When it’s time to dive into CES every year, there are some things we come to expect and accept. One of those things is CES traffic, which takes normally bad traffic on and near the Las Vegas Strip and mutates it into something that (might) even make Los Angeles wince. What we’re saying is, if we’re going to be stuck in that, it would be pretty nice to at least be comfortable. Fortunately, we got to test out the 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander during CES this year, and while it’s not the highest-tech, or fastest CUV on the market, you can be assured that it is very comfortable.
The 2016 Outlander struggles in terms of raw performance, but it does make for a smooth ride with good handling. We test drove the SEL trim with the 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine, and due to the weight of the car, it was clear during the rare times when we didn’t have traffic in front of us that the Outlander isn’t great with acceleration. But, we don’t really need our crossovers to be super speedy — we’re looking for comfort, and in terms of performance, we loved how quiet the ride was despite the Outlander being so large. Mitsubishi’s estimate of 27 mpg seemed accurate to us, accounting for the traffic we were usually stuck in.
Inside, the SEL features some excellent leather upholstery that was a joy to sit in when faced with bumper-to-bumper traffic, especially the front two seats. All three rows of seating are comfortable, though, even if the third row is still a little cramped. The extra headroom in this 2016 model was also welcomed, as taller members of the team didn’t have too hard of a time getting in and out of the vehicle. When not in use, the third row of seats can lay flat to expand trunk storage, and it’s very easy to lay those down or set them back up again.
On the exterior, Mitsubishi designed the 2016 Outlander to have a more athletic build. The result isn’t bad, but it isn’t distinctive compared to the glut of crossovers on the market now. Then again, the 2016 Outlander being the budget choice, that might not be too big of a deal for prospective buyers.
Tech was hit or miss. It’s great that Mitsubishi is extending more safety features like the reverse camera, forward collision mitigation, lane departure warning, and adaptive cruise control to cheaper trims, although the bulk of them still aren’t available on the base trim. There’s not much there in the way of an infotainment system, but again, at a budget price like this, that’s one of the first things we’d figure would be on the chopping block. If you’re looking to get into Apple Car Play or Android Auto, you’ll definitely need to look at a higher price point. The in-car audio system is solid, all things considered, and worked well for passengers in all rows.
One cool addition is keyless entry — the 2016 Outlander can recognize when the keyfob (and you) are approaching and unlock the doors automatically. In practice, this didn’t work 100 percent of the time, but it was a nice feature when it did work. There’s also an unlock button on the trunk door that can be used to unlock the other doors, which is handy when your first order of business is storing away groceries in the back.