Mitsubishi introduced the Outlander in 2001 as a midsize crossover based on the ASX concept. Initially known as the Mitsubishi Airtrek on the Japanese market, the first-gen Outlander was powered by a range of 2.0-liter and 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engines mated to four- and five-speed manual and automatic transmissions. The vehicle was launched in the United States in 2003 as a replacement for the Montero Sport. The second-gen Outlander arrived in 2005. The redesigned shell came with new engines, new gearboxes and new safety features. For the first time, the crossover gained a 3.0-liter V-6 and a six-speed, twin-clutch transmission. A 2009 facelift added the Lancer’s front end to the Outlander. The second-gen model was replaced altogether for the 2013 model year, when major visual and drivetrain updates were operated. More importantly, the Outlander became available as a plug-in hybrid under the P-HEV moniker. As we move into the 2015 model year, Mitsubishi is readying the first mid-cycle refresh for its successful crossover.
The facelift comes as a last hurrah for the third-generation Outlander, which is scheduled to be replaced by a brand-new vehicle in 2017. To keep it fresh in a segment attended by many manufacturers, the Japanese automaker is refining the vehicle’s exterior looks, while upgrading the interior and the powertrains.
Click past the jump to read more about the 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander.
August 1st, 2014 - First testing session
Scheduled to be unveiled by the end of the year, the upcoming 2015 Outlander began testing in Europe in August 2014. Although covered by plenty of camouflage, the crossover is almost ready for production, as it features a bunch of redesigned body panels and parts. As with most facelifts, the Outlander gained a reshaped front fascia that includes a new grille, a revamped bumper, and revised headlamps. However, the changes seems to be quite extensive as suggested by the way the camo wraps around the nose.
Changes continue around back too, although they’re less obvious. While the taillights seem to carryover as far as shape goes, the bumper lights are brand new and have been moved further to the edges. We expect to see a slightly revised rear bumper and an unaltered tailgate. From the side, the Outlander looks a bit different too. The sills are slightly beefier, while black plastic trims have been added to the lower area of the doors for a touch of ruggedness.
There’s no word as to what interior updates will arrive with the facelifted Outlander, but our spy shots reveal Mitsubishi is still using the infotainment system already available in the third-gen vehicle. However, we expect an updated unit to be offered, albeit not necessarily with a larger touchscreen, and a slightly reconfigured center console. New upholstery colors and added options for each trim level should become available as well.
Changes will be quite limited under the hood. The Japanese manufacturer may not introduce new engines, but the existing units will benefit from minor enhancements set to improve fuel economy and reduce emissions. In the United States, the Outlander will keep both the 2.4-liter four-banger motivating the ES and SE versions and the 3.0-liter V-6 powering the range-topping GT model. The former delivers 166 horsepower, while the latter brings 224 ponies. Pricing is likely to increase by nearly $1,000, so expect the 2015 Outlander to start from around $24,000.
Redesigned for the 2014 model year, the Sorento received a bevy of visual upgrades that include modified front and rear fascias and larger wheels. A tad smaller than its predecessor, the new Sorento looks sportier and more dynamic, a feat available for only a handful of vehicles in its class. Moving into the cabin, Kia added Nappa leather-trimmed seats, more soft-touch surfaces, and improved functionality.
Unlike the Outlander, which can carry up to seven people in standard form, the 2014 Sorento needs to be ordered with an option to return the same hauling capacity. As far as engines go, the Sorento outguns the Outlander in terms of power. The standard 2.4-liter four-pot produces 191 horses and 181 pound-feet of torque, while the brand new 3.3-liter, V-6 unit cranks out 290 ponies and 250 pound-feet of torque. That’s 24 and 66 horsepower more, respectively, when compared to the Mitsubishi-badged crossover. For 2015, the Kia Sorento retails from $24,300.
Gallery Kia Sorento
Introduced in 2013, the fourth-generation Toyota RAV4 is still fresh for the upcoming Outlander. Redesigned inside and out, the crossover also received new technologies, a fuel-efficient four-cylinder engine, a new six-speed transmission and many more. The RAV4 is definitely the most attractive of the bunch as far as looks are concerned, but it has no optional third row of seats.
Moving over to drivetrains, the RAV4 is also inferior to the Kia, as its entry-level engine deliveres only 176 ponies. On the other hand, the four-banger has ten extra horses when compared to the Outlander. The unit mates to a six-speed automatic transmission, and returns 31 mpg highway and 24 mpg city. The RAV4 starts from $23,550 and goes up from there.