The Mitsubishi Outlander has been called outdated and outclassed by some consumer magazines. This might be true from a technical view, but I can give you five good reasons to buy one anyway. First, this is a Japanese-brand vehicle that is actually made in Japan, at the Okazaki factory. This explains the excellent quality control.

Secondly, the federal crash ratings are mostly 5-star, so those concerned about safety will be comfortable here. Third, there is the 10-year/100,000-mile warranty on the drivetrain and five-year/60,000-mile on the rest of the SUV.

Moving along, this is one of the few SUVs near the base $25,695 price that offer three-row seating for seven passengers. And while this Outlander is slightly outdated, it has proven to be one of the more reliable vehicles on the road, so owners might not need that 10-year warranty!

The Outlander is one of the few inexpensive SUVs that still offers optional V6 power, a 224-horsepower unit. This test rig has the base 2.4 four-cylinder at 166 horsepower and rated at 24 mpg city, and 29 highway with the optional all-wheel drive. Sadly, this is hooked to a lame CVT transmission that hampers acceleration, but we did get 28/32 mpg on highway trips.

This Outlander is priced at $30K, which is reasonable for a seven-passenger SUV. Our only complaint was with the lousy sun visors that do not slide, thus do not do a good job blocking out the sun from side windows. This can be fixed after purchase.

For those who want a more modern SUV, the Ford Edge might work. Those who desire performance as well will be happy with this ST version. This replaces the little four-cylinder engine with a potent 2.7-liter EcoBoost cranking out a healthy 335 horsepower. Also included are 21-inch alloy wheels, performance tires, stronger brakes, loud exhaust and other goodies. This jumps the price from $30K base to $43K. But most Edge STs will come loaded with every luxury item available, so this explains our total tab of $52K!

On the street, this ST is fun to drive. That turbo engine is quick enough, and handling or braking chores are no challenge. The fuel economy is listed at 19/26 mpg. We got 16/25 in spirited commuting. The only drawback is the lack of a spare tire. Since this is all-wheel drive, a spare would have to be the same huge size as the four on the vehicle, and a spare would be too big to fit anywhere.

This means that going off road to play in the dirt is not a good idea. This is a street machine only. Fortunately, the dealers are giving big discounts on these ST models, so they might be worth checking out.

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Chad Haire, of Phoenix, test-drives vehicles for this feature.

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