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Thinking outside the box with Mitsubishi offers some tempting benefits

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The Mitsubishi Outlander comes with one of the most impressive new-car warranties on the market and it has been stalwart for crash test ratings. One of few compact SUVs that offers third-row seating, the Mitsubishi Outlander delivers a lot of vehicle value in a small package.

Prices for a 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander are excellent for a compact SUV. The Outlander’s entry-level trim, the ES, retails for $23,945, while the Outlander is also available as the SE ($24,945), the LE and SEL ($26,145), and the GT ($32,245).

I recently tested an SEL and my tester featured a great-looking Cosmic Blue Metallic that created an instant focal point for the exterior. This is a bold color for a bold style of SUV. It only served to draw attention to a vehicle (brand) that can often be overlooked when considering a great value buy for the family transport.

INTERIOR

The Outlander offers a distinction as being a seven-seat SUV with three rows. The hybrid (Outlander PHEV) models only offer option of five seats. Upgrades such as leather seats and heated front seats can add a touch of luxury. Seating comfort is adequate in the first and second rows, while the third-row seats are a bit cramped.

The Outlander’s interior is not an exercise in luxury amenities, but nobody would go into it expecting that with a base price of $23,945. Mitsubishi does a fine job of delivering midgrade materials to keep the cabin from feeling cheap, but a few squeaks here and there will remind you of the bargain base price.

My Outlander SEL tester, which featured leather seats and upgraded trim and a more premium experience, was a comfortable setting for both short and long-term trips. Seating is bolstered more than adequately and adjustments make easy positioning a few levers away.

TECH

Outlander comes with a 7-inch touch screen, a USB port, and Bluetooth for infotainment. The interface is simple, and the accompanying controls are within easy reach. Trims come standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

CARGO ROOM

The Outlander is one of the few compact SUVs with a third-row seat, but part of the concession for adding extra seats is the loss of some cargo space. With every seat folded there’s 63.3 cubic feet of room – a tad below average for this class. There’s a decent amount of cargo space with the second row in place (at 34.2 cubic feet), and the 10.3 cubic feet available behind the third row is enough to accommodate a run to the store.

POWER

The standard powertrain has a 166-horsepower four-cylinder engine, a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), and front-wheel drive. An all-wheel drive option is available. An optional power plant is available as the 3.0-L V6 mateed to a robust 6-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive.

The Outlander PHEV is another option to cut visits to the gas station, though the base and upgrades provide respectable fuel economy with 24 city and 29 highway.

SAFETY

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) named the Outlander a 2018 Top Safety Pick. The SUV earned the top score of Good in all areas tested. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the Outlander a perfect five-star rating for side impact safety, as well as four stars for front and rollover crash safety.

Every Outlander comes with a standard rearview camera, while available safety features include a multi-view camera, rain-sensing windshield wipers, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, automatic high beams, blind spot warning, rear cross traffic alert, and active lane change assist.

Overall, the Mitsubishi Outlander is a value for those who are on a tight budget. From a family perspective it offers a lot of savings and a very safe ride.

This auto review was researched and written by SteinPro Content Services and provided to the Sun-Times for publication