2011 Mitsubishi Outlander

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2010 Mitsubishi Outlander — Review

This 2010 review is representative of model years 2010 to 2015.
By James Tate of MSN Autos
Rating: 8.5

Bottom Line:

Mitsubishi is keen on showing that its refreshed Outlander is good for more than hauling groceries. After putting the CUV through its paces on a frozen rally stage, we wholeheartedly agree.
Pros:
  • Unstoppable electronic S-AWC system
  • More refined interior
  • Fuse media system
Cons:
  • Still plenty of cheap plastic onboard in lower trims
  • New nose design isn't for everyone
  • Brake system doesn't match performance

View Pictures:  2010 Mitsubishi Outlander

The crossover-utility vehicle market is filled with front-wheel-drive, high-riding wagons posing as legitimate off-road wonders. If you're someone who wants a serious all-wheel-drive weapon with plenty of space for your gear but doesn't want a gas-guzzling truck, your options are sorely limited — or at least they were. The 2010 Mitsubishi Outlander GT has the off-road mettle you need to take on Mother Nature's bad side and save some money while doing it.

Model Lineup
Mitsubishi will let you choose from four trim levels: ES, SE, XLS and GT. While you can have the first three with either front-wheel drive or four-wheel drive, the GT is the only version that uses the company's high-tech, electronic, S-AWC full-time all-wheel-drive system. The ES trim serves up 16-inch steel wheels with covers and a slew of standard tech: a 6-speaker stereo, remote keyless entry, cruise control and the like all come standard.

SE trim trades those steel wheels for more attractive 18-inch machined alloy rollers, and buyers also get treated to a set of sportier cloth-wrapped seats. Mitsubishi throws in its passive key system on SE, XLS and GT-trim Outlanders, too.

If you're gunning for the ultimate in go-anywhere luxury from Mitsubishi, the XLS is your choice. Along with a rain-sensing windshield wiper system and automatic climate control, the interior gets sport seats with leather bolsters. The effect is a big upscale move from an otherwise low-bucks CUV.

Of course, if you're looking for the crème de la crème of the Outlander lineup, look no further than the GT, which affords you amenities such as xenon HID headlights, a sizable sunroof and excellent leather seats. It starts at $29,250.

Under the Hood
The biggest differences among these trim levels are, of course, the drive setups. While the ES and SE get their power from an efficient 2.4-liter 4-cylinder gasoline engine coupled to a continuously variable transmission, XLS and GT Outlanders make use of a 3.0-liter V6 engine and a 6-speed automatic transmission. The 4-cylinder engine delivers 168 horsepower and 167 lb-ft of torque — solid numbers that help the lower-rung trims keep their head above water against rivals from Toyota and Honda. Two-wheel-drive versions offer up a pretty respectable 27 mpg highway, though that figure drops to 25 mpg highway when you go for the four-wheel-drive option.

Surprisingly enough, compared with the 4-cylinder, the V6 has considerably more power without putting a huge dent in fuel economy. With 250 horsepower and 215 lb-ft of torque, XLS and GT iterations are noticeably more capable on- or off-road, and with up to 25 mpg highway, we can't see any reason to go for the four-pot.

Inner Space
Historically, Mitsubishi hasn't provided consumers with world-class interiors. But if the 2010 Outlander is any indication, we would say that's about to change. The company has obviously put some serious thought into updating the Outlander's cabin, and the result is impressive. In GT trim, the dash is one vast expanse of well-stitched leather that's both nice to the touch and easy on the eyes. It's a welcome change from the hard plastics of the outgoing model, and it makes the Outlander feel more expensive than it really is.

The changes go deeper than some leather trim, though. Little details all over the cabin have been revised to make the interior more pleasant. From the GT's solid-feeling shift paddles mounted on the steering column to the gorgeous aluminum accelerator and brake pedals, it's hard to drum up a complaint.

GT and XLS trim vehicles also get enough slick technology to make Steve Jobs quiver in his sneakers. Along with that fancy hands-free entry system, buyers can brag to their friends about a ridiculous infotainment array, complete with Bluetooth connectivity and a media management system that Mitsubishi calls Fuse. Like Ford's Sync, it allows you to pick your audio poison just by saying a song title or artist out loud. Very clever and very cool.

On the Road
We'd love to be able to tell you exactly what the 2010 Mitsubishi Outlander is like to drive on a day-to-day basis, but unfortunately we can't. That is, unless you live north of the Arctic Circle. Mitsubishi had us out to a frozen road used for rally racing to show off the CUV's remarkable all-wheel-drive system, and while we can say without hesitation that this thing has the mechanical chops to take on the very worst that Mother Nature can throw your way, we have little idea what it's like to pilot in normal driving conditions. Sorry.

The 3.0-liter V6 seems to have plenty of torque on hand, and it's easy to spot a well-judged steering rack, even in the snow. Using the S-AWC selector on the center console, you can set the center differential any way you'd like, ranging from fully locked four-wheel drive to purely front-wheel drive.

Right for You?
These days there's no shortage of quality CUVs from which to choose. But while most of the offerings seem to be geared more for mall runs than dashes through the snow, the 2010 Mitsubishi Outlander is available with a seriously capable all-wheel-drive system. The Outlander starts at $21,605, but the price tag quickly ratchets up to more than $30,000 for the top-of-the-line GT. That puts the CUV in line with the Honda CR-V and Toyota Rav4. But given the Outlander's off-road capability, its prime rival is the Subaru Forester, which starts at $20,295. If you're looking for an alternative to Subaru's line of all-wheel-drive granola-mobiles, the Outlander would be a good place to start.

(As part of an automaker-sponsored press event, Mitsubishi provided MSN with travel and accommodations tofacilitate this report.)

James Tate cut his teeth in the business as a race team crew member before moving to the editorial side asSenior Editor of Sport Compact Car, and his work has appeared in Popular Mechanics, Automobile, Motor Trend and European Car. When not writing, Tate is usually fantasizing about a vintage Porsche 911.

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BB04 - 9/15/2014 7:58:11 PM