I know this sounds like the petulant whine of a performance junkie, but why do Mitsubishi’s high-performance Lancers (Ralliart/Evo) get supremely advanced, powerful four-cylinders while the Outlander is stuck with this asthmatic 3.0-liter V-6? Step on the gas, and you hear it furiously pumping air, but don’t get a commensurate push in the back.
The interior, which is largely shared with the Lancer, isn’t luxurious by any means but is serviceable nonetheless. Everything is laid out logically and attractively, though the navigation and radio buttons are a bit difficult to use at first. What I can’t understand is why Mitsubishi decided to jam an improvised third row into the back. For the marginal ability to carry kids around on very short trips – there’s NO WAY an adult’s fitting back there – the lawn chair-like seats exact a considerable NVH penalty, rattling and creaking over every bump.
Having said all that, I want to like the Outlander a lot: It’s a pretty good value, is genuinely attractive, and looks a lot like one of my favorite cars in the world, the Evo. Add to that a very advanced all-wheel-drive system and the not unrelated ability to flit through back roads where the Subaru Outback wants to wet itself, and you have a crossover worthy of consideration.
David Zenlea, Assistant Editor
I’m not sure it’s the powertrain that lacks refinement (personally, I thought the six had adequate power and was fairly peppy), but the interior itself sure does. Mitsubishi was kind enough to add some soft, leathery touches here and there, but there are still plenty of hard plastic surfaces throughout the cabin. At least things are built rather solidly-the only persistent rattle I heard over bumps was the odd third-row jumpseat in its folded position.
David may want the crossover to handle like a Lancer Evolution, but at least it handles like a Lancer-overall, it feels rather agile, especially compared to other AWD compact crossovers. Sadly, I’m not sure the S-AWC system is calibrated quite right for the extra weight over the rear axle. With the V-6’s grunt, it’s all too easy to break the front wheels loose, creating a wave of torque steer and sending the traction control into a frenzy.
It may be an interesting package, but at this kind of money, I think Mitsubishi will have a hard time attracting buyers, let alone the Subaru Outback faithful.
Evan McCausland, Web Producer
Mitsubishi must cringe when non-Evo vehicles hit the press fleet and start racking up reviews. No matter what kind of vehicle the reviewer is driving, there’s always a mention of the Evo and how (insert product name here) can’t compare to the thrill of hustling an Evo down an empty road. Then it’s made the clear the only thing an Evo and the vehicle being reviewed have in common is a cheap interior.
I honestly wasn’t expecting much from the Outlander, which probably explains why I was so impressed with it. There’s perfectly adequate thrust from the 230-hp V-6 engine and the AWD system is certainly more sophisticated than anything else in this class, even if it isn’t quite as sharp as we’ve experienced in the Evo. Given the Continental winter rubber connecting this Outlander GT to the road, I was very pleased with steering feel and the overall handling characteristics given the incredible 50+ degree temperatures yesterday. Though it required some minor corrections to keep the vehicle on course through high speed turns, I expect that was due to the tires and the situation would be different with the stock all season rubber.
With an as-tested price near $33,000 it is a bit difficult to make a case for the Outlander GT as a great value, but some bargaining with a dealer would likely drop the transaction price. And what other small crossover will give you the S-AWC system Mitsubishi offers? It’s a shame Subaru gets all the AWD love since Mitsubishi generally offers a superior system.
Phil Floraday, Senior Online Editor
I drove the Mitsubishi Outlander GT at the launch in Palm Springs, CA last November and was fairly impressed with its on-road prowess. During the product presentation, Mitsubishi repeated more than a couple times that this updated GT version is gunning for SUVs like the Subaru Outback. Having driven both vehicles back-to-back now, I can say with no regrets that the Outlander GT is closer than ever to the Outback, but not quite close enough to persuade buyers to jump ship.
Why? For the price, the interior quality and refinement of the Outlander is not up to par with the Subaru. Granted the leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift lever are nice touches. But there are too many hard plastics around you, rattles coming from the back where a tiny, I mean tiny, 3rd row seat is; and the knob-less radio with push-button controls gets annoying. However, any vehicle noise you may hear can easily be muted by the 710-watt Rockford Fosgate audio system. Other impressive standard features include a moonroof and HID headlamps, neither come standard on the Outback.
Where the Outlander really gains ground to the Outback is on the road. Even with snow tires, the Outlander GT has far better steering response, overall handling, and feedback to the driver.
If Mitsubishi can find a way to get a better quality interior, it might have a good chance to steal some buyers.
Mike Ofiara, Road Test Coordinator
I’m on board with many of the comments previously mentioned, chiefly that Outlander GT’s all-wheel drive is excellent, and the engine is not so excellent. While not slow, the V-6 feels disconcertingly taxed and sounds unreasonably strained when revved high. However, the composure of the Outlander and high speeds and in turns just might outweigh the lack of refinement.
As Mike notes, Mitsubishi claims they’re aiming for the Subaru Outback, but by my book the Outlander is a unique entry that doesn’t need comparison. Its steering and handling capabilities are far above those of the Outback. That, to me, vaunts it well ahead of the soggy Subaru. The Outlander is also $1000 cheaper than an Outback Limited. Sure the interior isn’t as nice to touch, but it’s fine to look at.
Eric Tingwall, Associate Editor
2010 Mitsubishi Outlander 3.0 GT S-AWD
Base price (with destination): $29,990
Price as tested: $32,990
Active Front Differential
Hill Start Assist
Ultrasonic premium security alarm system
Fuse Hands-Free Link System
710W Rockford Fosgate premium audio system w/ 9 speakers & 10-inch subwoofer
AM/FM/6-CD/MP3/Sirius Satellite Radio
6-speed automatic transmission
Sportronic shift paddles
18-inch alloy wheels
Active Stability Control
Latch system for child seats
Four-wheel disc brakes with ABS
4-Wheel independent suspension
Automatic climate control w/ micron filter
Variable intermittent wipers
60/40 pplit/fold/tumble rear seats
Rear seat sliding/recline
Auxiliary audio input jacks
Options on this vehicle:
Navigation & Leather Package – $3000
– Leather seats
– Power & heated Front seats
– 40GB HDD Navigation system w/ music server & real-time traffic
– Auxiliary video input jack
Key options not on vehicle:
Rear-seat entertainment – $1847
Trailer hitch – $315
18 / 24 / 20 mpg
Size: 3.0L SOHC V-6
Horsepower: 230 hp @ 6250 rpm
Torque: 215 lb-ft @ 3750 rpm
6-Speed automatic w/ paddle shifters
Curb weight: 3780 lb
18-inch alloy wheels
235/50R18 Continental Cross Contact winter tires