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car review

2016 Mitsubishi OutlanderJeremy Cato

The vehicle

The Outlander is a compact crossover utility. But compared to key rivals such as the Honda CR-V, it's slightly oversized for the class – more akin to a Kia Sorento than a CR-V. The Outlander and Nissan Rogue are the only compact crossovers available with three rows of seating and the Outlander is the only vehicle in its class available with a V-6 engine. All the other compact crossovers are powered by four-cylinder engines. The 2016 version has been updated with some 100 "enhancements," as Mitsubishi calls them. The last full redesign was for 2014, so this is a mid-cycle makeover.

Signature feature

Mitsu is introducing its new design language in the 2016 Outlander – dubbed "Dynamic Shield." Product planning boss Don Ulmer says the new look is reflected in the grille, bumpers, wheel arches, front and rear fascias, LED daytime running lights and alloy wheels. It's not a design change pulled out of thin air, he says. It's a heritage design that harkens back to the Montero SUV. "The whole idea," says Ulmer, "is to convey strength" in a family-type wagon backed up by a 10-year power train warranty.

What else is new?

The four-cylinder version gets a new continuously variable transmission (CVT) designed to feel like a more traditional automatic gearbox. That is, in most cases this CVT is programmed to behave as though gears are shifting, even though they are not. The idea is to get away from the snowmobile-like transmission feel. Mitsu has also packed in more sound deadening, updated the suspension tuning, dressed up the cabin with new materials and simplified dramatically the process for flipping and folding the second row seat.

Under the hood

Two offerings, a 2.4-litre four-cylinder (166 horsepower/162 lb-ft of torque) mated to the CVT or a 3.0-litre V-6 (224 hp/215 lb-ft of torque) paired with a six-speed automatic. The four-banger has a tow rating of 680 kilograms, while the V-6 is rated at 1,588 kilograms.

When can we buy it, and for how much?

It's on sale now. Prices range from $25,998 to $38,498.

Cool quotient

3.5 (out of 5)

The design fits together well. There is a bit of the Audi Q7 there, with the taillamp design similar to what you see in the latest Lincoln SUVs. This is, ultimately, a family wagon, however. So it's more functional than cool.

The writer was a guest of the auto maker. Content was not subject to approval.