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Friday, January 23 2015 09:29

Test Drive: Rockin' the Road - 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander GT Review

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It's a rare thing to have a vehicle from a press fleet for more than a week, but that's exactly what happened when a 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander GT arrived here at Rock Father HQ for review over the holidays. The extra time was beneficial both to the vehicle and our family for some real-world testing hauling people and stuff from Northern Illinois to Michigan and back. Marketed as a great value and exceptionally safe Crossover SUV for families looking for a lot of people capacity for a lower price, Mitsubishi has wisely focused on the Outlander's strong points, drawing attention away from some curiously-unexciting features on the design front. While my thoughts are split on this one, I can tell you this before we move any further: my kids love it.

A photo posted by James Zahn (@therockfather) on

Exterior Style

If first impressions are everything, the Outlander does not excite as a visual whole, though I do like the GT's 18" alloy wheels. It's not bad by any means, but it's just bland with a weird-shaped front end that feels out-of-proportion and lacking any kind of real stance. On the flip side, there's likely a certain audience out there that might dig the simplicity, but I prefer a more muscular vehicle with some shape to it.

2015 Mitsubishi Outlander GT Review

Interior Style

Curiously-dated, the interior of the Outlander GT is nice, but it feels a decade behind the competition. A lack of ergonomics was the first thing to strike me, and the materials reminded me of the 90s - especially the mix of shiny, hard plastics and fake wood contrasting against leather seating. Add some rather blocky controls into the mix, and there's just not a lot to get excited about in terms of styling.

Function & Performance

A cumbersome head unit for the otherwise excellent Rockford Fosgate audio system is another oddity here, with unintuitive controls for navigation, and a ridiculous multi-step process for inserting a CD (yes, some folks still use those). Where 99% of vehicles allow you to simply slide a disc in a slot to load, then hit one button to eject, the Outlander forces drivers to press an "open" button that moves the screen to reveal the disc slot behind it - then a tap on the screen to eject (if needed) - and then another press of the "open" button to close the whole contraption.  Those gripes aside, overall function and performance is where the Outlander not only gets good, but excels in some areas.

2015 Mitsubishi Outlander GT Review

From a spatial standpoint, the Outlander is a comfortable ride that's easy to get used to. Second row seating offers plenty of room for the kids (we had two in car seats), while standard fold-flat third row seating ups the potential capacity up to seven passengers, but those in the third row will find a tight squeeze, and car seats are not acceptable in that row. Cargo capacity is respectable when going the two-row route, while limited with third-row. All rear seats can also fold-flat for maximum hauling.

The 3.0L MIVEC V6 is powerful, and the Super All Wheel Control (S-AWC) worked great with a variety of settings including "snow," which I tried back here in Illinois when a storm hit. The Outlander GT handled great on snow and ice, just as it did on a clear highway. With an estimated fuel economy of 23 MPG combined (20 City/28 Highway), we were running pretty close to that, especially given the Interstate travel. 

2015 Mitsubishi Outlander GT Review

Safety

While adaptive cruise control, front collision mitigation and lane departure systems are optional, the Outlander is loaded with features that have already helped it achieve status as an IIHS "Top Safety Pick+"- the highest safety award issued by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Traction and stability control, 7 standard airbags (including a driver's knee airbag), side airbags, crumple zones, hill start assist and more are all standard.

Price

While base model Outlanders start around $23,195, a fully-stocked GT model tops off around $34,295. 

The Bottom Line

Having reviewed both the Outlander GT and it's little sibling, the Outlander Sport, I feel that Mitsubishi needs to hire some new designers and find a vision that will bring in some excitement so that there can be a visual match for their impressive technological accomplishments. A "family" vehicle should still be stylish and fun to drive, and a decent price doesn't mean that style needs to be sacrificed. The designs here are just lazy and boring, yet again, I can't say the Outlander GT isn't a good vehicle - it's comfortable, functional, safe and we got used to it very quickly... almost too quickly - as if we'd already owned it for a long time and the excitement had passed.  And, yes, my girls did really enjoy it, with my five-year-old still talking about "the cool red truck we took to Grandpa Dale's house."

With the Chicago Auto Show just a few weeks out, Mitsubishi is teasing "The Return of a Legend," which points to something else in the SUV realm. My curiosity is piqued... if they bring some inspiring design. Stay tuned...

Learn more and build yours at the Mitsubishi website.
James Zahn

James Zahn is best-known as The Rock Father™, a media personality, commentator, adventurer and raconteur. In January, 2019, after nearly a decade as Publisher of The Rock Father Magazine, he joined Adventure Publishing Group as Senior Editor of The Toy Book—the leading trade publication for the toy industry since 1984, as well as The Pop Insider—a destination for all things pop culture. He is also editor of The Toy Report, a weekly newsletter published by The Toy Book each Thursday. Zahn has over 25 years of experience in the entertainment, retail and publishing industries.

He regularly serves as a Brand Ambassador and spokesperson for several Globally-recognized pop culture and lifestyle brands in addition to consulting for a number of toy manufacturers. 

Creatively, James has directed/edited music videos, lyric videos, and album trailers for bands such as FEAR FACTORY, has appeared as an actor in feature films and commercials, written comic books, and performed in bands. He currently serves as an artist manager and video director for PRODUCT OF HATE, whose debut album was released by Napalm Records in 2016, distributed by ADA/Warner Music in the U.S. with Universal Music handling global. A new album has been completed and is set for release this year.

James and/or his work have been featured in/on CNN, FOX Business, NBC, ABC, WGN, G4, The Chicago Tribune, BusinessWire, Babble, Fangoria, Starlog and more. He's appeared as a music expert on CNN's AC360 alongside Anderson Cooper, and has been interviewed by Larry King. In the past he served as a writer for the Netflix Stream Team,  Fandango Family and PBS KIDS, penned articles for Sprout and PopSugar, and was a contributor to Chicago Parent.

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