The Mitsubishi Outlander is a compact crossover SUV manufactured by Mitsubishi Motors. It is loosely based on the Mitsubishi Lancer platform, though its engine is derived from the Mitsubishi Galant. The Outlander's main competitors in the North American market are the Subaru Forester, Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, Mazda CX-7, Hyundai Santa Fe and the Kia Sorento (released the same time as the Outlander). Secondary competitors include the Pontiac Vibe, the Saturn VUE, Hyundai Tucson/Kia Sportage and the Ford Escape/Mazda CX-5. It replaced the Challenger/Montero Sport as Mitsubishi's small SUV.
Designed by Olivier Boulay, the Outlander was first introduced to North America in 2003. It was essentially a Japanese-market Mitsubishi Airtrek with a modified, more aggressive-looking front end. The Outlander is sold in Singapore and Brazil under the name Mitsubishi Airtrek, while in the rest of the world, it retains the Outlander nameplate. The North American version is available in three trim levels: LS, XLS, and Limited (introduced in 2005). All trim levels have the option of front wheel drive or all wheel drive. The all wheel drive version uses normal ("open") differentials for the front and rear axles, with a viscous coupling unit for the center differential.
The North American version, however, only offers one engine, a 2.4 L I4 engine which produces a maximum of 160 hp and 162 ftÂ·lbf of torque. The Airtrek, on the other hand, offers the additional option of a turbocharged engine.
Another feature which sets the Outlander apart from some other crossover SUVs is its Sportronic semi-automatic transmission system (sometimes referred to as a Tiptronic shift system), which allows the driver to selectively shift gears up or down by pushing the shift lever up or down. This system has recently been used on many different types of vehicles, and is generally regarded as a good compromise between an automatic transmission and a manual transmission. The 2005 model year, however, introduced a 5-speed manual transmission for the LS trim.