2010 Mitsubishi Outlander Review

2010 Mitsubishi Outlander - Outlander covers all bases.


The versatile five-door Outlander crossover receives several upgrades in 2010 after a major redesign three years ago.  Many of these changes are visual and include a bold new front mesh grille, new hood, side view mirror turn signal blinkers and a new fender design. It certainly has eye-appeal. Outlander may not be as well known as some of its many compact/mid-size competitors, including the Honda CR-V, Chevrolet Equinox or Toyota RAV4, but Outlander's many mix and match options provide opportunities for would-be buyers.

Outlander's front end incorporates a large trapezoid outline and honeycomb innards with the three diamond logo resting atop a horizontal crossbar flanked by narrow headlight housing. Side view mirrors are large for a compact sized vehicle. Underpinnings are borrowed from the compact, sporty Lancer sedan; not a bad start.

Four trim levels (ES, SE, XLS and new for 2010 GT) are available along with two engines (a 2.4-liter, 168 horsepower  four cylinder or a 3.0-liter V-6 with 230 horses) two transmission (continuously variable transmission or six-speed automatic), two four-wheel-drive systems and the choice of front drive or all-wheel drive.  The all-wheel-drive system in most trims can be easily set for front drive, two-wheel drive; all-wheel drive and a locked-in 50/50 split of front and rear power from a chrome dial between the front seats. Up level GT includes a standard 'super all-wheel control' for enhanced vehicle stability in all conditions (no front-drive option in GT). The ES and SE trims are four-cylinder exclusive with CVT while XLS and GT sport the V-6 and six-speed Sportrontic automatic. Outlander is one of the few in its compact class to offer a third-row seat folding flat into the floor when not in use.  The Toyota RAV4 is the only other compact competitor with this option.

Because of a miniscule marketing budget, many folks are unaware Mitsubishi has one of the longest duration powertrain limited warranties: 10 years or 100,000 miles.  The anti-corrosion warranty is also good for 100,000 miles although the time horizon is seven years. Kudos for a nice array of standard safety nuances including anti-lock brakes, traction control, stability control, front seat mounted air bags and side curtain air bags (although side air bags cover only the first two rows)

Our SE with four-cylinder power and all-wheel drive started at $23,940.  Several option packages are available.  The Sun and Sound option package ($2,110) includes up level stereo, Satellite radio, power sunroof and third-row seat while a $360 "Fuse" audio link system included a USB port for portable music devices and combines with Bluetooth connectivity and voice recognition.  The bottom line ended at $27,140 including a $740 destination charge. The lowest-priced ES trim with front drive and CVT transmission checks in at $20,840.

Other available options include a rear-seat entertainment screen, premium navigation screen package, fog lights and a luxury package with leather seating surfaces, Xenon headlights and front seat heaters.

Manual transmission is not offered as in some rivals, like the Suzuki Grand Vitara compact SUV. Fuel economy is average, not great.  Our four-cylinder all-wheel driver averaged 21 mpg city and 25 highway. Add two more miles per gallon highway with front drive.  The V-6 engine averages 18 mpg and 24 with all-wheel drive and one mile better in each category with two-wheel drive. Keep in mind the V-6 recommends premium unleaded fuel.

All four side doors includes molded cup holders in addition to inline holders in between the front bucket seats (along with the hand-operated parking brake) while another single molded cup holder resides in front of the floor-mounted transmission.  Yet one more single holder retracts out from the far left side of the dash. Large side bolsters are part of the front seats. Cloth seating in the SE was comfortable and supportive. Ceiling handles are positioned above all four doors. Large steering wheel paddle shifters (standard in SE) allow more input for gear shifting without using a foot clutch, but Outlander is not a sporty build, so some of the thrill gets lost.

The instrument panel has two deep set, circular analog gauges (like a pair of eyes peering back) with a digital message screen in between.  A small, two-colored fuel gauge is part of this information window. The dual-level  glove box has an independent top and bottom.  Both are small.  It may work better with one large storage area.  That said, Outlander has plenty of small storage nooks. Mitsubishi smartly incorporates three large, easy-to-grab dials for ventilation. The straight-across black dash includes brushed aluminum accents.  The steering wheel face is home to secondary audio functions and cruise control. The manual steering column moves up and down, but not in and out.
The top dash is deep and expansive, resulting in some windshield reflection when sunny. Both front and standard rear wipers operate from a right-side stalk, near the ignition twist start, activating without a traditional key as long as the key fob is nearby.  The driver's door handle is home to power window, mirror and lock controls.  The fuel door unlocks from a floor latch left of the driver's seat.

Second row backs fold onto cushions with a 60/40 split and easily tumble forward, not only providing more cargo space, but opening a floor isle to the temporary third-row seat where equipped.  Both sections of the second row tumble and tilt (not just the smaller side), something even some mid-size SUVs don't accomplish. When prone, row two has enough space for three adults, a nice trait for a compact vehicle. While Mitsubishi gets kudos with its second-row design and ease of use, the optional two-passenger  far rear seat needs a warning or two. It's best left for two pre-teens since padding is at a minimum. It feels like hammock seating.  Even pre-teens may complain not only of butt fatigue after about a half hour, but limited leg room.  Knees rest close to the chest with the second-row prone.

The third-row seat raises and lowers from the cargo floor.  Three straps are used but could be larger/longer and better marked.  After a couple attempts the process becomes second nature, but is not as user friendly as other rivals. This bench is standard in GT and XLS and optional in the four-cylinder SE. The rear hatch is hinged at the top and opens from the bottom up with less-than appealing head clearance if standing taller than six feet.

All trims include a unique fold flat tail gate allowing for easier loading; a nice touch.  The spare tire mounts under the vehicle, limiting ground clearance and serious off-roading. Outlander is a pleasant vehicle to drive and intended for on-road use.

The four-cylinder has adequate oomph, but if opting for the third row and more passenger volume, the V-6 may be the click to pick. The four-cylinder is louder than most rivals. Brakes include a nice throw without a jarring reaction once called upon. Steering is car-like. Thanks to four side doors and a large hatch window, drivers enjoy good sight lines in many directions. Mitsubishi has no gas-electric hybrid or plug-in version planned for the near future.

Mitsubishi Motors Corp. is one of three auto companies with assembly plants in Illinois. Mitsubishi Motor Manufacturing America opening in 1991in the Central Illinois enclave of Normal near Bloomington.  Currently, the Galant sedan, sporty Eclipse and Endeavour SUV are put together in Normal. Outlander, is assembled in Japan.

Dave Boe

Dave Boe, a lifetime Chicago area resident, worked at the Daily Herald, Illinois' third-largest daily newspaper, for 24 years. In 1989, the Daily Herald began a weekly Saturday Auto Section and he was shortly appointed editor. The product quickly grew into one of the largest weekend sections in the paper thanks to his locally-written auto reviews, the introduction of a local automotive question-and-answer column, a new colorful format and news happenings from Chicago area new-car dealerships.

Five years later, a second weekly auto section debuted on Mondays with Boe adding an industry insight column and introducing a "Love Affair with Your Car" column where readers sent in their own automotive memories for publication. During the next 10 years, the number of weekly auto sections Boe edited and coordinated grew to five and featured expanded NASCAR racing coverage, a dealer spotlight/profile feature and a Car Club Calendar where grass-roots automobile clubs could publish upcoming events for free. Boe also introduced more local automotive columnists into the pages of the sections, all of whom were seasoned members of the well respected Midwest Automotive Media Association. In 1997, Boe earned the Employee of the Year award from the Daily Herald.

Boe is a founding member and current president of the Midwest Automotive Media Association. He has degrees in Journalism and Business Administration from Northern Illinois University.