2010 Mitsubishi Outlander Review

2010 Mitsubishi Outlander - Worth a look.


Too many car buyers continually purchase the same make of new vehicle without even glancing at other entries. So they miss worthy vehicles, such as those from Mitsubishi, which lacks the promotional firepower of larger rivals.

That's too bad, because the 2010 Mitsubishi Outlander crossover--introduced at a media preview in Palm Springs, Calif.--is well worth a close look.

It may surprise some that Mitsubishi long has been building advanced vehicles. For instance, its 1991 VR-4 sedan was ahead of its time and one step away from being a refined race/rally car with its turbocharged engine and all-wheel drive. I found it handled slippery Chicago-area roads in a snowstorm as if it were the Fourth of July.

And Mitsubishi's 1990s 3000GT turbocharged VR-4 was among that decade's most formidable sports cars, with its racy styling, turbocharged engine, all-wheel drive and fully adjustable suspension.  

There are a variety of solidly built Outlander models with all-wheel drive (AWD) or a front-drive system that can be set to AWD. They start with the base four-cylinder ES and progress to the higher-line, four-cylinder SE and then to the V-6-powered XLS and new-for-2010 V-6 GT.

List prices range from $20,840 to $29,250.

Rivals include the Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, Hyundai Santa Fe, Kia Sorento, Nissan Rogue and Toyota RAV4.

There's standard seating for five, but a compact, stowable third-row seat that can be tucked under the floor after several awkward maneuvers accommodates two additional passengers. That seat is optional for the SE  but standard in the XL:S and GT. However, it's suitable only for kids and isn't very comfortable. Standard for all models are supportive front bucket seats and 60/40 split-fold/tumble second-row seats.

All 2010 Outlanders have racier styling from the windshield forward. There's a new front fascia with a new mesh grille and new hood, fenders and headlights. There also are new door mirrors (which now encompass turn signals), a new rear quarter panel fascia and new side still extensions.

Inspiring the Outlander's new  styling is Mitsubishi's high-performance Lancer Evolution model, reverently called the "Evo" by car buffs. In fact, the Outlander has an Evo-inspired lightweight aluminum roof panel to lower the center of gravity for better handling.

The new enthusiast-oriented Outlander GT--highlighted at the preview--has an especially good combination of style, power and utility. Its 3-liter V-6 generates 230 horsepower-or 10 more than in 2009-and additional torque. The same engine is standard in the XLS.

Carried over for lower-line Outlanders is a sophisticated 2.4-liter four-cylinder with 168 horsepower  It's no match for the V-6 and is buzzy during swift acceleration, but provides adequate performance once underway and easy high-speed cruising.

The four-cylinder is hooked to a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), while the V-6 works with a Sportronic six-speeed automatic with magnesium steering wheel paddle controls for easy manual operation.

Here's something unusual: The Sportronic has a "Neutral Logic" feature that automatically selects neutral when the Outlander GT comes to a stop, reportedly reducing fuel consumption.

Estimated fuel economy of the four-cylinder ranges from 21 mpg in the city to 25-27 on highways. Figures for the V-6 are 18-19 mpg in the city and 24-25 on open roads. The four-cylinder can use regular-grade fuel, but premium is recommended for the V-6.

The Evolution is the latest advanced high-performance car from Mitsubishi. I found the 2010 model-also at the preview-to be more refined and offered with more options than some other 2009 Outlanders, including heated leather seats. On another front, Mitsubishi provided journalists with a small, roomy electric car and a small gasoline engine auto for test drives at the preview. They were fun to drive and deliver exceptional economy--and are rumored to go on sale here in the near future.

The Outlander has a versatile size, but ambitious Mitsubishi said it's introducing a small luxurious SUV/crossover to America late next year, as the move to smaller premium vehicles is expected to continue.

I spend most time at the preview in the Outlander GT, which has premium materials and a special Super-All Wheel Control system (S-AWC) with a first-in-class active front differential and center differential system that distributes driving force from front to rear and left to right to the front wheels. It provides full-time traction during any weather situation.

The GT drove in a carlike manner. Steering was quick, with decent road feel, and ride and handling were good-as were brake pedal feel and brake action.

The GT has a special blacked-out front bumper, 18-inch (vs. 16-inch) wheels and stitched synthetic leather on the dashboard and door trims. Advanced voice recognition for hands-free calling and wireless streaming of audio also are standard. So is a potent 710-watt Rockford Fosgate premium audio system.

Optional for the GT are leather seating surfaces, power drivers seat, heated front seats, navigation system and a reverse rearview camera system.

All Outlanders have a decent amount of comfort and convenience items, including manual air conditioning or automatic climate control and power windows and central door and tailgate locks.

Options for the SE and XLS include a Sun and Sound package containing a power sunroof and a premium audio system. A Luxury Package adds leather seating, power driver's seat and heated front seats.

There's plenty of standard safety equipment, including anti-lock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution, stability and traction control systems and front-side and curtain-side air bags with rollover sensors for the first and second rows.

Getting into the interior calls for a little more effort than entering a car, and narrow rear doorways impede entry and exit. The cabin is generally quiet, but coarse-surface roads bring out excessive tire noise.

The backlit gauges can be quickly read, and climate controls are large. A tall passenger behind a driver will find legroom increases a lot by sliding the second-row seat cushions backwards, but this 3.3-inch fore/aft feature is only offered on the XLS and GT models.

There's a good amount of cabin storage space and conveniently placed cupholders.
Loading through the low, wide cargo opening is facilitated by a drop-down tailgate section. Cargo room is surprisingly good even with the third seat in place, and there's plenty of room for stuff, especially with the second-row seats folded forward. Cargo room is 36.2 cubic feet with the second row seats up and 14.9 cubic feet with behind the third row in three-row models.

The extra-heavy hood is held open by only a prop rod.

The Outlander faces stiff competition, but has plenty to offer. Now, if Mitsubishi could just get crossover vehicle shoppers to visit its showrooms to give the Outlander a fair evaluation. Some may come away impressed.

Visit DanJedlicka.com for more road tests, interviews, and classic car articles.Visit DanJedlicka.com where veteran auto writer Dan Jedlicka reviews the latest cars and trucks in an easily understood but detailed manner. In addition, Dan's Web site also includes colorful classic and collectible car articles, a letters column and candid interviews with auto-field personalities.

Dan Jedlicka

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Dan Jedlicka joined the Chicago Sun-Times in February 1968 as a business news reporter and was named auto editor later that year. He has reviewed more than 4,000 new vehicles for the Sun-Times--far more than any newspaper auto writer in the country. Jedlicka also reviewed vehicles for Microsoft Corp.'s MSN Autos Internet site from January, 1996, to June, 2008.

Jedlicka remained auto editor at the Sun-Times until October, 2008, and continued writing for the newspaper's AutoTimes section, which he started in 1992, until February, 2009. While continuing his auto writings at the Sun-Times, he served as assistant financial editor of that newspaper from 1970 to 1973, when he began his automotive column.

He has appeared on numerous radio and television shows, including NBC's "Today," ABC's "20/20" and "The CBS Evening News." He was a host, consultant and writer for Fox-TV Channel 32's 1991 New Car Preview show and that Chicago-based station's 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995 Chicago Auto Show Previews.

Jedlicka's auto articles have been printed in national magazines, including Esquire and Harper's. His auto columns have been reprinted in U.S. government publications and economic textbooks and he is profiled in the "World's Greatest Auto Show" history book about the Chicago Auto Show. In late 1975, Jedlicka was host and technical advisor for three one-hour television specials, "Auto Test 76," which aired nationally on PBS and were the first nationally televised auto road test shows.

In 1995, Jedlicka was the recipient of the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois Inc.'s Consumer Education Award, given annually to a person who has gained distinction in the field of consumer education. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award in the Media category and inducted into the Legends of Motorsports Guild at the Carquest World of wheels custom car show in Chicago in January, 2006.

Jedlicka was a member of the North American Car and Truck of the Year jury, composed of a select number of auto journalists from throughout the country, from 1995 until 2009. From 2010 to 2012, he was a member of Consumer Digest magazine's auto experts panel that gave Best Buy new vehicle recommendations.

He is a 1987 graduate of the Bob Bondurant Race Drivers School and later of the BMW "M" and Skip Barber Advanced Driving schools. He was a member of the U.S. team that participated in the 1987 1,000-mile Mille Miglia race/rally in Italy and has been a race winner at the Chicago area's Santa Fe Speedway.

Jedlicka has owned 25 classic cars, including 1950s and 1960s Ferraris and 1950s and 1960s Porsches, a 1965 Corvette, a 1967 Maserati and a 1957 Studebaker supercharged Golden Hawk. Jedlicka resides with his wife, Suzanne, in the Frank Lloyd Wright historic district of Oak Park. They have two children, James and Michele.

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