Sure this city girl moved to the ‘burbs and had a baby, but she isn’t buying a mini-van. Never gonna happen.
It’s happening. We moved deep into the suburbs. We have a cat that we carry around like a baby. We shop at Home Depot more than the grocery store. And now we have an actual baby to carry around. Somewhere my former career-girl-in-the-city self is shaking her head. We are so not cool anymore. The one thing I’ve been holding on to is that I’m still driving a car and not a minivan. That was cool in my eyes—until we got home from Babies R Us with an enormous stroller, a car seat, a play yard, a portable high chair…oh that list goes on.
Listen, I’m a fan of only taking what you need. After many trips to Grandma’s house, we know what we can leave home. But sometimes you just have to pack everything. Recently, my husband and I decided to take a weeklong road trip with the baby up through Wisconsin, across the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and back down along the Lake Michigan lakeshore. When you are packing for a week with two adults and a baby who will encounter everything from national forests to beaches to white tablecloth restaurants, you need stuff. A lot of stuff. I knew I needed to upgrade from my little car. But I didn’t want to prove my suburban mom stereotype right by giving in to the world of minivans. Sure, minivans are great for some people, but not for me.
Then the 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander GT S-AWC arrived in my driveway. What I saw was a gorgeous, sleek, chromed-out crossover utility vehicle. It came with a popup third row, all kinds of cool technology features, second row cup holders to fit my hazelnut lattes, and a pretty impressive V6 engine. And the AWC stands for All Wheel Control – Mitsubishi’s four-wheel drive system. I didn’t feel embarrassed in this one. I felt like we should maybe ditch the Hiawatha National Forest and go cruising down Main Street.
All the technology helps this tired Mama sit back and cruise – worry free
The Outlander has some pretty great automatic features and upgrades that made our long road trip smooth sailing. I particularly loved the Lane Departure Warning and Adaptive Cruise Control. The LDW beeps at you if you get too close to the edge of your lane. For us mamas (and dads) who are up super late at night feeding babies, it’s pretty great to have something that beeps at you if you get groggy and forget yourself (but seriously, if you’re really groggy, pull over). The Adaptive Cruise Control allowed us to set a speed but also set a distance from the car in front of us. (In other words, if someone pulls in front of you, it will stay that many car lengths away; if they turn off, your car will hop back up to the speed you set.) As we wove in and out of three-lane highways and tight one-laners, this was super handy for keeping our speed consistent and our distance safe.
Oh but it gets even easier, folks. The side mirrors auto-fold when you turn the car on and off—so you never have to worry about someone dinging your car at Walmart.
The back hatch opens on its own at just the push of a button—so you don’t have to figure out how to strong-arm it while holding the baby and propping up the stroller.
And the key fob (which already makes it easy to open/close) can just stay in your pocket—so long as you have it on you, you can open the car from a button on the door and start the car from a button on the dash. People. It doesn’t get easier than that. I have a screaming baby. I need easy.
Top Marks for Affordability and Safety but Needs Improvement When it Comes to Space
At a price of $35,195 with all the bells and whistles, the Outlander is a great value (base price is $30,995 for the GT, and you can get an Outlander for as low as $22,995 if you forego the V6 engine and some of the upgrades). That makes it one of the 10 most affordable three-row vehicles, according to Kelly Blue Book.
It also gets top marks for safety. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave it a “Top Safety Pick+” rating, the highest it can give. That rating was based on features that make it less likely to be damaged in a crash such as roof strength, head restraints, and front crash prevention.
To be honest, I would’ve hugged the back of the vehicle and not let the manufacturer have it back…if it weren’t for the space. We were thinking a crossover would have much more trunk room than my car. Unfortunately, things were tight for a week with a baby. With the car seat in the second row, my husband’s legs were sometimes nudging the dash in the passenger seat. The trunk didn’t offer a lot of room, compared to my car.
And third row is tight–but the Outlander is one of the few crossovers that has fit a third row into the vehicle, and it’s a great option if you need it on occasion.
Oh, Outlander. If I could stretch you out another foot or two, we could be besties and shop at Home Depot together every weekend. I miss you though, you pretty thing. My car looks so uncomfortable now. And it requires me to actually use a key.
What we loved
- GT Touring package (which included the Lane Departure Warning and Adaptive Cruise Control)
- Automatic mirrors and hatch plus push to start
- GPS with touchscreen
- Groove in the middle console to keep your phone charging cord in place (details!)
- Comfortable seats with warmers
- Loads of safety features
What you need to know
- Base price: $30,995; price for the model we drove, with GT Touring package, $35,195
- Warranty: 5 years/60,000 miles up to 10 years/100,000 miles
- Engine: 224-hp 3.0 liter V6 MIVEC
- 20 miles per gallon in the city, 27 on the highway; 23 combined
- Tight (fold-down) third row
- Slightly tinted back windows but bring your sun shade for baby
- Rockford Fosgate subwoofer with serious bass (baby ears, beware)
Do you have an infant or toddler? What do you want in your next vehicle?