Mitsubishi’s marketing is all about being different for a reason. With that in mind, it would make sense that its Outlander CUV would be different than the rest of the competition, now wouldn’t it? I spent a week to find out if the Outlander is truly different, and if so, is there a reason.
Let’s be frank, the exterior of the Outlander GT is a mess, but a hot mess in my eyes. The front clip looks like that of an enlarged Evo, or Lancer if you will. Though, it is slightly less aggressive. When standing directly next to the Outlander GT you’ll be surprised by two things: the huge front overhang residing in front of the wheels, and also the long hood.
Out back, two things stand out to me. The first is the taillights, these also have the downward slanted appearance that the Evo has, though that is where the similarities end. The second is how Japanese, and dare I say, Mitsubishi the rear end looks. Seriously, this rear end screams Mitsubishi to me, but in a very good way. The LED taillights and overall design work. I also love the two-piece tailgate similar in style to the first generation BMW X5. Very handy for loading large cargo into the rear end.
The sides are somewhat slab sided, but it works. The chrome trim that runs along window sills follows the glass up the C-pillar ending at the top. It is a nice touch, and helps finish the look.
When I said the exterior is a mess I meant it. The front is Evo with its big gaping mouth. The front clip ends up kind of looking tacked on. In reality the look works for me, but for many it won’t.
The interior was upgraded in 2010 with much nicer materials. The dash, along with the top of the door panels is covered in leather-like material. The Outlander features dual glove boxes. This allows you store all your stuff in an organized manner. The rear seats slide fore and aft, which is nice for adjusting leg room.
If you need to carry seven people the Outlander can handle the task. Though you’d have to truly hate the two people in the third row. That, or they need to be kids that pretty much have no legs. The third row folds out of the floor and is pretty sad. The headrests are either plastic or cardboard that is wrapped in cloth. Without question it is the sorriest third row I have ever seen.
The front seats are comfortable, but offer little in the way of bolstering. They are somewhat flatter than I expected. They feature a nice design in the center sections. Suede and leather trim the sides. I found it very odd that at $30k the seats were not power operated, but rather manually adjustable.
One thing that really made it hard to get comfortable was the lack of a telescoping steering wheel. In reality, at $30k in this class, a steering wheel that does not telescope is borderline unacceptable.
The powertrain in the Outlander GT is a 3.0-liter V6 that puts 230-horsepower and 215 lb-ft to all four wheels. The power is routed through a six-speed Sportronic transmission. You do have manual shift control both through the shifter as well as the metal paddle shifters that are mounted to the steering column. These are the same paddle shifters that are featured in the Evo.
The Outlander GT is no rocket, and in fact the V-6 produces somewhat disappointing numbers on paper. Driving the Outlander, you feel as if it has more power than it actually does. The engine and transmission definitely work together to make the most of the power. Above 3,500 RPM the engine almost sounds downright snarly. While you wont be racing to the soccer game, you’ll get there without having to worry about passing power.
A four cylinder model is available as well, though I’m not sure you would want it. The four cylinder all-wheel drive model is rated at 22/27 mpg while the V6 all-wheel drive model is rated at 19/25. You lose 3 mpg in the city and 2 on the highway for power that would be sorely missed. I saw an average of 19.5 mpg in mixed urban and suburban highway driving.
The GT features Mitsubishi’s Super All-Wheel Control (S-AWC) system. This is the same system that is used in the Evo. It features an active front differential and three drive mode selections: tarmac, snow, and lock. Obviously the tarmac is for dry roads, snow is for snowy roads and lock is for locking the all-wheel drive system.
Due to the snowy roads here in Minnesota, I left the S-AWC in snow mode. It distributed power quickly when going around slick corners, and front to back launching from a stop light. Just like the Evo, the Outlander has the same S-AWC graph in the information display that shows you where the power is being distributed in relation to the wheels. It is highly impressive in the Evo and no less so in the Outlander GT.
Overall the Outlander GT was a nice CUV to drive. It wasn’t the ride or handling that really stood out to me for this CUV. It was the S-AWC system. It was so controlled over the slick roads that I almost forgot that this was a crossover with all-wheel drive.
At $30,275 after destination, the Outlander GT is not a bargain. The pricing has it right in the heart of the CUV market. While it may not be as conventional and mass market as the competition, it is definitely competitive. The Outlander is definitely different, but I’m ok with different. It will not be for everyone styling wise, but you can’t argue that some of the features are well thought out. Add to that what might be a contender for one of the best-in class all-wheel drive systems, and the Outlander is probably a vehicle that is overlooked too often in the big sea of CUVs.
Full Disclosure – The review vehicle was provided by Mitsubishi