2010 Mitsubishi Outlander GT — Review
By Evan Griffey of MSN Autos
Flaming red Mohawks, neon-hued leopard prints and bling-bling jewelry are great ways to shock the psyche and stand out in a crowd. Unfortunately, crossover segment contenders have to earn their reputations the old-fashioned way — by delivering substance. Getting noticed is no easy task in a category that is more crowded than a Tokyo commuter train during rush hour. Competition is picking up as new faces abound and the titans of the segment, the Honda CR-V and the Toyota RAV4, defend their high ground.
The Mitsubishi Outlander has been a perimeter player in the segment since its introduction less than a decade ago. However, the automaker hopes to thrust the small sport ute into the limelight in 2010. The all-new Outlander GT leads the charge, with a premium sport philosophy that merges style, luxury accents and connectivity into a fun-to-drive package.
Mitsubishi has priced the Outlander from $20,840 for the ES to $29,250 for the top-of-the-line GT. At $2,000, Mitsubishi's Premium Navigation and Leather Package is the only option on the Outlander GT order form. The package adds leather seats, a power driver's seat, heated front seats, a 40 GB hard-drive-based navigation system with music server and real-time traffic updates, Diamond Lane Guidance System (which can help guide you to high-occupancy vehicle lanes to reduce drive times), a rearview backup camera and auxiliary video input jack.
Under the Hood
A MIVEC-equipped V6 engine provides motivation for the sport-tuned Outlander GT as well as the XLS. The freshened 2010 edition of the 3.0-liter engine uses air-intake improvements and a jump in static compression ratio to bump output 10 ponies, from 220 to 230 horsepower at 6250 rpm. Low-end grunt registers 215 lb-ft of peak torque at 3750 rpm.
The Outlander GT's driveline can trace its origins to the Lancer Ralliart and Evolution models. Mitsubishi's Super-All Wheel Control (S-AWC) system combines an active front differential and an electronically controlled center differential to transmit power from front to rear and left to right to the front wheels, providing a more sure-footed demeanor in stormy driving conditions.
A dial just behind the shifter allows the driver to tailor the system to road conditions. The Tarmac setting delivers the best fuel efficiency and sportiest on-road grip. The S-AWC's Snow setting is designed to enhance stability in bad weather. And Lock produces more of a 4-wheel-drive effect for trail running.
A Sportronic automatic transmission is also a throwback to the Lancer Evolution line. Its six gears can be manually manipulated via magnesium paddles mounted behind the steering wheel.
Connectivity is becoming a key component in today's driving experience, and Mitsubishi has an innovative system in the Outlander. The Fuse Hands-free Link System is a Bluetooth 2.0-enabled device with advanced voice recognition for hands-free calling and wireless streaming of audio. USB connectivity has been incorporated into the Fuse system, allowing voice command of music by artist, genre, playlist or album through iPods or USB-enabled thumb drives. Fuse can link up to seven different phones and can access the phone's phonebook or a separate phonebook written to the hard drive.
A 710-watt Rockford-Fosgate audio system with SIRIUS Satellite Radio and an ultrasonic wave sensor-equipped security system are also standard on the Outlander GT. A 40 GB HDD navigation system with rearview camera is also available, which for 2010 now includes Real-Time Traffic (RDS) service with no monthly fees.
Other useful interior bells and whistles include a unique "flap-folding" tailgate and emergency third-row seating. The tailgate design eases access by lowering the cargo area's threshold, which makes loading heavy and/or bulky items as well as pets much more convenient. Emergency third-row seating is standard on XLS and GT trims and optional on ES and SE trims. It's small, even for kids, but does give the Outlander an added dimension.
On the Road
The 3.0-liter V6 engine does an ample job of motivating the 3,780-pound GT in most situations, but we were a bit underwhelmed with its onramp acceleration; the engine felt and sounded as if it was straining. Mitsubishi's Sportronic transmission, with its quick gear changes and rev-matching downshifts, is the key to an inspired driving experience. The revs can be held in check, extracting maximum performance when the situation dictates rapid-fire downshifts to ensure stability and maximum fun, especially when road signs announce twisty roads.
Right for You?
Evan Griffey served as an editor of Turbo & High Tech Performance, a pioneering publication about sport-compacttuning. Today Griffey freelances for Import Tuner, Sport Compact Car, Car Audio and Siphon.