With the birth of a new millennium came the birth of a new Mitsubishi generation line—the Mitsubishi Outlander. Introduced in Asia in 2001 and in North America by 2003, this new batch distinguished itself from its competitors with a distinctive, sporty appeal that balanced a family friendly design with moderate, sporty handling. Today, the compact crossover SUV boasts of a decent fun-to-drive charisma with an energetic engine and tough appeal.
2001-2005: A unique Sportronic semi-automatic transmission system
Although it was released in Asian markets in 2001 as the Mitsubishi Airtrek, the Outlander was only introduced in North America by 2003 to replace the Montero Sport. What distinguished this Mitsubishi model from other crossover SUV types was its Tiptronic shift system or Sportronic semi-automatic transmission system that allowed the owner to selectively shift gears up or down via a lever. This unique configuration of the Outlander strikes the balance between an automatic and manual transmission for a more comfortable ride. This North American version also came with a 2.4 liter four cylinder engine that produced a maximum 160 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque.
2005-2010: New models, engines and transmissions
Now adopting the Mitsubishi Outlander as its global name, the second generation featured third-row seating and an additional cargo room to supplement the all new DOHC 2.4 liter 16-valve MIVEC engine coupled with an INVECS-III continuously variable transmission (CVT). This size configuration was an answer to the spacing issues of the previous batch of Mitsubishi Outlanders.
By the latter part of this generation, new Outlander trim models were also introduced. First displayed in the 2007 SEMA Show in Las Vegas, the Mitsubishi Evolander concept, which is now known as the Outlander Ralliart, was equipped with a supercharged V6 engine, an upgraded suspension among others, and a renovated interior design as well. Additionally, the Outlander GT Prototype was exhibited at the 2009 New York International Auto show, which featured a Lancer Evolution X-based front grille. This now compact SUV version was also installed with a new color MFD dashboard display and an S-AWC AWD system.
2010–present: The plug-in hybrid
What made this generation of Mitsubishi Outlanders distinct from the others is the introduction of a plug-in hybrid variant called the Outlander P-HEV. This concept from the 2012 Paris Motor Show is based on the Mitsubishi i-MiEV system and its lithium-ion battery pack configuration that is expected to achieve a 143 mpg for fuel economy. With this new batch of Mitsubishi Outlander models, the target focus of Mitsubishi would generally lean to a more fuel-efficient car with decent engine performance.