SAN FRANCISCO – Design trends come and go, but engineers for Mitsubishi Motors North America Inc. say the ’07 Outlander cross/utility will stay fresh for years – at least to the nostrils.

Mitsubishi is trying out a new headliner with an additive intended to diffuse offensive car smells.

The headliner, itself, doesn’t emit a fresh aroma but includes a layer of “TripleFresh,” a compound that chemically absorbs and neutralizes offensive smells.

Japan-based supplier, Suminoe Textile, makes TripleFresh mainly for carpeting, curtains and building materials. But recently it has expanded its reach to the auto market.

“It basically eats up any foul odors,” Don Sims, general manager at Mitsubishi’s Design Studio in Cypress, CA, says of the headliner during a press event here.

The new Outlander goes on sale in November, with the base model starting at about $20,000, although the Japanese auto maker is not yet announcing specific pricing. The company also declines to detail sales and production estimates.

Sims says he isn’t sure how long the headliner will fight offensive scents – the vehicle is, after all, designed for families with children. But a vehicle engineer here says the compound will degrade over time.

Buyers will have their choice of front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. Mitsubishi managers expect demand in the U.S. initially will skew toward FWD versions.

A 3.0L SOHC V-6 is the only powerplant available for U.S. buyers, however Ward’s learns a 4 cyl. version will be available for the ’09 model.

scanderson@wardsauto.com