Vehicle Highlights

The 2008 Mitsubishi Outlander adds a 4-cylinder engine and new trim level to its lineup. This compact crossover comes in ES, LS, new-for-2008 SE, and XLS trims, each with a choice of front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. Outlander's AWD system can be set for front-drive only, for AWD, and for a locked-in 50/50 front/rear power split. ES and SE versions have a 168-hp 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine and a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). LS and XLS have a 220-hp 3.0-liter V6 and a 6-speed automatic. Available safety features include ABS, traction control, antiskid system, curtain side airbags, and front side airbags. ES, LS, and SE seat five. XLS seats up to seven via a 3rd-row bench that folds into a well in the cargo floor. All models are available with a navigation system that includes a 30-gigabyte hard drive for storing digital music files.

Consumer Guide Automotive places each vehicle into one of 18 classes based on size, price, and market position. Among utility vehicles, Compact SUVs are typically the least costly and offer the best fuel economy. Most utilize a car-type chassis and are not designed for heavy-duty, off-road use. Nearly all are five-passenger vehicles; some offer seating for seven.

Our Best Buys are the Honda CR-V and Suzuki Grand Vitara. Our Recommended picks are the Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sportage, Saturn Vue, and Toyota RAV4.

New or significantly redesigned models include the Jeep Liberty, Mazda Tribute, Nissan Rogue, and Saturn Vue.