Mitsubishi Outlander GT

Written By nyit on Friday, April 15, 2011 | 3:33 AM

My, Mitsu, what a big mouth you have.

All four different trim levels of the compact Outlander sports utility vehicle share what the company calls “fresh and aggressive styling,” basically a squared-off version of a classic Korean War-era F-86 Sabre Jet nose intake. The rest – not so fresh. But what’s inside reminds some of another Mitsubishi we love.

Can some EVO be instilled in an Outlander? Let’s see.

*Outlander outside – One friend says the grill looks “very Audi-ish.” Chrome-trimmed, the big squared-off intake and the angry eyed headlights that flank it also look like a Battlestar Galactica Cylon robot face, with a blacked-out bumper bar. Chrome and black-trimmed foglights are in the outer bumper edges, while a faux under-nose brush guard rounds out the rest. The hood gets a bolder power dome that flows off the nose shape. The GT adds a more distinctive chrome-accented black door sill between flat-edged flares that frame 7-spoke wheels with Goodyear Eagle rubber. Mitsubishi claims the fenders, rear quarter panel fascia, door mirrors, headlamps, side sill extensions and front mesh grille are new designs. If so, it’s a slight redesign. The rest – the rising beltline, reverse-angle D pillar, wrap-around tinted rear window over chrome-accented LED taillights over a black underbumper design with twin chrome pipes – looks like the last-generation Outlander.

Whatever, it looks sporty enough coming down the road, with a fairly wide stance that only looks more SUV-ish as it passes. Smart move to match the EVO/Lancer look up front.

*Outlander outfitting – My first test of the current-generation Lancer impressed me inside, mainly because of the level of 21st Century compatibility – what a Blackberry-toting, iPod-packing person would want in mobile infotainment. The 2010 Outlander GT does the same, with a touch of upscale.

The GT gets heated black leather seats up front with 8-way power adjustments for the driver, although it’s a bit flat and wide. I like the synthetic black leather on the dashboard and upper front and rear door trims, with contrasting white stitching. The inset gauges are clear, classic white on black with orange needles framing a color LCD trip computer/S-AWC all-wheel-drive indicator display. The leather-wrapped tilt steering wheel gets stereo, cruise and Bluetooth cellphone buttons. Buff alloy plastic frames a wide central touch screen that accesses a powerful 710-watt, 9-speaker rockford-fosgate AM-FM-Sirius Satellite sound system with USB and MP3 audio inputs and a 40-GB hard drive that serves the navigation system and Real-Time Traffic, plus records tons of music.Bluetooth audio can be streamed from your cellphone too. It’s a clean design, the screen folding down to access a CD player, and its all voice activated. Below that, a simple three-dial climate control system with a deep hard plastic storage area and 12-volt power outlet, plus cup holder. Two more cup holders are aft of the gearshift and S-AWC knob (more later.) Our GT had appropriate aluminum brake and gas pedal too.

Based on a compact Lancer, the rear seat is OK in leg room, but only if slid back the available three inches. There is decent head room for two adults, who sit high in raised seats. Those seats do a 60/40 split and fold and tumble forward with one touch to access 36.2 cu. ft. of space. Surprising for a compact SUV, there’s a third row of twin pop-up/pull-up seats - lightweight stretched fabric over frames with tall skinny fold-up head restraints that block rearward vision. Crawl back there, and it’s very tight knees-up room for two adults sitting almost on the floor – not recommended for even kids and uncomfortable to boot. Plus one of you lives with a thumping 10-inch sub-woofer that can shake the mirrors at full throttle. Third row up, there’s still a 14.9-cu.-ft. storage well behind. But wait, there’s more – the Outlander gets a unique two-piece rear hatch with a bottom tailgate that opens flush with the floor for easier loading, and can also handle up to 440 pounds of tailgating sitters.

*Outlander octane – New Outlanders get two engine choices depending on trim level - ES and SE have a 2.4-liter, 168-hp four, while the XLS and our GT have a 230-hp V-6, 10 hp more than the last version. With a 6-speed Sportronic automatic with magnesium paddle shifters and on-road-biased Super-All Wheel Control (S-AWC), we launched to 60-mph in a quick 7.4 seconds, the front wheels briefly chirping before all four grabbed. The exhaust note is a bit agricultural, but there’s a nice boost in power mid-range. Good news - Idle-Neutral Logic automatically selects neutral at stop lights to conserve fuel, and we never noticed it working. Bad news – it didn’t seem to help, averaging 18-mpg in mixed use driving. And we had some wind and tire noise at speed.

With a rigid unibody structure, lightweight aluminum roof and front suspension strut tower bars for more rigidity, plus a rear multilink suspension and decent Goodyear Eagles tires, there’s some good stuff here. One screen on the gauge package’s trip computer shows which wheels get the torque in turns, the S-AWC’s electronically controlled center differential shifting power from front to rear, and left to right to the front wheels with an active differential. The S-AWC console knob’s “Tarmac” setting handles regular dry or wet pavement, with a “Snow” setting that gentles the front and center differential’s transmittal of power. You can also lock the diffs for off road action.

The ride is on the firm side, but comfortable for around-town use and nowhere near an EVO. Toss it into a turn and it works pretty well despite body roll, where there’s some understeer before the all-wheel-drive redirects. Push harder and there’s more understeer, period – not so EVO. Turn off stability control and you can feel the rears and the outside front helping, but it is not a lot of fun. We took it onto some grass and dirt trails with a few inclines, and the Outlander remained sure-footed. In fact, this is a passably sporty crossover in regular or slightly spirited driving. The steering has a precise feel. And the disc brakes have a good pedal feel with reassuring action and no fade. That said, a RAV4 with V-6 or the new VW Tiguan feel more nimble, with better ride and handling at the limit, as does the Subaru Forester with turbocharged 224-hp four. For safety, the Outlander has dual-stage front air bags, front seat-mounted side-impact air bags and side curtain air bags.

*Mitsu money – The GT’s base is $29,250, with all above standard except the $3,000 leather and navigation package with reverse camera. A Forester 2.5XT costs about the same as the Outlander GT, a RAV4 or Tiguan a bit less.

*Bottom line – The styling update results in the most distinctive crossover nose outside of an Audi; the rest looks OK, but like last year’s. Inside, definitely an improvement in looks and tech content, with a kicking audio system and decent fit and finish. As for sportiness, there’s sharp steering, a nice suspension and a quick if growly engine, but other crossovers out there feel better for the same or less cash. Now, if Mitsubishi would install a version of the 291-hp turbo four from the EVO for a real GT SUV with less nose weight, the ultimate Outlander GT might be sportier, more fun and more fuel-efficient.

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2010 Mitsubishi Outlander GT

Standard Active Stability Control, Traction Control, Anti-Lock Brakes with Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD), air conditioning, cabin air filter, cruise control, power windows/locks/mirrors, engine immobilizer and anti-theft alarm, keyless entry and ignition, 710-watt, 9-speaker rockford-fosgate sound system with 10-inch, digital signal processor, 3-band equalization and speed compensated volume, FUSE Hands-free Link System with Bluetooth hands-free calling and streaming music, USB connection for iPod® and MP3 player interfacing, voice-activated music or phone commands, leather seating, power drivers seat, heated front seats, xenon HID headlights, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and 40-gigabyte HDD navigation system with music server, Real-Time Traffic and rear view camera. A 10-year/100,000 mile powertrain limited warranty and 5-year/60,000 mile new vehicle limited warranty.

Statistics:

Vehicle type - 7-passenger compact sports utility vehicle

Base price - $29,250($32,990 as tested)

Engine type - SOHC 24-valve V-6

Displacement - 3-liter

Horsepower (net) - 230 @ 6,250 rpm

Torque (lb-ft) - 215 @ 3,750 rpm

Transmission - 6-speed Sportronic w/paddle shifters

Wheelbase - 105.1 inches

Overall length - 183.7 inches

Overall width - 70.9 inches

Height - 66.1 inches

Front headroom - 40.3 inches w/sunroof

Front legroom - 41.6 inches

Center headroom - 37.5 inches

Center legroom - 36.8 inches

Rear headroom - 35.4 inches

Rear legroom - 27.7 inches

Cargo capacity - 14.9 cu.ft./36.2 with rear seats flat/72.6 w/2nd and 3rd row folded

Towing capacity - up to 3,500 lbs.

Curb weight - 3,780 lbs.

Fuel capacity - 15.8 gallons

Mileage rating - 18-mpg city/24-mpg highway

Last word - Jet fighter nose update gives it panache, and can be sporty and sure-footed

By Dan Scanlan
MyCarData


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