With increasing frequency, manufacturers are adding a third row to their two-row compact and midsize SUVs. Or, like Subaru with its 2019 Ascent, they simply create a new three-row SUV.
Popular three-row vehicles from Asia include the Kia Sorento, Hyundai Santa Fe, Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander. The domestics, Ford Motor Co., General Motors and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, have their own offerings.
Mitsubishi joins the three-row parade with an Outlander, which is not as classy or powerful as the competition but does keep prices down to less than $30,000. A recently tested 2018 top-of-the-line SEL all-wheel-drive model, for example, carried a suggested retail price of $27,995. It climbed above $30,000 only with the addition of a $3,000 option package that included an upgrade Rockford Fosgate sound system, power panoramic glass sunroof and sunshade, LED fog and headlights, and advanced safety gear.
Mid-point pricing for the larger competition, as a rule, is in the neighborhood of $40,000. The competition comes with larger powerplants and can easily tow twice the 1,500-pound trailer weight recommended for the Outlander.
With the purchase of a three-row Outlander SEL, a buyer can expect slow acceleration but a lot of pleasantries. Seats and trim are leather. Roof rails are silver. The sideview mirrors are not only heated but foldable by power. This is a nice feature in a tight garage.
Seats are comfortable and the ride relatively benign. The suspension system works well. The vehicle holds to the road well, too, even around sharp corners. The SEL has P225 all-terrain tires mounted on 18-inch alloy wheels with flashy spokes. There is an SEL badge.
The lighted cargo area expands from 10.3 cubic feet to 63.3 cubic feet after the split rear seats have been folded. The seats fold absolutely flat. The cargo area is not hampered by a sloping roof. There are inset bins toward the rear behind the wheel wells. The cargo area is lighted and has tiedowns. Under a floor lid, there is a cavity to hold the temporary spare tire and wheel.
Smartphones, Bluetooth and a seven-inch color infotainment screen are standard. The SEL has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility; three 12-volt outlets; power driver and front passenger seats, which are heated; middle row seats that slide and recline; power liftgate; four power windows, with the driver’s automatic up and down; and power door locks.
Other niceties include climate control with a micron filter, manual tilt and telescoping steering wheel with redundant sound controls mounted on it, lighted vanity mirrors on front visors, variable intermittent wipers, auxiliary outlets, MP3 player, armrests, cupholders, storage bins and rear privacy glass.
Leg room is good front and rear for adults in the six-foot range or even several inches taller.
On the safety front, the SEL has LED running lights, rain-sensing windshield wipers, hill-start assist, tire pressure monitoring system, antilock brakes, traction and stability controls, and airbags, including one for the driver’s knees.
The 2.4-liter engine mated to a continuously variable transmission in a recently tested SEL was pokey. Acceleration from zero to 60 mph will take 10 seconds. An optional 3-liter, 224-horsepower V-6 engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission will be quicker.
What the Outlander lacks in power or quality of materials, it makes up for in price and warranty. The basic warranty of five years or 60,000 miles outdoes most, if not all, the competition. The 10-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty should comfort buyers.
Mitsubishi’s three-row Outlander can get pricey, but only when a $35,000 to $40,00 plug-in hybrid model is bought. This hybrid SUV can travel 22 miles on electricity before the gasoline engine kicks in.
Vehicle: 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander SEL
Type: seven-passenger, three-row, four-door, all-wheel-drive compact SUV
Engine: 2.4-liter, 166-horsepower, double overhead cam, in-line four-cylinder
Transmission: continuously variable
Towing: 1,500 pounds
Fuel: regular unleaded
Fuel tank: 16.6 gallons
Fuel economy: 24 mpg city, 29 mpg highway, 26 mpg combined
Wheelbase, length, width, height, ground clearance in inches: 105.1, 184.8, 71.3, 67.3, 8.5
Weight: 3,373 pounds
Leg room: 41.6 inches front, 36.3 inches rear
Cargo: 10.3 cubic feet rear seats upright, 63.3 cubic feet rear seats down, 34.2 cubic feet third row flat, second row upright
Suspension: struts front, multi-links rear, stabilizer bars
Tires (P225), alloy wheels: 18-inch
Brakes: discs, 11.6-inch ventilated front, 11.9-inch solid rear
Turning curb-to-curb: 34.8 feet
Warranty: 5 years/60,000 miles with roadside assistance, 10 years/100,000 miles powertrain