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A few months ago when I contacted Mitsubishi, I was inquiring the smaller sized member of the Outlander family… the Outlander Sport. Eagerly anticipating their response, they informed me that one was not available at that time. But when they mentioned they had the larger Outlander available, my first thought was, “are those still are around?”… Come to find they are and here it is! So let’s find out if this forgotten SUV still holds a competitive edge against the mid-size SUV market.

When this Metallic Gray Outlander GT arrived at my office, I didn’t know what to think of it at first. It looks like your basic SUV that would get lost in a sea of SUV’s at your local Wal-Mart. Losing its Lancer front façade the Outlander gains its own personality of smoother trimmed lines and sleeker wheel arches filled with 18” alloys. It also has a lower discreet front grille and black molded body accents. Walk around the rear, you’ll find clear body wrapping tail lamps with silver accents. I am starting to see why it was forgotten.

Under the hood you’ll find a 3.0 liter V6 producing 224 horsepower and 215 lb-ft of torque. This power is delivered to each wheel through the Super All-Wheel Drive Control (S-AWC) from a 6-speed automatic transmission. There are 3-selectable driving modes Snow-Normal-Eco that can be adjusted for your driving conditions. Putting the power down isn’t performance driven; the word adequate comes to mind. The Outlander feels heavy, weighing at 3,571lbs it struggled to pull out 8 seconds to 60 mph, but you can get a more keen driving experience with the stainless steel steering wheel paddle shifters.

Handling is about what you’d expect from any SUV. The steering is smooth at lower speeds, which is great for parking; it even has an excellent turning radius. But at higher speeds the steering gets tight and you’ll notice a bit of body roll when turns are taken to fast.  Braking wasn’t as good as it should be; the brake petal lacked feel and the front & rear anti-lock brakes became disappointing when distracted holiday drivers were sure to test their limits. At least the suspension was smooth and the ride was quiet through the city streets and suburban highways.  Fuel economy is about average at 17 mpg city and 21 highway, with a combined average of 20.7 mpg. Surprisingly this Outlander recommends Premium Fuel – fueling the 15.8 gallon fuel tank cost around $45 when fueling from a quarter tank and was able to pull out an expected fuel range of 270 miles.

Jump on into the Outlander and you’ll find a comfortable driver’s seat that is easily adjustable with 4-way power adjustments. Black perforated leather fills the interior upholstery pleasantly with white stitching. Both passenger and driver can enjoy heated surfaces along with a dual zone climate control system. This is a 7-passenger, but given the overall 183.3” in length the third row should be designated children only. The second row can slide forward for additional third row leg room. The first and second row seats are comfortable to be in with plentiful leg and head room; rear passengers can sit back and relax with a 3-way reclining seat.

Push the start button and watch the instrument cluster glow white with blue accents, and a center LCD color trip computer display. Matching the interior, the dash is covered in black leatherette with velour wood trim and glistening piano black finish. Our Outlander came equipped with the optional $6,100 GT Touring Package that included a 7” touch screen Audio display with Rockford Fosgate premium sound, Navigation with back-up camera & 3D Mapping, Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Departure Warning, Forward Collision Mitigation, Sun Roof, & Power Lift Tail Gate. This is where things start to turn for the worst. The touch screen interface has an aftermarket feel to it, the buttons are too small to read, its difficulty to navigate and entering a destination is awfully slow. The Adaptive Cruise Control would constantly adjust speed whenever a vehicle wasn’t in front of you and I had an extremely hard time working the voice activation.

It’s of no surprise that in a mid-size SUV with the third row up the trunk capacity becomes limited as well as your rear window visibly. Fold the third row down and you’ll get proper SUV cargo capacity. Need additional cargo room? Unfortunately the second row doesn’t fold flat, but they can slide forward for a couple extra feet.

The Outlander isn’t a bad utility vehicle; it showed willingness and eagerness up against its top rivals. It’s comfortable to drive and with a starting price of $22,995 for a 7-passenger… makes it hard to beat. However, alongside its competitors it’s starting to look out dated in style, technology and performance.

Although my review appears a little lackluster, Mitsubishi is working hard at improving the Outlander. I for one am excited to see what they have in store for us.