi may have faded from fan boy glory, but the automaker’s focus on style- and value-driven crossovers has this brand poised for a comeback. The 2018 Outlander is priced starting at $23,945*, which makes it the most affordable crossover with three rows of seating. Top that with a five-year/60,000-mile basic warranty and a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty, the Outlander is a great choice for families. Unfortunately, you can only get the bigger engine by spending the most money on the $32,245* GT, but the as-tested price of $34,160 is still a great deal when you start shopping around competitor CUVs with this much content.
Make sure to visit your local AutoNation Mitsubishi dealership and test drive the 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander today!
*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.
**Based on 2018 EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.