Riding the coattails of the, the 2010 Mitsubishi Outlander GT promises superior handling and performance in a midsize SUV. And although it sports the same big, jet fighter grille and an advanced all-wheel-drive system, it doesn't quite measure up to the ferocity of its rally-bred little brother, or to high-power SUVs such as the or .
Instead, the Outlander GT fits a niche occupied by the. It works as a light SUV that can handle slippery conditions very well. Unlike its Subaru competition, the Outlander GT offers advanced, if unrefined, cabin tech features that compare well with models from much larger automakers.
It has the same five-passenger-plus-cargo interior room capacity as other crossover/SUVs on the market, but the exterior looks smaller. The large grille gives it an unconventional appearance, and contoured and curved lines more resemble sports car styling language than any sort of truck heritage. Doing away with a flat cargo floor maximizes space in the rear, but also makes unloading a bit more difficult.
The only factory option for the Outlander GT is the $3,000 Navigation and Leather package, which brings a hard-drive-based navigation system into the dash and wraps the seats in leather. The navigation system enhances the stereo with onboard music storage on the hard drive, but the Outlander GT boasts an advanced stereo system even without the navigation option.
Standard in the Outlander GT is what Mitsubishi calls Fuse, an iPod adaptor and Bluetooth phone system with voice command comparable to Ford's Sync system. We plugged an iPod into the console-mounted USB port, and after Fuse scanned the music library, we were able to verbally request music by artist, album, genre, or song name.
We asked for music from new bands, such as Blitzen Trapper, and tried older artist names, requesting David Bowie, for example. Each time, the system unerringly recognized and played our choice. More impressive, we had edited the album name for a set of songs, creating our own custom album name. Fuse even recognized and played this custom album name.
Fuse also encompasses the Outlander GT's Bluetooth-streaming audio and phone system. We paired an iPhone to the system, and it downloaded the phone's contact list, making it available on the phone menu screen. Likewise, we were able to play music from the iPhone through the Bluetooth connection to the car's audio system.
The Rockford Fosgate audio system offers Punch as one of its settings.
Like Fuse, another standard feature in the Outlander GT is the Rockford Fosgate audio system. Among its nine speakers is a 10-inch subwoofer mounted in the cargo area, which gets power from a 710-watt amp and delivers outstanding bass. We tested the system with heavy bass tracks that shake the door panels off of lesser cars, but in the Outlander GT the heaviest drum strikes and electronically manufactured low frequencies came through with no distortion and or rattle.
Higher frequencies and vocals fared reasonably well due to the high-powered amplification, but the response was not as high as for bass. Lighter tracks disappeared into the barrage of sound coming from the speakers, and vocals lacked emphasis.
Audio adjustments include the usual bass, treble, mid, balance, and fader, but Rockford Fosgate adds its own setting called Punch, a unique digital signal processor that pumps the sound a bit without distorting or raising the volume. Another Rockford Fosgate feature is sound fields, echo effects that simulate large and small halls, and a live performance.
Having the navigation option makes it easy to choose music from an attached iPod or satellite radio, or change the audio settings using the touch screen. Using a hard drive to store its maps, this navigation system performs route calculations and responds to destination inputs quickly. Its most advanced feature is traffic data integration, which it uses to dynamically adjust routing to avoid major incidents.
Besides showing traffic information, this navigation system has few advanced features.
But the navigation system does not have much else going for it. The maps are strictly 2D, and it reads out road names only for numbered highways and freeways. One feature we liked was its capability to direct us to HOV lanes.
Given the navigation system's LCD, we were surprised to find that a rear view camera system was not available, something that would be of great benefit in this vehicle. The Outlander GT lacks other driver assistance options, too, such as blind-spot detection.
Super All Wheel Control
Mitsubishi does not favor big, high-displacement engines, which is why the Outlander GT gets a 3-liter V-6 using Mitsubishi's MIVEC variable-valve timing. Although not as efficient as newer, direct-injection engines, this V-6 provides more-than-adequate power for the Outlander GT. Two-hundred and thirty horsepower and 215 pound-feet of torque may not sound like much, but when we stepped on the gas the car accelerated smartly.
But that engine does not justify the GT trim name, as the Outlander XLS gets the same power plant. Lesser-trim Outlanders get a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine.
To enhance the sporting impression of the Outlander GT, paddle shifters stick out from the steering wheel column. The six-speed automatic transmission those shifters control is nothing special, though. It does have a manual mode, but shifts are slow, with standard torque-converter mushiness.
The GT trim level is the only version of the Outlander with the Super All Wheel Control system.
The main reason for the GT moniker is this car's all-wheel-drive system, which Mitsubishi calls Super All Wheel Control. Unlike the all-wheel-drive systems on other Outlander models, the GT version gets an electronically controlled center differential and an active front differential. With this system, torque gets distributed front to back and across the two front wheels, as needed. The driver can select different all-wheel-drive modes with a knob on the console, choosing from Tarmac, Snow, and Lock.
We set the car up with its right wheels on dry pavement and the left wheels on a wet skidpad. Putting the car into Snow mode, we stomped on the gas to accelerate the car off the skidpad. It maintained steady forward movement even as the left wheels spun on the slippery pad, accelerating evenly.
Although we were impressed with how it handled this exercise (and it should retain good grip on wet roads), we didn't have as much confidence in the car while slinging it around curvy roads at speed. Taking into a turn, we felt the high center of gravity of the Outlander GT, which tempered our speed.
Built on the same platform as the Lancer Evolution, the conventional suspension nonetheless leaned too much for comfort. The Outlander GT is reasonably good in the turns, about equivalent to the, but does not reach the level of something like the .
During city and freeway driving, the Outlander GT felt quite capable. It showed the right amount of comfort for its price, damping out potholes and rough pavement reasonably well. We liked that it felt less bulky than other SUVs when maneuvering through crowded city streets. And despite the automatic transmission, a hill start feature helped on San Francisco's steep streets.
The Outlander GT was in its natural element in the mountains.
The Outlander GT seemed like a good choice for a recreational vehicle. During one drive, we covered a hundred miles of back-country roads, a twisty, single-lane track along the side of a spectacular mountain valley. The high seating position helped when squeezing to the side of the road with a steep cliff to our right, while letting oncoming traffic get by.
Fuel economy for the Outlander GT, at 18 mpg city and 24 mpg highway, is reasonable, given the carrying capacity of the vehicle. Our observed mileage of 19.8 mpg was nearer the bottom of the range, despite some considerable time spent on freeways.
Although Ford debuted its Sync system a few years ago, few car companies have matched its voice-controlled MP3 player feature. The 2010 Mitsubishi Outlander GT, however, offers this functionality, along with a very powerful audio system. Mitsubishi also squeezes a decent navigation and Bluetooth phone system into the cabin tech. Missing are driver assistance features such as a rear view camera or blind-spot detection.
The GT in this model's name suggests performance, but most of the Outlander GT's components are only average. The engine is a good size for the car, but not particularly sporty, and the transmission's only claim to modernity is its six gears. Still, the all-wheel-drive system really gives the Outlander GT an edge on slippery stuff.
With its big grille, the Outlander GT looks unique, while its contoured body lines keep its appearance modern, unlike the boxy SUVs of the past. The onscreen cabin tech design is more functional than pretty.
|Model||2010 Mitsubishi Outlander|
|Power train||3-liter V-6, 6 speed automatic|
|EPA fuel economy||18 mpg city/24 mpg highway|
|Observed fuel economy||19.8 mpg|
|Navigation||Hard drive-based with traffic|
|Bluetooth phone support||Standard|
|Disc player||MP3 compatible CD/DVD player|
|MP3 player support||iPod integration|
|Other digital audio||Onboard hard drive, USB drive, Bluetooth audio streaming, satellite radio, auxiliary input|
|Audio system||Rockford Fosgate 710 watt 9 speaker system|
|Price as tested||$33,030|