Mitsubishi puts NVH in 2016 Outlander's crosshairs

  • 29-Jun-2015 11:02 EDT
Mitsu2016Outlander_SF-02.jpg

All-new sheet metal from the windshield forward and more than 100 enhancements define the 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander, a crossover utility vehicle that has received the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's Top Safety Pick+ each year since the 2014MY.


Two years after the third-generation Mitsubishi Outlander arrived in the U.S. market, the crossover utility vehicle was revised for the 2016 MY with new signature front-end styling and 100-plus engineering and design changes.

“It was very clear to us that (certain) things, like exterior styling and drivability, [were] below the competitive standard, [and] had to be changed very quickly,” Ken Konieczka, Vice President of Sales at Mitsubishi Motors North America (MMNA), said at a recent San Francisco, CA, media ride and drive program for the 2016 Outlander.

The latest Outlander is the first MMNA vehicle to showcase the front fascia Dynamic Shield styling, and many of the seven-passenger, three-seating-row vehicle’s technical modifications are aimed at refining the driving experience. For instance, the next-generation CVT (continuously variable transmission) reduces the transmission torque loss by 26%, effectively improving the amount of power transferred to the wheels.

This new CVT-8 and a recalibration of the transmission ECU elicit improvements in both the standing start and passing acceleration. In all-wheel-drive models equipped with the 2.4-L four-cylinder engine and CVT, 0 to 60 mph (97 km/h) acceleration improved by 1 s, going from 11.2 to 10.2 s.

Mitsubishi’s CVT-8 debuted in the U.S. on the 2015 Outlander Sport equipped with the 2.0-L four-cylinder engine. On the 2016 Outlander, the new CVT has a gear spread from 2.631: to 0.378:1 and a final drive ratio of 6.026:1. Outlander’s previous CVT had a gear spread from 2.349: to 0.394:1 and a final drive ratio of 6.466:1.

Ride and handling modifications were made to the MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear suspension. Those changes include front suspension crossmember reinforcement, front shock absorber re-tuning, rear suspension spring rate and damping changes, as well as larger shock absorbers in the rear. The re-programming of the electric power steering also helps improve the 2016 vehicle’s ride and handling.

Outlander’s suspension, engine and transmission cradles, body panels, side mirrors, windshield, and rear glass were the source points for 31 noise-reduction solutions.

According to Melvyn Bautista, MMNA’s Product Strategy Manager, the various sound-absorbing techniques were undertaken based on comments from U.S. customers, JD Power Initial Quality Survey results, and third-party static and dynamic vehicle evaluations.

The noise reduction crusade even had engineers from Japan placing microphones throughout the current generation Outlander’s suspension. “Six hours a day for weeks they drove the vehicle back and forth over a rough residential street near MMNA’s Cypress (CA) headquarters to get data and come up with solutions to minimize the wind and road noise going into the cabin,” Bautista said in an interview with Automotive Engineering.

Noise reduction is notable in the low-frequency range. For instance, compared to the 2015 Outlander, the 2016 vehicle’s front center noise was reduced from 64.1 to 60.8 dB in the 10-500 Hz frequency range.

The 105.1-in (2670-mm) wheelbase Outlander’s new offerings include LED headlamps, LED running lamps, LED taillamps, power folding side mirrors, and a windshield wiper de-icer. “It’s an all-new feature for MMNA,” said Bautista, “An electric heater element, located underneath where the wipers sit, helps prevent the windshield wipers from sticking in the park position.”

Outlander is available with the 166-hp (124-kW) four-cylinder engine mated to the CVT or a 224-hp (167-kW) 3.0-L V6 engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. The four-cylinder-powered front-wheel-drive model has EPA mpg ratings of 25 city/31 highway, while the AWD version’s mpg is 24 city/29 highway. The V6-powered AWD model has mpg ratings of 20 city/27 highway.

The 2016 Outlander goes on sale in July 2015 with a MSRP of $22,995 for the base FWD model.

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