2010 Mitsubishi Outlander GT


No Longer OK to Overlook2010_Mitsubishi_Outlander GT_header.jpg

by Joe Tralongo

The timing for this assignment could not be better. I am
currently shopping the market for my own personal crossover utility vehicle, or
CUV. My future chariot requires four-wheel drive (I live in Montana, it’s
mandatory), good fuel economy, a super comfortable set of front seats, cutting
edge audio and cell phone connectivity and sports-car like handling, all at a
price that fits my meager journalist budget. I like the Honda CR-V, but it’s
lacking in power and front seat leg room, has a minimalist four-wheel drive
system and the audio choices are simply pathetic. I also like the Subaru
Outback, which has a great all-wheel-drive setup, available Harman/Kardon audio
and even offers a manual transmission on some four-cylinder models. On the flip
side, the handling is far from sporting and the exterior styling is, well, lets
just say she’s not the glamour queen she once was.  My list goes on, through the Jeep Patriot to
the Chevrolet Equinox to the Toyota RAV4 and even the Ford Edge. If only I
could mix and match the best attributes of each. Alas, as of last month, I had
resigned myself to two choices, neither quite living up to my ideal. But then,
just as I was about to toss a coin, I got the call. Mitsubishi had a new
Outlander ready for testing, and I was just the man they wanted (Okay, they
wanted the other Joe, but the got me, so deal with it Mitsubishi!).

Truth be told, I never even considered the Outlander; not
because it was off my radar, but 2010_Mitsubishi_Outlander GT_dash.jpgbecause there are no Mitsubishi dealers in the
little hamlet of Missoula, Montana. Yet, after spending a day tearing
up sand dunes and rock trails outside the gay oasis that is Palm Springs, CA,
I’ve become one of the converted. The Outlander GT is so good it’s worth the
three hour drive just to find a Mitsubishi dealer. So what makes the GT so much
better than the base Outlander? Ability! From its Evo-inspired front grill to
its Evo-derived S-AWC all-wheel-drive system, the Outlander GT is now the first
and last word in performance-oriented CUVs.

To understand what makes the Outlander GT such a great
little CUV, one must look beneath the sporty surface. Mitsubishi has outfitted
the Outlander GT with a 3.0-liter V6 engine good for 230 horsepower and 213
pounds-feet of torque. This engine places the Outlander at the lower end of the
six-cylinder power wars, a bit shy of the Subaru Outback’s 256-horsepower flat
six, and well short of the RAV4′s 269 horsepower motor. Still, despite the
lower numbers, I found the Outlander GT had no problem quickly accelerating to
pass and merge, and with fuel economy estimates of 18-city and 24-highway, the
Outlander GT remains highly competitive with the segment leaders. One feature
that helps overcome the lower horsepower number is Mitsubishi excellent six-speed
Sportronic automatic transmission (complete with steering-wheel paddle
shifters). This transmission employs a dual clutch setup similar to VW’s DSG.
It works exceedingly well, delivering split-second up and downshifts in manual
mode and seamless gear transitions when left in auto pilot.

Moving further into the Outlander’s gut brings us to the
suspension and steering setup, and area 2010_Mitsubishi_Outlander GT_seats.jpgwhere most of the Outlander’s
competitors fall flat. It’s no small feat to get a vehicle with 8.5-inches of
ground clearance to handle like a low-slung touring car, but the Outlander does
just that. Carving up the twisty black ribbon that is highway 74, I was amazed
at the Outlander’s composure. Even in the tightest turns at speeds no sane
person would consider, the Outlander GT exhibited minimal body roll and lean,
shunned any tendency toward understeer and basically went wherever I pointed
it. About the only short coming I and most of my colleagues could find were the
brakes, which just seemed to allow a bit too much travel in emergency stopping
situation. Still, as I only had the seat of my pants to test this theory, I
can’t back up my conclusions with any hard test data. Just chalk it up to
intuition.

At the very heart of the Outlander GT, and what allows it to
tackle curves so confidently, is its all-wheel drive system. Dubbed S-AWC
(Super-All-Wheel-Control), this mechanical equivalent of mountain goat hoof features
an electronically-controlled center differential that can shuttle torque between
the front and rear wheels as needed. Also onboard is an Active Front
Differential that can transfer power from left to right, a virtue highly sought
after by those who sometime love venturing off road or into the occasional Galveston salt marsh.
From the passenger cabin, the driver can select from three modes: Tarmack, Snow
and Lock. While not intended for the Rubicon Trail, it’s fair to say that, when
it comes to getting dirty, the Outlander GT is far more competent than most
CUVs and even some larger SUVs.

Now that I’ve spelled out the technical reason why I might
purchase an Outlander, let me share my more selfish observations. First and
foremost, it should be known that I like stuff–lots of stuff. I want to be
pampered in luxury, serenaded with sound and surrounded by anything and
everything that requires moving electrons and a subscription to CNET. Here is
where the Outlander shines. From the super comfortable and supportive leather front
seats, to the clean and minimalist dash controls to the cramped but still nice
to have flush-folding third-row seat, the Outlander GT is truly a nice place to
spend time. The fit, finish and overall quality of materials are among the best
I’ve seen at this price, with such lovely little touches as a French stitched faux-leather
dash cap, slotted aluminum foot pedals and a brightly colored LCD instrument
display.

Audio fanatics will rejoice at the new FUSE media gateway, which
is Mitsubishi’s answer to the 2010_Mitsubishi_Outlander GT_SWAC switch.jpgFord/Microsoft SYNC systems. In nutshell, FUSE
allows voice command of the cell phone and iPod functions. With Bluetooth 2.0
connectivity, the system can even upload your phone’s contact list and dial any
number at your request. Better yet, the FUSE system is attached to an amazing 710-watt
Rockford Fosgate sound system, complete with eight speakers and one very loud
10-inch subwoofer. The available 40 gigabyte hard drive navigation unit features
Real Time Traffic updates with no monthly fee and includes a music server that can
rip music from a CD and store it on the hard drive. Also part of the navigation
package is a rear backup camera and A/V input jacks. Oh, Honda, are you
listening to what Mitsubishi is cooking? You should be!

After thinking it over, I have to honestly ask myself, “Is
the Outlander GT good enough to justify a three hour drive each way just to
visit for a service call?” No, not really. But let’s face it: I’d be hard
pressed to make a three-hour trek to meet up with a naked Milo Ventimiglia
holding a box of chocolate ├ęclairs and two tickets to see Madonna live at the
Hollywood Bowl. I’m just not that motivated.  But, if there’s a Mitsubishi dealer within a
stones throw of your domicile, and you’re in the market for a crossover with a
bit of edge, then I highly recommend you test drive the 2010 Outlander GT. It’s
one sweet ride.

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