2014 Mitsubishi Outlander GT S-AWC
Power: 224 hp, 215 lb-ft.
Engine: 3.0L MIVEC SOHC 24-valve V6
Fuel Consumption: 23 combined MPG
Starting price: $27,795

The undeniably smooth Bobby Caldwell hit “What You Won’t Do For Love,” soundtracks Mitsubishi’s latest commercial spot. A gorgeous woman hops into a white crossover, drives from her suburban driveway through the night to a tranquil (probably) Chicago. Viewers are seduced by the sweet sounds, but eventually are left to wonder how the Japanese automaker became so resilient.

Redesigned for 2014, the all-new Outlander is proof that Mitsubishi won’t give up. The manufacturer has faced tough times in North America, ceasing sale of the Eclipse and Galant, but remains optimistic thanks to its family-friendly, seven-seater SUV. At the top of the line is the GT, equipped with a 3.0L V6 engine pushing 224 hp. Standard features also included a 6.1-inch touchscreen, heated seats, and an upscale trim. With touring package, a 710-watt Rockford Fosgate sound system is added, along with a sunroof and leather seating surfaces. In short: The 2014 Outlander GT offers what seem like competitive features.

This is the third generation of the vehicle. The overall appearance is more streamlined and the curb weight has been lowered. The car is not pretty, but it is kind of suave. While still a V6, the engine is just a touch less powerful than in the past (which is okay, ultimately, thanks to decreased weight). The car isn’t a spirited drive (as the GT designation might suggest), but it doesn’t frustrate either. The Outlander, as these notes suggest, lacks definable charisma. Yet, the Outlander does intrigue enough to inspire a search for its true character. Would it match the promise of “True Beauty?”

The 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander GT is a serviceable SUV. Acceleration, estimated by Motor Trend at about 7 seconds to 60mph, keeps pace on 95. Unsurprisingly, the car can hold a lot of stuff. Fold the seats down, and you can essentially fit enough flat-pack to furnish a small, NYC living space. The sound system also succeeds—it felt so right we felt the need to text our EiC that we were “driving around Uptown in a Mitsubishi, listening to N.O.R.E.” Because that’s what we did on the way home from New Haven. Because that’s what the Outlander GT inspired.

The sound system also succeeds—it felt so right we felt the need to text our EiC that we were “driving around Uptown in a Mitsubishi, listening to N.O.R.E.”

We tossed out all our desires to investigate contemporary character through the 6-speed transmission or new-school touchscreen infotainment, and let the old school appeal win out. The trim reminds of the Oldsmobile Bravada I drove in 1998. So does the Rockford system—especially when tested with a repeat cycle of “Banned From TV” and “Superthug.” Everything works, and nothing frustrates. The Outlander GT evokes a time when a whip was simply a conduit for bumping tunes. For us, that’s more Big Pun than Bobby Caldwell, more hip-hop than smooth soul.

After a full day behind the wheel, we reached an epiphany: Sometimes a new car is sort of awesome because it reminds of old, incredible times.

Sadly, cars aren't supposed to serve as mnemonic devices. The 2014 Outlander GT is a sound product, enough to give Mitsubishi a small foothold. Perhaps with more refinements, resilience will translate to real results.

Our advice? Hire a certain performer from Queens to headline the next advertisement.

Bottom line: What the 2014 Outlander GT lacks in “WOW” factor, it makes up for in nostalgic efficiency. Is that enough to tip the scale of success in the current market? Not quite.