2011 Mitsubishi Outlander GT S-AWC review: 2011 Mitsubishi Outlander GT S-AWC

It's difficult to tell from photos, but the Outlander's third-row seat is not a pleasant place to be.

Once nestled into the third row, we assessed our situation. The base of the seat only sits a few inches above the floor of the rear area, and with so little leg room, our knees were all but folded into our chests. Perhaps a small child would fare better in such cramped quarters, but unless you really dislike the person, never attempt to cram an adult back there, let alone two. Regardless of who gets stuck in the third row, you should be careful due to their proximity to a particular bit of the Outlander GT's cabin tech package.

Technology that hits like a hammer
Our Outlander GT's cabin technology package is built around a Rockford Fosgate premium audio rig that, in turn, is built around a massive subwoofer designed to knock the fillings from your teeth. This 10-inch beast lives in the rear storage area and gets the lion's share of 710 watts divided among the nine speakers in the cabin. The subwoofer's placement puts it at kidney level with any passenger unlucky enough to be crammed into the wretched third row, adding insult to the injury of discomfort.

Despite being located in the rear hatch, the 10-inch Rockford Fosgate subwoofer is the center of the Outlander GT's cabin tech package.

The audio output has a predictably bass-heavy quality that can easily drown out the mids and highs. Your enjoyment of the sound will depend heavily on your taste in music. Hip-hop fans and lovers of bass-heavy rock will be overjoyed by the pounding bass that can be heard upward of a block away from the Outlander GT. Those who prefer more delicate passages may also be able to draw some enjoyment from this system, but doing so will take much tweaking of the Rockford Fosgate receiver's EQ and other audio settings. Just go ahead and knock that Punch setting all the way down to about -4. In addition to the EQ, the system also offers sound-stage presets that add environmental effects to the audio, and music genre presets that supposedly optimize the sound for different types of music. For a system as bass-heavy as this one, we were surprised not to find a hip-hop/rap preset.

Available audio sources include USB/iPod connectivity, a single-disc CD player, AM/FM/satellite radio, and an odd auxiliary audio/video input that uses RCA connections rather than the 3.5mm connections we're used to seeing. There's also a 40GB HDD with a Music Box partition for storing ripped audio.

When connected to an iPod using a 30-pin dock connector that you'll have to supply yourself, the receiver also enables you to queue music with a voice command through a feature called Mitsubishi Fuse. Simply hit the voice command button and tell the system what you want to hear (for example, "Play artist 'The Black Keys'" or "Play song 'Tighten Up'") and the system will attempt to find the song or playlist that you've requested.

Mitsubishi Fuse also extends its voice commands to hands-free calls, meaning you can press a button and say, "Call Tom Jones" find a contact stored in the Mitsubishi's phonebook and initiate a call. The Bluetooth hands-free calling features automatic address book sync, so its phonebook will be automatically populated with your friends, family, and coworkers almost immediately after you pair a supported phone. Bluetooth audio streaming is also part of the available audio sources, when paired with a compatible handset or A2DP-enabled portable media player.

The navigation system also takes advantage of the 40GB hard drive to store maps and POI data and takes advantage of FM-band RDS-TMC data for traffic. We ran into the same hitches that we did with the Outlander Sport's navigation system, which features menu hierarchies that are very unintuitive and interface elements that seem haphazardly placed. For example, the Audio button switches between the current audio source and the map on the display. If you want to access your address book, that menu is hidden beyond a press of the Info button. You'll want to make sure that you're parked before diving into the Outlander's interface, because it's got a pretty steep learning curve.

Mitsubishi's hard-drive-based navigation system lacks a few bells and whistles, but got us where we needed to be without problems.

In sum
The Mitsubishi Outlander GT is quite an odd bird. While it likely has the most sophisticated all-wheel-drive system in its class (which includes the likes of the Hyundai Santa Fe, Toyota RAV4, and Nissan Murano), its V-6 engine is one of the least powerful. Mitsubishi makes up for its lack of engine power with a solid cabin technology package and a Rockford Fosgate system that's probably got a better power-to-weight ratio than the Jeep Compass, but even then the most compelling reason to consider the Outlander GT over the competition is its price.

Basing at $27,795, our Outlander GT came with $4,700 in optional equipment. First up is the Touring package that adds heated leather seats, the 710-watt Rockford Fosgate spine-rattler, satellite radio, and a power sunroof for $2,700. We also had the $2,000 navigation option which adds the 40GB HDD-based navigation system with the Jukebox audio-ripping feature, a rearview camera, and an auxiliary video input. Add a $780 destination charge and you'll be looking at $33,275. At that price, the closest competitor is the 2011 Hyundai Santa Fe, which is a more powerful and efficient ride, but doesn't come near to matching the Outlander's S-AWC.

Mitsubishi's S-AWC system even allowed us to have a bit of off-road fun.

Tech specs
Model 2011 Mitsubishi Outlander
Power train 3.0-liter V-6, 6-speed Sportronic automatic transmission, S-AWC all-wheel drive
EPA fuel economy 19 city, 25 highway mpg
Observed fuel economy 22.3 mpg
Navigation 40GB HDD-based with traffic
Bluetooth phone support Basic voice command, phonebook sync
Disc player CD/ MP3
MP3 player support Analog RCA auxiliary input, USB/iPod connection
Other digital audio Bluetooth stereo streaming, HDD-based Jukebox, optional satellite radio
Audio system 710-watt 9-speaker Rockford Fosgate with 10-inch subwoofer
Driver aids Optional rearview camera
Base price $27,795
Price as tested $33,275

What you'll pay

Pricing is currently unavailable.

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