Mitsubishi says the new styling of the 2014 Outlander is an urbane design that has more mainstream appeal than before. What they mean by that is the shark nose is gone, as in-your-face styling seems is a thing of the recent past. People have pulled back a bit lately, except maybe for television pundits. Besides, losing the nose was an aerodynamic necessity to get a 7 percent improvement that brings fuel mileage. Gone with the shark grille are the roof rails, in that pursuit of better aero and mileage.
The new grille is a thin, wide, horizontal black slot, that's not really a slot, just mostly black plastic with some chrome plastic. It's a clean shape and design, but far from eye-catching. It's nice that there's not a bunch of funky stuff below the front bumper.
The rockers are flat black, with a concave bit running along the bottom of the doors. There's one nice crease above the door handles that carries all the way to the top of the silvery taillights.
There's a horizontal chrome strip under the rear window, like 90 percent of new vehicles on the planet. When Mitsubishi says the Outlander styling is all about less is more, you want to rip off the chrome to support them.
It's really, really quiet inside the 2014 Outlander. It's so quiet that the tires sound loud; on some pavement they sound like they're groaning. We don't think they're any louder than before, just that the background noise is gone. Mitsubishi says they might look at quieter tires next time. We wonder why, when they go to all that trouble to make it quiet, wouldn't they do tire testing.
But since the standard sound system has been upgraded, you can listen to nice music instead of the singing of the tires.
The bolstering in the seats is okay. Could be tighter but it's a subjective thing. But in the Outlander GT you have those paddle shifters that invite play. We drove an Outlander GT and wished for more bolstering in the seatback. The padding is a just a touch on the firm side. We drove an Outlander SE with perforated black leather seats that were sweet.
The rear seats are less than plush; some might call them thin. They fold down easily, to allow access to the third row. It's pushing things to get seven people in the Outlander, as the guy in the middle seat in the second row doesn't get much. There's 37.3 inches of legroom in the second row, and 28.2 inches in the knees-up third row. Compare that to 37.6 and 31.3 in the Sorento; but the RAV4, which doesn't even have a third row, only has 37.2 inches, so the Outlander looks pretty good.
As for cargo space, there's just 10.3 cubic feet behind the third row, smaller than a sedan trunk; 34.2 cubic feet behind the second row, and 63.3 cubic feet behind the front seat. The Sorento, CR-V and RAV4 all blow the Outlander out of the water in cargo space behind the front seat (72.5, 70.9, 73.4 respectively), and we're at a loss to explain why, because the Outlander and Sorento are about the same length, four and five inches longer than the five-seat CR-V and RAV4. However, the Outlander posts its numbers as SAE cargo capacity, and the others might not adhere to the same standards. We wish every manufacturer would measure the same, for the sake of the consumer, but some have not agreed to follow the SAE standard.
Mitsubishi says there's 128.6 cubic feet of passenger room, and 63.3 cubic feet of cargo space behind the front seat. We wonder where the difference of 65.3 cubic feet is.
The instrumentation is handsome and the gauges clean, but using the touch screen didn't make us happy. Like so many other cars, it's not easy to tune the satellite radio. We won't get into the specifics, as itemized in our notes. We'll just say that we asked a product manager at the launch we attended to perform the simple function we wanted, just to make sure it wasn't us; he said sure, no problem; we stopped counting after 12 touches and he still hadn't gotten there. But we repeat: Mitsubishi's tuning is no worse than many cars we drive.
We couldn't get all the functions we wanted on the display screen at the same time, because we couldn't get things we didn't want off it (not to say it isn't possible). The screen gets very busy, with its history and eco score, bunch of leaves up there to tell you how you're doing; and we wonder who gives a rip. We wanted to watch fuel mileage and range, while listening to the radio and following the navigation, but couldn't pull it off, at least not easily. Finally, with help, we got it.
Speaking of navigation, it sucked. It infuriated us. It is not intuitive, as Mitsubishi boasts. We ask: if you want to go somewhere, wouldn't Route be an intuitive button to press? How about Navigation? We will say that it is programmable. How long did it take for us to intuitively figure it out? Long enough for our coffee to get cold. Voice command, like all of them, is a joke. These systems do not have "smart" ears.
Once navigation is programmed, it doesn't mean it'll get you there. First try, it led us in circles in downtown San Diego. It took 18 minutes to get 2 minutes away from the hotel. Also, the directional arrows don't give you enough warning time. We could go on.