2005 Mitsubishi Outlander
Debuting a few years after the start of the new millennium, the first-generation Mitsubishi Outlander was a late arrival to the small-SUV segment. Like many of its peers, it had a car-based design that had good handling and a comfortable ride on paved roads, but limited off-road capability. With so many competitors, Mitsubishi tried to set the Outlander apart with distinctive styling and a sporty demeanor.
Compared to popular models from Honda and Toyota, however, the older Outlander models offered less interior space, and their breathless four-cylinder engines failed to live up to Mitsubishi's sporting image.
These problems were addressed in the larger second-generation Mitsubishi Outlander, which gained a third-row seat option and an available V6 engine. Even so, the Outlander still lives in the shadows of its more successful contemporaries, whose reputations for overall quality and reliability are well-known to consumers. In spite of its lower profile, the second-generation Outlander is a competitive small SUV. It has the available all-wheel-drive system, high driving position and versatile cargo space consumers have come to expect in this segment, and sets itself apart with distinctive styling, advanced technology and a lively personality.
The 2005 Mitsubishi Outlander compact crossover SUV is offered in three trim levels - base ES, midgrade SE and luxury-themed XLS - with power provided by either a 2.4-liter four-cylinder (168 horsepower), or a 3.0-liter V6 (220 hp). Four-cylinder Outlanders are outfitted with a continuously variable transmission (CVT), while six-cylinder models feature a six-speed automatic with manual shift mode.
The ES comes with the basics, including full power accessories, a CD player and a lot of safety features. The SE adds 18-inch wheels, keyless ignition and entry, sport seats, a 650-watt Rockford Fosgate stereo and satellite radio. Step up to the XLS and you'll get a third-row seat, automatic climate control, a six-CD changer, sliding second-row seats and Bluetooth. Other feature highlights, depending on trim level, include a back-up camera and a navigation system with a 40GB hard drive to store music files.
Outlanders come with either front-wheel drive or AWD. Notably, the advanced AWD system has three settings, including a fuel-saving two-wheel-drive mode, an all-weather four-wheel-drive Auto mode and a 4WD Lock mode, which locks the front and rear axles together for maximum traction in extreme conditions.
The 2005 Mitsubishi Outlander has its energetic V6 engine as well as its family-friendly design and moderately sporty handling. Negatives include a ride quality that may be too stiff for some and interior controls that still lack the solidity of the switchgear in Honda and Toyota offerings. Overall, buyers seeking value, style and fun-to-drive characteristics in a package that doesn't sacrifice daily usability will find the Mitsubishi Outlander a solid contender.