Three Outlander trim levels can be had with front-wheel drive: the base ES, midlevel SE, and top XLS. A driver-selectable multi-mode 4-wheel-drive system is also available, with a convenient switch located on the dash that allows drivers to go from 2WD to 4WD auto or 4WD locked at a 50/50 torque split.
Two engines are available. The ES and SE trims sport a 2.4L I4 engine that produces 168 horsepower and 167 lb-ft of torque. The XLS trim upgrade to a 3.0L V6 that makes 220 horsepower and 204 lb-ft. All three models are paired with a 6-speed Sportronic automatic transmission while the SE and XLS models are equipped with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters.
The Outlander is particularly versatile. All three trims come with 100.4 cubic feet of passenger volume The ES seats five adults, while the SE and XLS adds seating for two children in a diminutive third row. All three trims have 39 cubic feet of cargo space in back. With all seats folded there is 72.6 cubic feet of cargo space to use for toting gear.
A nice touch is the 2-piece tailgate. The hatch pops open as expected, but leaves a short section still vertical. Fold this down and you have a "cargo extender" that will support 440-pounds. A hard plastic surface with cargo rails molded into both the tailgate and cargo deck make it easy to slide new purchases into and out of the Outlander.
Safety is built in with standard curtain and side-impact air bags for both the front and second row supplementing the front air bags. Active front headrests help to reduce injuries in rear-end crashes, and standard active skid control helps keep the vehicle pointed in the right direction. The brakes are all discs with ABS standard.
Some of the available Options that come with the 2009 Outlander are Power glass sunroof, FAST (Freehand Advanced Security Transmitter) key, 115V power outlet and 13 storage compartments, 6 CD/MP3 player, Rockford Fosgate premium audio system with nine speakers including an integrated, enclosed 10-inch rear subwoofer, 30-gig GPS and footlights.
The sporty leather steering wheel available on the XLS offers controls for the audio, cruise control, and even a button to engage your Bluetooth-enabled cell phone. We like the use of faux brushed aluminum trim on the wheel, dash, and side panels.
The ES and SE achieves 20 MPG city and 25 MPG highway, while the LXS is rated at 17 MPG city and 25 MPG highway