Jones Ford Buckeye Compares 2012 Ford Explorer VS 2012 Mitsubishi Outlander Near Phoenix, AZ

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2012 Ford Explorer

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2012 Mitsubishi Outlander

Safety Comparison

The middle row seatbelts optional on the Explorer XLT/Limited inflate when a collision is detected, helping to spread crash forces over a much larger area of the body and limiting head and neck movement. This can help prevent spinal and internal injuries. The Outlander doesn’t offer inflatable seatbelts.

The Explorer Limited offers an optional collision warning system, which detects an impending crash through forward mounted sensors and flashes a bright light and sounds a loud, distinctive tone to warn the driver to brake or maneuver immediately to avoid a collision. The system also pre-charges the brakes to begin deceleration more quickly. The Outlander doesn't offer a collision warning system.

When descending a steep, off-road slope, the Explorer 4WD’s standard Hill Descent Control allows you to creep down safely. The Outlander doesn’t offer Hill Descent Control.

The Explorer XLT/Limited’s optional blind spot warning system uses digital cameras monitored by computer to alert the driver to moving objects in the vehicle’s blind spots where the side view mirrors don’t reveal them. The Outlander doesn’t offer a system to reveal objects in the driver's blind spots.

To help make backing safer, the Explorer XLT/Limited’s optional cross-path warning system uses wide-angle radar in the rear bumper to alert the driver to vehicles approaching from the side, helping the driver avoid collisions. The Outlander doesn’t offer a cross-path warning system.

Compared to metal, the Explorer’s plastic fuel tank can withstand harder, more intrusive impacts without leaking; this decreases the possibility of fire. The Mitsubishi Outlander has a metal gas tank.

The Explorer (except Base) offers optional SYNC, which uses a global positioning satellite (GPS) receiver and a cellular system to get turn-by-turn driving directions or send emergency personnel to the scene if any airbags deploy. The Outlander doesn’t offer a GPS response system, only a navigation computer with no live response for emergencies, so if you’re involved in an accident and you’re incapacitated help may not come as quickly.

Both the Explorer and the Outlander have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, head airbags, front wheel drive, height adjustable front shoulder belts, four wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding and available all wheel drive.

The Ford Explorer weighs 723 to 1347 pounds more than the Mitsubishi Outlander. The NHTSA advises that heavier vehicles are much safer in collisions than their significantly lighter counterparts.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety ( IIHS) performs roof strength tests. In that test the Explorer earned the top rating of “Good” because its roof supported over four times the Explorer’s weight before being crushed five inches. The Outlander was rated lower at “Acceptable.”

For its top level performance in frontal, side, rear impact and roof-crush tests, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rates the Explorer as a “Top Pick” for 2012, a rating only granted to 120 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Outlander was not a “Top Pick.”

Warranty Comparison

The Explorer’s corrosion warranty is unlimited miles longer than the Outlander’s (unlimited vs. 100,000 miles).

There are almost 7 times as many Ford dealers as there are Mitsubishi dealers, which makes it much easier to get service under the Explorer’s warranty.

Reliability Comparison

To reliably power the ignition and other systems and to recharge the battery, the Explorer has a standard 175 amp alternator (200 amp - Explorer XLT/Limited). The Outlander’s standard 130 amp alternator and largest (V6) 120 amp alternator aren’t as powerful.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2011 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Ford vehicles are better in initial quality than Mitsubishi vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Ford 23rd in initial quality. With 17 more problems per 100 vehicles, Mitsubishi is ranked 30th.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2011 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Ford vehicles are more reliable than Mitsubishi vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Ford 12th in reliability, above the industry average. With 46 more problems per 100 vehicles, Mitsubishi is ranked 27th.

Engine Comparison

The Explorer’s optional 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 72 more horsepower (240 vs. 168) and 103 lbs.-ft. more torque (270 vs. 167) than the Outlander ES/SE’s standard 2.4 DOHC 4 cyl. The Explorer’s 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 10 more horsepower (240 vs. 230) and 55 lbs.-ft. more torque (270 vs. 215) than the Outlander GT’s standard 3.0 SOHC V6. The Explorer’s standard 3.5 DOHC V6 produces 60 more horsepower (290 vs. 230) and 40 lbs.-ft. more torque (255 vs. 215) than the Outlander GT’s standard 3.0 SOHC V6.

For more instantaneous acceleration and better engine flexibility in any gear, the Explorer’s engines produce their peak torque at lower RPM’s than the Outlander:


Explorer 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

1750 RPM

Explorer 3.5 DOHC V6

4000 RPM

Outlander ES/SE 2.4 DOHC 4 cyl.

4100 RPM

Outlander GT 3.0 SOHC V6

3750 RPM

Fuel Economy and Range Comparison

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Ford Explorer uses regular unleaded gasoline. The Outlander GT requires premium for maximum efficiency, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

The Explorer has 2.8 gallons more fuel capacity than the Outlander AWC’s standard fuel tank (18.6 vs. 15.8 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups. The Explorer has 2 gallons more fuel capacity than the Outlander FWD’s standard fuel tank (18.6 vs. 16.6 gallons).

The Explorer has a standard cap-less fueling system. The fuel filler is automatically opened when the fuel nozzle is inserted and automatically closed when it’s removed. This eliminates the need to unscrew and replace the cap and it reduces fuel evaporation, which causes pollution. The Outlander doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.

Brakes and Stopping Comparison

For better stopping power the Explorer’s brake rotors are larger than those on the Outlander:



Front Rotors

12.8 inches

11.6 inches

Rear Rotors

13 inches

11.9 inches

The Explorer’s brakes have 30% more swept area (the area covered by the brake pads) than the Outlander (549.1 vs. 424 square inches), so the Explorer has more braking power available.

In an emergency stopping situation, many drivers don’t press the brakes with enough force to stop the vehicle in the shortest distance. The Explorer has a standard brake assist system to detect emergency braking situations (by how hard and how quickly the brake pedal is pressed) and then automatically apply maximum braking immediately in order to help prevent a collision. The Outlander doesn’t offer a brake assist feature.

The Explorer stops shorter than the Outlander:



70 to 0 MPH

174 feet

178 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

119 feet

128 feet

Motor Trend

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

145 feet

148 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels Comparison

For better traction, the Explorer has larger standard tires than the Outlander (245/65R17 vs. 215/70R16). The Explorer’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Outlander (255/50R20 vs. 225/55R18).

The Explorer’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 65 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Outlander’s standard 70 series tires. The Explorer’s optional tires have a lower 50 series profile than the Outlander SE/GT’s 55 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Explorer has standard 17 inch wheels. Smaller 16 inch wheels are standard on the Outlander. The Explorer’s optional 20 inch wheels are larger than the 18 inch wheels on the Outlander SE/GT.

Suspension and Handling Comparison

The Explorer has standard front and rear gas-charged shocks for better control over choppy roads. The Outlander’s suspension doesn’t offer gas-charged shocks.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Explorer’s wheelbase is 7.5 inches longer than on the Outlander (112.6 inches vs. 105.1 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Explorer is 6.4 inches wider in the front and 6.4 inches wider in the rear than on the Outlander.

The Explorer Limited 4WD handles at .81 G’s, while the Outlander GT AWC pulls only .76 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The Explorer Limited 4WD executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver quicker than the Outlander GT AWC (27.4 seconds @ .61 average G’s vs. 28 seconds @ .59 average G’s).

Chassis Comparison

As tested by Car and Driver, the interior of the Explorer Limited 4WD is quieter than the Outlander GT AWC:



At idle

35 dB

41 dB


75 dB

75 dB

70 MPH Cruising

68 dB

72 dB

Passenger Space Comparison

The Explorer has 51.3 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Outlander (151.7 vs. 100.4).

The Explorer has 1.1 inches more front headroom, 5.1 inches more front hip room, 4.9 inches more front shoulder room, 2.2 inches more rear headroom, .2 inches more rear legroom, 4.8 inches more rear hip room, 4.9 inches more rear shoulder room, 2.4 inches more third row headroom, 5.5 inches more third row legroom, 1.6 inches more third row hip room and 1 inch more third row shoulder room than the Outlander.

The Explorer offers an optional rear tailgate seat that can be flipped rearward and used for tailgate picnics. (Do not use seat reversed while vehicle in motion.) The Outlander doesn’t offer a rear tailgate seat.

Cargo Capacity Comparison

The Explorer’s cargo area provides more volume than the Outlander.



Behind Third Seat

21 cubic feet

14.9 cubic feet

Third Seat Folded

43.8 cubic feet


Third Seat Removed


36.2 cubic feet

Second Seat Folded

80.7 cubic feet

72.6 cubic feet

The Explorer’s cargo area is larger than the Outlander’s in almost every dimension:



Length to seat (3rd/2nd/1st)



Max Width



Min Width






Pressing a switch automatically lowers or raises the Explorer Limited’s optional third row seats, to make changing between cargo and passengers easier. The Outlander doesn’t offer automatic folding seats.

The Explorer’s liftgate lifts up in one piece, completely out of the way of loading and unloading, while sheltering the cargo loading area. The Outlander’s tailgate’s top part raises up, but the bottom part lowers, getting in the way of loading and making an uneven surface for sliding cargo.

To make loading and unloading groceries and cargo easier, especially for short adults or children, the Explorer XLT/Limited offers an optional power rear liftgate, which opens and closes completely automatically by pressing a button on the key fob. The Outlander doesn’t offer a power tailgate.

Ergonomics Comparison

The engine computer on the Explorer automatically engages the starter until the car starts with one twist of the key and disables the starter while the engine is running. The Outlander’s starter can be accidentally engaged while the engine is running, making a grinding noise and possibly damaging the starter and ring gear.

To help each driver find a more comfortable driving position, the Explorer has a telescoping steering wheel. Much better than just a tilt steering wheel or adjustable seat, this allows a short driver to sit further from the steering wheel while maintaining contact with the pedals. The Outlander doesn’t offer a telescoping steering wheel.

When three different drivers share the Explorer Limited, the memory system makes it convenient for all three. Each keyless remote activates different, customized memories for the driver’s seat position, foot pedal distance and outside mirror angle. The Outlander doesn’t offer a memory system.

The Explorer Limited’s standard easy entry system glides the driver’s seat back when the door is unlocked or the ignition is switched off, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. The Outlander doesn’t offer an easy entry system.

The power windows standard on both the Explorer and the Outlander have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the Explorer is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The Outlander prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.

The Explorer XLT/Limited’s front power windows open fully with one touch of the switches, and the driver’s window also automatically closes, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The Outlander’s passenger windows don’t open or close automatically.

In case you lock your keys in your vehicle, or don’t have them with you, you can let yourself in using the Explorer XLT/Limited’s exterior keypad. The Outlander doesn’t offer an exterior keypad entry system.

The Outlander’s standard power locks don’t automatically lock the doors. The Explorer’s standard doors lock when a certain speed is reached. This is an important feature for occupant safety. Locked doors are proven to open less often in collisions, and they are also effective in preventing crime at traffic lights. (The power lock’s automatic feature may have to be activated by your dealer.)

The Explorer’s standard speed-sensitive wipers speed up when the vehicle does, so that the driver doesn’t have to continually adjust the speed of the wipers. The Outlander ES/SE’s standard manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

To improve rear visibility by keeping the rear window clear, the Explorer has a standard rear variable intermittent wiper with a full on position. The rear wiper standard on the Outlander only has an intermittent setting, so in a hard rain visibility isn’t as good.

To shield the driver and front passenger’s vision over a larger portion of the windshield and side windows, the Explorer has standard extendable sun visors. The Outlander doesn’t offer extendable visors.

The Explorer’s optional rear view mirror has an automatic dimming feature. This mirror can be set to automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on it, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Outlander doesn’t offer the luxury of an automatic dimming rear view mirror.

The Explorer Limited’s optional air conditioned front seats cool the driver and front passenger and help take the sting out of hot leather in Summer. The Outlander doesn’t offer air conditioned front seats.

The Explorer (except Base)’s optional dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. The Outlander doesn’t offer dual zone air conditioning.

Both the Explorer and the Outlander offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the Explorer has standard rear air conditioning vents to keep rear occupants cool in summer or warm in winter. The Outlander doesn’t offer rear air conditioning vents, only heat vents.

To keep a safe, consistent following distance, the Explorer Limited offers an optional Adaptive Cruise Control, which alters the speed of the vehicle without driver intervention. This allows the driver to use cruise control more safely without constantly having to disengage it when approaching slower traffic. The Outlander doesn’t offer an adaptive cruise control.

The Explorer Limited’s optional Active Park Assist can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The Outlander doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Economic Advantages Comparison

The Explorer will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The Intellichoice estimates that the Explorer will retain 46.93% to 48.92% of its original price after five years, while the Outlander only retains 35.82% to 42.2%.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Explorer is less expensive to operate than the Outlander because typical repairs cost much less on the Explorer than the Outlander, including $46 less for front brake pads, $387 less for a starter, $305 less for fuel injection, $14 less for front struts and $404 less for a power steering pump.

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