2010 Mitsubishi Outlander 3.0 GT S-AWD

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

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