Mitsubishi Outlander GT
From the Outlander's aggressive snout, new for 2010, it's clear that Mitsubishi wants to sell the sportiest crossover on the market. The gaping trapezoid grille is virtually identical to that of the rally-bred Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, and the Outlander makes a powerful impression when seen through a rear-view mirror.
Mitsubishi's unique contribution in this test is a third-row seat. Only Toyota's RAV4 offers seating for seven in a similar-sized package, and a small set of buyers will appreciate the Outlander's versatility. But to most, it's of dubious value. The first annoyance is the six-step process to raise the bench into position that requires a series of tugs, flips, and shoves that you need to relearn every time. Once it's in place, you'll be underwhelmed by the crude construction that shakes and rattles and a space that's only fit for kids who tell their age by holding up the fingers on one hand. Fortunately, the seat folds (with a different but equally cumbersome six-step process) and conceals neatly in a low and flat floor, causing no noticeable compromise to cargo room. Anyone who uses seven seats regularly should be shopping for larger, more accommodating third row.
Our test car was priced at $32,990, placing it in the middle of our comparison. Equipment-wise, the Mitsubishi sacrifices little to the Subaru that's about $2500 more expensive. The cabin reflects the sporting intentions with black and silver finishes. The navigation display is clear and well designed though our chief complaints are that surrounding physical controls aren't the most friendly and few of the dash materials are a bit cheap.