Let’s take a look around the Outlander’s cabin, minus the entertainment center console, which is an update unto itself. After driving the Outlander for a few months I’ve noticed how comfortable I feel getting in and out of the vehicle. In a lot of smaller vehicles it’s a challenge to fall into, then climb out of the driver’s seat. That would be a deal-breaker for me at the car lot. The last thing I want to do is struggle getting in and out of your daily driver. That’s the kind of thing that makes a person want to take public transportation and we don’t advocate that here.
In the Outlander’s driver’s seat I like that I’m able to bend my left leg backward and stretch it out a bit without feeling too constricted. It’s an SUV, not a sports car, so comfort is a bigger part of the equation here. The seat is not too soft, nor is it as hard as the one in the Kia Sorento we had in our fleet a few years ago. After driving another car for a day or two I notice how easily I fall back into the Outlander’s seat. It’s become quite comfortable. The heated seats are a nice luxury if you’ve got back tightness.
I sit strangely close to the wheel, so I’m often adjusting seats forward quite a bit. I’ve been able to find a setting I’ve stuck with. I noticed in my previous long-term vehicle, a Subaru Impreza, I’d often need to adjust in the morning because something about my position wasn’t working for me on my drive home. Not the case so far in the Outlander.
The center console works just fine and doesn’t bring any unwanted attention to itself. When contrasted with the Chrysler 300’s over-engineered shifter I appreciate that the engineers didn’t decide to change something for the sake of showing off. When the time comes to shift this baby into 4WD the easy-to-understand button will make starting my off-roading trip a snap.
There’s pretty good storage space for my phone, sunglasses, and bottle of soda under the main console – again, nothing amazing or groundbreaking, but it works. However, it would be an easy area for Mitsubishi to up its game and it seems like a missed opportunity.
The steering wheel is neither too grippy nor too slick, and neither too big nor small. However, I do miss the padded wheel in the Grand Cherokee I drove a few years ago. My thinking is the driver is in contact with the steering wheel every day, so why not make it something memorable?
The audio controls on the steering wheel resemble an old-school videogame controller.
With this huge button, switching to 4WD couldn’t be easier.
The technology controls on the wheel are simple and laid out in a reasonable way. On the left the audio volume, selection, and mode button exist in what resembles a Nintendo home controller from 1989. Up and down for volume and left and right to change tracks or stations. The middle button changes the media mode. Below that is the controls for making a hands-free phone call.
The right side of the steering wheel has the Adaptive Cruise Control cluster, which I’ll put through its paces when I get out on the open road.
I still sometimes fumble to find the gas cap release. I considered putting some Day-Glo tape on it so it’d be easier to find, but it’s not a huge problem. (Update: I put some tape on it.) The interior lights employ the push-the-light-itself method, which is really the way to go. Note to carmakers: This works. Keep doing it.
Headroom is as important as legroom, and again, I find no problems here. There is plenty of space for my head even when I’m wearing a baseball cap. The overall feel is neither cramped nor cavernous, and the sunroof is best used on balmy evenings to get some fresh air and connect with the outside world. Wiper controls are normal (even finding the rear wiper control is a snap) and the turn signals work like they should, although some other drivers have found them mystifying.
While I can hear the engine whirring loudly when asking it to run, I haven’t had any problems with excessive road noise. In a future update, I’ll be trying new tires and I’ll compare the difference between the two.