- - Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Redesigned in 2014, the small crossover SUV from Mitsubishi called the Outlander features several enhancements, including better fuel economy, an upgraded interior and a standard third-row seat.

Even so, the small crossover SUV lineup is already a big one. Mitsubishi is an attractive but oft-forgotten option among the five-seat Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, Mazda CX-5 and Toyota RAV 4, as well as the seven-seat Kia Sorento and Hyundai Santa Fe.

For the 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander, the three trim levels include the base ES, mid-range SE and top-of-the-line GT. The ES offers 16-inch steel wheels, fog lights, heated mirrors, rear privacy glass, power accessories and a 60/40 split-folding second-row seat that also slides and reclines. As well, there is a 50/50-split third-row seat, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and standard cruise control.

With the mid-range SE, you get 18-inch alloy wheels, keyless ignition/entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel, a rearview camera and Mitsubishi’s “Fuse” voice command system. In this mid-range option you also get an upgraded audio system with a touchscreen display as well as all the techie add-ons like Bluetooth connectivity, HD radio and iPod/USB interface.

With the high-end GT model, you can add a Premium package option that includes a sunroof, power liftgate, leather upholstery, power driver seat and a Rockford Fosgate audio system. In the Touring package option, which can be had with the SE and GT, additions range from rain-sensing wipers to a voice-operated navigation system, a larger touchscreen display and, for safety, a collision-warning/mitigation and lane-departure warning system.

As an add-on, the Exterior Package comes with a rear spoiler and a rear-seat entertainment system. For stand-alone additions, the Mitsubishi Outlander can be had with not only a rear parking sensor but also a remote start.

Under the hood, the Outlander comes with two different power trains, depending on the trim level chosen. In the ES and the SE trims, there is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with 166 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque. The ES is available in front-wheel drive, and the SE offering is either a front-wheel or all-wheel drive.

With the GT trim, expect a 3.0-liter V6 engine with 224 horsepower and 215 pound feet of torque coming standard with a six-speed automatic, all-wheel drive.

For safety, the Mitsubishi has not only anti-lock disc brakes and traction-and-stability control but also hill-start assist, driver-side knee, front seat side and side curtain airbags. Depending on the trim and the package options you choose, you will find other safety features that include a lane-departure and forward collision-warning as well as frontal collision alert and full panic braking.

One of the standouts of the 2014 Mitsubishi is the upgraded interior, no longer the cheap look and feel as in years past. Count on the front seats to offer more comfort along with a good amount of leg room. Even in the second-row there is plenty of comfort. For the third-row, a long road trip is not recommended, but it will do for small children as needed.

For transporting stuff, there is 34.2 cubic feet of space behind the second-row seats, and if you fold both the second and third rows down, there is 63.3 cubic feet to use for hauling.

Overall, when driving the 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander the acceleration is standard fare, getting around and driving short trips will be fine, but opt for the GT experience for best performance overall. Not exactly for the “uber” sporty set, nevertheless for a sturdy ride and drive this Mitsubishi offers a fine experience and for off road the all-wheel-drive system is more than capable no matter snow, rain or anything in between.

Should You Need to Know: In its third generation, the 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander comes equipped in certain trims with a frontal impact warning/mitigation system. With the notable power train updates, expect aerodynamics to play a large role in the more impressive fuel economy.

Miles Per Gallon: The 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander I drove came in at 24 miles per gallon in the city and 29 miles per gallon on the highway with a total combined fuel economy of 26 miles per gallon.

Cost: The 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander 2.4 SE S-AWC I had for the week had a price tag of $32,720.