Starting to shop for cars. Replacing my mini van

I have driven a mini van for much of my adult life. I have three children and a mini van just makes sense. I couldn't even imagine my three kids sitting together, side by side in a bench in the back of my car.  I make no excuses and don't apologize at all about my choice of vehicle. In fact, I don't understand why there are so many people who are hesitate to jump on the mini van train.  I even wrote a post about it. They are simply the most practical car for a large family.
That being said, my mini van that I love and have named Thelma {you name your cars too don't you?} is older than my youngest son who will turn ten in just a few weeks. While I fully plan on driving my sweet Thelma into the ground, the end is {potentially} near and I want to be prepared with a plan of action should Thelma decided to bite the dust sooner rather than later.
My children are all getting older. Every single one of them can buckle their seat belts and none of them needs a car seat. In fact, several of my kids can even sit in the front seat safely. One of them can even legally drive a car! We don't need to be looking into vehicles that are using terms like tethers and rear facing. I may even be able to start looking beyond mini van's and thinking about an SUV. 
For the next few months, I'm going to be trying out some cars in an attempt to find the best fit for our family. A lot has changed since I last bought a car.  Cars are so much more technical and there are features that are brand spankin' new to me {adaptive cruise control...heck, even navigation systems!}. Because I care very little about a car beyond how easy it is to drive and work, my 16 year old son Aidan will be writing a little bit about the car discussing those features.
I'm going to do my best to put every car I test through the wringer to give you the best information and my honest opinion.  This month, the whole family took the Mitsubishi Outlander up to Mt. Rainier for a day trip and a hike. 
Find out how we liked this SUV crossover for our family of five.

Aidan here. As she rightly stated above, my mother has no interest in cars outside of A) does it drive alright, B) can all of her offspring fit inside in such a way that touching is minimized, and C) can her garage sale acquisitions fit inside without any weeping and gnashing of teeth. This set of standards becomes apparent when her shouts of glee for a 2015 Odyssey vastly outweigh those for whatever exotic car I'm excited for zooms past because "the new Odysseys have built in vacuums don't-you-know". The big question now is "does the Mitsubishi Outlander GT meet these standards". By and large, the answer is yes.

In terms of the boring mechanical stuff, the Outlander GT's engineers "have much to be proud of" {Car and Driver}. This is an especially good thing because it means you probably won't have to decide between your kid's tuition or your car's transmission.

The car, thanks to pleasant Japanese men in lab coats, is pretty quiet while driving and isn't completely drab. Don't get me wrong, the car isn't exactly sporty, but at least if you go for a pass {as we frequently had to do as Washington drivers are incredibly slow} you can be reasonably confident that you won't be testing out the five star front collision safety rating. The model my family had for the week was the model with the v6 engine {must have}. Not only does the v6 allow for you to be reasonably confident that the car will go when told, it is the only model that doesn't come with a wretched Continuous Variable Transmission, a "transmission" famous for never actually working. {one very good reason not to go near a car with a CVT}.

There are other pretty nice driving features that you can {and should} select as well, like a blind spot monitor or a Lane Departure Warning sensor that warns you if you veer out of your lane by accident. My mom turned off the LDW because it was "annoying" {it turns out that she just is unable to stay in her lane. Perhaps, as I suggested, leaving it on would make her a better driver}. The paddle shifters are another great feature to have because, unlike in most cars, the car actually shifts gears promptly when told. That seems like a given but shockingly many other car companies seem unable to make paddle shifters that succeed at their only given task.

One of the best things about this car is its cost in relation to other cars in its class. The model we had {the Outlander GT with Touring package} was just over 34 grand, but the base model is only $23,000 {$28,000 if you get the v6 GT with all wheel drive}. This may be a lot if your income {like mine} is determined by how many of your neighbors you can convince to hire you to mow their lawns, but if you're serious about getting an SUV for your family {for your sake read this before you make that decision }, the Outlander GT is probably the cheapest option.

Sure, if you're feeling especially sybaritic you could buy a Range Rover Evoque with all of its insane off road capabilities {for all those wild treks across various grassy knolls to your child's soccer game} and an interior {much thanks to Victoria Beckham} that is comparable to that of a Maybach, but you'll set yourself back 100 grand easily. Even if you don't make the class jump from a family SUV to a luxury SUV, the Outlander is the only car of its 11 close competitors to not be in the $40-$50,000 range when fully furnished.

There are, however, some things that are honestly not as great about this car. The third row "seating" was deplorable and could not really be used unless you slid the middle seats far forward thus making it more uncomfortable for the middle seat passengers creating a loop of cramped leg room and likely misery for said passengers. Then there was the navigation system which {unless you really want to see a map while you're driving} could easily have its job taken by Apple Maps on your phone {which is saying something}.

The problem with not getting the navigation is that {to my knowledge at least} you can't get the exemplary sound system {and I do mean exemplary, I've never heard that good of a sound system come with a car before} without also getting the navigation as well which seems to me like just an extra expense. Also, the automatic tail gate is cool but very slow.

These three relatively small problems though are vastly outweighed by the huge amount of good in this car. The technology inside is easy to figure out {though that's coming from the mouth of a youth so perhaps it should be taken with a grain of salt} and is super customizable so that you can get the car to work for you, and the aforementioned Japanese men in lab coats designed a car that you can buy with the knowledge that it will last mechanically as well.

The Mitsubishi Outlander GT is a good car. It's not just good because of its cost in comparison to other cars like it, it's good simply because it is a good car. The car is certainly not just any car that you can buy, it is a well thought out machine that will last a long time and be exciting the whole time. Should you happen to be in the market for a car, I would recommend that you make your way to a dealer to check one of these out.

Thanks Aidan! I think he did a great job wrapping up the essentials of this car don't you?!  I told you we were going to put this car through the wringer and knowing that a new car purchase is one of the biggest ticket purchases you are going to make, we want to make sure we are helping you make an informed decision.

The Outlander is certainly a car to add to your list to consider if you are looking for an SUV. I think it would be the perfect car for the first time buyer in their early 20's {you heard about the great sound system} and would last them well into the first few years of parenthood.  It would also be great for the older couple who only occasionally takes passengers but likes the room and presence on the road that an SUV provides. For our growing family of five though, it just didn't provide the interior room we needed to be comfortable.  I loved driving it and would highly recommend it.

Stay tuned for our next car review.  Aidan and I will be heading to Walla Walla, Washington to a concert festival and will be reviewing a Mazda 6.  Zoom Zoom!
To read other car reviews
Mazda 6
Kia Sedona
{and Aidan, though I don't have that sweet script thing to go with my name}

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