It’s no secret that the crossover segment is highly competitive, thanks to low fuel costs and the popular sedan-SUV style that offers the best of both worlds. The Mitsubishi Outlander has been incredibly successful, especially since the brand isn’t hugely popular in the United States. Originally dubbed the Airtrek, the crossover was based on an adventure-filled driving experience.
The Outlander, like many crossovers, offers four-wheel drive and a high ground clearance, while maintaining sedan-like fuel economy and size. Sporting the best of both worlds, the first-generation crossover began production in 2001, and was offered in the Japanese market. By 2002, the Outlander shared the Lancer Evolution’s 2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine rated at 241 hp and 253 lb-ft of torque.
Come 2003 and 2004, the Outlander made its way to American shorts, effectively replacing the Montero Sport. Available with both front- and four-wheel drive as well as a powerhouse of an engine, the Outlander quickly found its niche in the market.
Due to the crossover’s success in export markets, the automaker changed the name from Airtrek to Outlander globally in 2005. With the release of the second-generation model powered by a 3-liter MIVEC V6 engine, the Outlander continued its phenomenal success. All-wheel drive was introduced during the second-generation model’s lifespan, quickly gaining ground among drivers seeking adventure on the road.
The 2007 SEMA Show saw the Mitsubishi Evolander concept, almost known as the Outlander Ralliart. A combination of the popular Lancer Evolution and Outlander, it was powered by a supercharged 3-liter V6 engine that put out 226 hp and 215 lb-ft of torque. Following a 2010 refresh, the third generation Outlander was introduced for the 2013 model year.
A new generation brought increased sales with 103,000 units sold in the introductory year alone. The new Outlander earned top safety score across the board in United States, Japanese, and European safety tests. The 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander received over 100 design and engineering improvements, bringing a new style while retaining the original functionality and price the crossover is known for.
Today, the Mitsubishi Outlander boasts the same functional, practical, and fun design it was born with. Earning up to an EPA-estimated 25 city/31 hwy mpg and an available plug-in hybrid model, it doesn’t look like the Outlander is going away anytime soon.