Mitsubishi shows off its new corporate face on the 2016 Outlander

The 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander is trying to do a lot with a little.

Debuting at the 2015 New York Auto Show, the new Outlander is a mid-cycle refresh of the current model, not a full redesign.

Yet Mitsubishi is counting on it to launch its new, lineup-wide design language and, perhaps, propel it back into the mainstream.

That design language has been previewed on numerous concept cars over the past year, especially the Outlander PHEV Concept-S that’s almost identical in appearance to the production model.

The biggest changes are at the front, where the Outlander’s new face features slimmed-down headlights (available in all-LED form), and a two section grille framed by two twisted girders.

That configuration is supposed to reference the beefy bumpers of the old Mitsubishi Montero, one of the original family-friendly SUVs.

Unlike the Montero, though, the Outlander is still a car-based crossover with no off-road ability to speak of.

Two powertrain choices include a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 166 horsepower and 124 pound-feet of torque, and a 3.0-liter V6 with 224 hp and 215 lb-ft.

Front-wheel drive is standard, with all-wheel drive optional. Buyers also get to choose between two automatic transmissions: a six-speed unit with paddle shifters and a gear-less CVT.

However, there’s still no official word on the U.S. launch date for the Outlander Plug-In Hybrid, which is already on sale in Europe and Japan.

In addition to the new styling, Mitsubishi claims it’s made over 100 engineering and design improvements to the 2016 Outlander, although most of these are relatively small changes aimed at combatting the dreaded trinity of noise, vibration, and harshness.

They include everything from thicker glass, extra sound insulation, and retuned electric power steering to new weather stripping. Mitsubishi is really grasping at straws here.

The 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander goes on sale this summer, and while it’s unclear if they’ll get its upgraded weather stripping, the company says this crossover’s new styling will be “applied consistently” across the Mitsubishi lineup.

Is this the making of a comeback? Or is styling simply not enough to elevate a brand that’s already been so marginalized?

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