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In last week’s article about fuel efficient SUVs we talked about Nissan Juke and Mazda CX-5. Mazda proved to be a bit better buy, although younger buyers might opt for Nissan instead due to its modern design and Mazda’s unimaginative features. Today we are here to talk about two more, one of them hybrid, the other not. Japanese companies are very present on lists of this kind, and it often seems that this is not just a matter of sales for them, but a matter of prestige as well. So, today we have two more Asian manufacturers here, but well known and sold all over the world. The first one is Mitsubishi with its Outlander Sport, and the second one is very highly regarded Toyota Highlander Hybrid. Now these two cars are very different and some would say that this will be unfair, but people forget that everything goes with a price tag, so seeing if you are willing to splurge almost double amount of money for Toyota or just stick with fairly surprisingly good for the money Mitsubishi is your decision only.

 

Mitsubishi Outlander Sport

Design

Mitsubishi SUV - Front view

Mitsubishi Outlander Sport Front view

This is the smallest five-seating SUV from Mitsubishi and it is a smaller version of standard Outlander with seven seats, but this doesn’t mean that it is small. This is restyled model for the year 2013, but it is not very easy to spot the changes. Still, they are there. The fog lights are a bit different and bumpers are now black instead of whatever colour the entire car used to be. The easiest to spot difference have to be the wheels, since they are now 18-inch units instead of 16-inch ones the previous version had. But, there is a reason why there are so little changes.

Gray Mitsubishi SUV - Front side view

Mitsubishi Outlander Sport seen in Gray here

The previous model looked quite good. Headlights look great and the grille combined with the headlights reminds us that this car comes from the same place some a lot sportier models come from. The back is not as well thought about as the front, but it would be a mistake to say that it looks ugly or bad in any way. When looked at from the side, the eyes are drawn towards the ascending line that coincides well with smaller windows in the back. This car looks good and a lot better at the front. Sunroof is a special treat.

Light Blue Mitsubishi SUV side view

Mitsubishi Outlander Sport seen in light blue here

Interior

interior view of the mitsubishi outlander

The interior of the Outlander

Although this is smaller version of Outlander it is not small. There is room for five fully grown people and their stay in the car is reasonably pleasant. The front windows are wide and the car is bright when looking at the front. Smaller windows in the back reduce this feeling, but it is still ok. Rear seats split 60/40 and there is enough room for luggage as well as for all five passengers. Still, the driver’s position is the best. The instruments are visible and well designed, all the switches are easy to find and operate, with tilt steering wheel with audio controls and voice activated phone and iPod controls. The multimedia screen is large and well placed. There are also loads of airbags including side curtain airbags for all passengers and a driver knee airbag.

view of the interior from the back of the Mitsubishi Outlander

Mitsubishi Outlander offers a spacious Interior

Under the hood

The engine is 2.0l four-cylinder 148 hp with manual or automatic transmission. It is not very easy to understand why the manual has only 5 gears, but it does work rather well. As an option you can take CVT with paddle shifters. The drive is front-wheel with the option of a four-wheel and with hill start assist.

Fuel consumption

So it is not a hybrid, but the downsize brought it a serious improvement in mpg. It is said to be 24-25 pg in the city and 30-31 mpg on the highway, which is just about one mpg worse than with Nissan Juke and this is a lot bigger car, so it’s just great.

 

Toyota Highlander Hybrid

Design

Gray Toyota SUV in motion

2013 Toyota Highlander seen in gray here

It is big. Really big, compared to the other cars here so far, and it can seat up to 7 people in three rows and that is remarkable for a fuel efficient SUV. The hybrid model also has some stylistic changes to help you discern it from the standard model. The new model features a backup camera, fog lights, a Display Audio System and new easy-clean fabric for the upholstery.

Gray Toyota SUV seen from the side

Side view of the 2013 Toyota Highlander

Depending on the trim level, you can get 17-inch wheels or 19-inch ones. It is 188.4 inches long and that makes it the biggest car on our tests so far, but till one of the smallest seven seaters. It is not as design conscious as Juke is, but this is a lot bigger car and this makes it more practical. We can’t really say it’s beautiful. It’s a bit more rectangular than other cars here, the front is nothing remarkable, but the back gives you that massive feel a real SUV should have.

Interior

Trunk open with a view of the interior of a Toyota SUV

The interior offers mixed reviews

The third row is something we need to acknowledge. If you have the need for 7 seats and you worry about fuel consumption, look no further since this is the car for you. The third row folds into a 50/50 split and the second row has a removable middle seat and numerous other options for the remaining two seats so the interior is really versatile. With the two rear rows of seats folded the cargo space amounts to amazing 95.4 cubic feet, but with all seats up it is only 10.3 cubic feet, and this is not really respectable. Air conditioning is standard, but there is also optional three-zone automatic air conditioning, optional touch-screen navigation system, and very fun optional rear entertainment system.

Toyota SUV interior view

Luxurious interior of the Toyota Highlander

The driver’s position is good, everything is at hand and easy to use, instruments are big enough and well designed, cup holders are accessible and the whole cabin looks, feels and is big and bright. You also get side impact and side curtain airbags and a driver’s knee airbag.

Side view of the toyota SUV

“X-Ray” view from the side

Under the hood

There are two options for engine-2.7 l four-cylinder with 187 hp and 186 lb-ft of torque and 3.5 l V6 with 270 hp and 248 lb-ft of torque. Both models are front-wheel but with V6 you can opt for all-wheel. Automatic transmission is standard as well as antilock brakes and electronic stability system.

Fuel consumption

It is a bit worse than that of the other cars here, but just a bit. And you get so much more from its large and versatile interior and strong engines. It is surprising that such a powerful car returns 28 mpg both in the city and on the highway. Just great for Toyota.
So, Toyota is a lot better than Mitsubishi but it also costs almost double as much. It is a lot bigger, with great engines and 7 seats, but on the other hand, for its price Mitsubishi offers a lot too. This duel basically comes down to your needs.

 


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